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The YLS endorsement

In the New York Times article detailing how Yale Law School is the scene of little support for and much opposition to the nomination of its alumnus Sam Alito, Larry Ribstein notes a remarkable comment by Prof. Owen Fiss, on Clarence Thomas, another YLS alum: "The one lesson for the law school was that we didn't work hard enough to oppose him."

Who is this "we"? Is Fiss saying that Yale should have an official position on a political issue? If so, is anyone else bothered by the notion that an educational institution should have and enforce a particular orthodox view? Or by the possibility that one of its most senior and respected faculty members thinks it should?

Aside from the dissenting views of Profs. Priest, Romano, Schuck, Macey and a couple of others, it may well be that Yale Law can be described as a collective political "we". At Concurring Opinions where Daniel Solove discusses the issue, Robert Schwartz posts a comment worth preserving:

Ben Stein wrote the second of two columns about whether he should continue to give money to Yale Law school, seeing as how Yale's endowment now exceeds ten digits and is growing by leaps and bounds. He said:

"There are ties that are more than rational, more than sensible. They are the mystic chords of memory to which Lincoln referred. ... I'll keep giving to Yale, and with a full heart, for the memory of Henry Varnum Poor and the many other kind souls of New Haven. Not everything is about reason."

A fund raiser's delight that column was. So here is the question, should Yale want its alumni to evaluate its fund raising requests through the golden glow of nostalgic memory, while it evaluates them through the cold eye of hyper-partisan liberal politics[?] Should it ask only for mercy and give only justice? Is that going to work on a long term basis?

More: Yale Daily News (faculty members deny unified stance of opposition to Alito).



Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.