“Law and Poverty” is a “Waste of Time,” Scalia Says

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From the Chicago Sun-Times:

On the eve of today’s 221st anniversary of the U.S. Constitution’s adoption, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia told conservative lawyers in Chicago that the University of Chicago Law School : where he used to teach : has lost its edge and gone liberal.

Back in the days when Scalia … [t]he courses had more rigor and the school had a more conservative ethos, Scalia told 500 members of the conservative Federalist Society of lawyers at the Union League Club Tuesday.  ***

But Scalia bemoaned the proliferation of exotic law classes in the country’s law schools.”I took nothing but bread-and-butter classes, not “Law and Poverty,” or other made-up stuff, Scalia said to laughter. He said his advice to law students was: “Take serious classes. There’s so much law to learn. Don’t waste your time.”

The full article is available here.

-Bridget Crawford

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0 Responses to “Law and Poverty” is a “Waste of Time,” Scalia Says

  1. Another thing I disagree with Scalia about. I give the complete opposite advice to law students: take classes you are interested in and only take the bread and butter classes if you really feel you want to talk about the history, policy, theory, etc. of those issues. Otherwise, a bar review course and/or nutshell will do you fine when (if!) you need the info.

  2. Eric says:

    This could be a fun game: “Things Justice Scalia Thinks are a Waste of Time.” I’ll start:

    * anything that happened after 1789
    * civil rights
    * faithfulness to the Constitutional text when it gets in the way of your preferred outcome

  3. Bridget Crawford says:

    From the Chicago Sun-Times, this letter to the editor (available at http://www.suntimes.com/news/commentary/letters/1172525,CST-EDT-vox19.article):

    September 19, 2008

    As lecturers in law at the University of Chicago Law School, we teach the “Law and Poverty” seminar that Justice Antonin Scalia dismissed as “made-up stuff” and a waste of time during his remarks to the Federalist Society [Scalia says U. of C. has gone liberal, Sept. 17]. Scalia’s comments elicited hearty laughter from his conservative audience, but we are dismayed that one of the smartest, most powerful and most influential jurists in the country does not consider poverty law a serious or worthwhile subject.
    Thirty-seven million Americans — more than 12 percent of the population — live in poverty. Lawyers can help them avoid unwarranted evictions, escape abusive relationships, retain custody of their children, obtain or preserve desperately needed benefits and services, challenge policies that discriminate against the poor and fight employment discrimination. This is vitally important work.

    If “equal justice under the law,” a phrase that Scalia knows is engraved on the front of the United States Supreme Court building, is to have any meaning, our nation’s lawyers are duty-bound to commit themselves to serving the less fortunate through pro bono service. Poverty and the laws that can be used to help the impoverished are anything but “made-up stuff.”

    Given the size of their law school loans, few of our students become full-time poverty lawyers. But they leave our class determined to devote part of their time to representing indigent clients with meritorious cases, and in the process they create a more just society.

    Lawrence D. Wood,

    Richard M. Wheelock,

    Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago