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For Antonin Scalia, Some “Law And” Seminars Are More Equal Than Others

Posted on the 28 December 2012 by Jslubinski @jslubinski

Justice Antonin Scalia commented not too long ago that law students should take only “bread and butter” classes like constitutional or international law. He recommended that students avoid theoretical seminars like “Law and Women” or “Law and Poverty.” I think there are conclusions to be drawn from Scalia’s decision to deride those particular courses of study, but I digress. Jonathan Turley, an academic who unlike Scalia has real world experience practicing law, has a good response to Scalia here.

I write this simply to point out that Justice Scalia in fact approves of at least one such seminar: the Colloquium on Law and Religion at the Center for Law and Religion at St. John’s University School of Law. I find this interesting for two reasons, I guess. First, and with snarkiness fully intended, the students lucky enough to partake of Justice Scalia’s presence will no doubt be seeking post-grad employment elsewhere, as Scalia has never hired a clerk who graduated from St. John’s. Sorry, kids.

Second, and more importantly of course, is the incongruity in advising students to avoid courses like “Law and Poverty” while simultaneously (since the St. John’s class opened in April of 2012) participating in a “Law and Religion” class at a private, reasonably elite Roman Catholic law school. It would seem that, in this case at least, the justice’s actions speak louder than his words, an interesting conundrum for one who so famously advocates for the application of textual language to the exclusion of everything else.

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