Bench Memos

Law & the Courts

Don’t Forget Those Law Professors

Back in March 2016, when the vacancy resulting from Justice Scalia’s death was pending, a group of more than 350 law professors signed a letter to leading senators declaring that the Senate had a “constitutional duty to give President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee a prompt and fair hearing and a timely vote.” (Somehow that letter has disappeared from its home on the Alliance for Justice’s website.) In February 2016, a group of 33 law professors issued a similar letter: “the Senate has the duty to ‘advise and consent,” which means to hold hearings and to vote on the nominee.” (On a quick check, I see that some, but not all, of the signatories on the February letter signed the March letter.)

The signatories included lots of leading liberals, such as Laurence Tribe and Erwin Chemerinsky.

For reasons I explained repeatedly back then, the law professors’ position was dead wrong (and, in the case of Tribe and Chemerinsky at least, flatly contradicted positions each had previously taken).

But since the 350-plus law professors identify themselves as “scholars deeply committed to … upholding the rule of law,” I trust that they deliberated carefully on the matter, sincerely held the position that they espoused, and will continue to advance it.