Phi Beta Cons

Talk About an Idiotic Lawsuit!

Lawyers dream up some truly idiotic lawsuits. Monday’s Inside Higher Ed had a short piece (second of the quick take items) on a lawsuit against Wisconsin’s policy of admitting graduates of the University of Wisconsin and Marquette law schools directly into the state bar. No need to pass the state’s bar exam. I think that’s perfectly sensible, since the ability to memorize the material for the bar exam has very little to do with actually practicing law. It wouldn’t do any harm at all if the bar exam were dropped entirely, but that’s getting off the point.

What could be illegal about Wisconsin’s law? Well, the suit contends that it obstructs interstate commerce in that Wisconsin residents might be less inclined to attend a law school in another state. You could just as well say that lower tuition for state residents at public universities obstructs interstate commerce. The meaning of the commerce clause has been tortured to the point of virtual extinction, but this takes the cake.

Where does the case stand? The trial court dismissed the suit, but an appellate court just ruled that it should proceed. Good grief.

George Leef is the director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

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