Posted on February 22, 2022

How the American Bar Association Just Radicalized Law School

Aaron Sibarium, Washington Free Beacon, February 15, 2022

The American Bar Association voted on Monday to require that all law schools educate students on their duty to “work to eliminate racism,” a move top law professors say will “institutionalize dogma” throughout legal academia.

The association, which accredits almost every law school in the United States, voted 348 to 17 to adopt the standard. Law schools will now have to “provide education to law students on bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism,” both at the start of law school and “at least once again before graduation.”

Additionally, law students will have to complete a course on “professional responsibility” that introduces them “to the values and responsibilities of the legal profession”—including “the obligation of lawyers to promote a justice system that provides equal access and eliminates bias, discrimination, and racism in the law.”

The standard has stirred controversy among law professors, many of whom assailed it as an assault on academic freedom when it was first proposed last year. Brian Leiter, a legal theorist at the University of Chicago Law School, said the proposed requirements would “almost certainly violate the academic freedom rights of faculty at many (probably most) schools.” And in an open letter to the American Bar Association, 10 Yale Law School professors called the change a “disturbing” attempt to “institutionalize dogma” through the accreditation process and an “overreach by the ABA.”

These objections prompted the American Bar Association to add a disclaimer to the final standard, saying it “does not prescribe the form or content of the education on bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism.”

But the new standard does dictate the content of the professional responsibility course, an unprecedented step by the American Bar Association. And according to the Yale Law professors, requiring anti-bias training “presuppos[es] that some students are biased and racist and therefore need instruction.”


{snip} In August 2020, the deans of 176 law schools—including Chicago and Yale—petitioned the American Bar Association to require that “every law school provide training and education around bias, cultural competence, and anti-racism.”