American Bar Association Abusing Its Accreditation Power To Force Race-Focused Study On Law Students
Our column at Real Clear Politics: “Legal education is about to undergo a revolutionary change, with the American Bar Association poised to mandate race-focused study as a prerequisite to graduating from law school…. States enabled the ABA’s near-monopoly accrediting power, which now is being abused for ideological purposes. What the states gave the ABA, the states can and should take away.”
The American Bar Association once was a proxy for the American legal community. That was long, long ago. It has since moved to the left in many ways, so much so that Republicans now reject reliance on ABA judicial-nominee evaluations and ratings. ABA is just another group captured by the long march through institutions.
But it’s actually worse, because ABA is weaponizing its near-monopoly power to accredit law schools. In multiple proposals, one of which will be voted on by the ABA House of Delegates on February 14, 2022, and is all but certain to pass, ABA is forcing law schools to require that students take courses on race, particularly the CRT-driven systemic racism narrative. The hammer is that this is a requirement for the ABA to accredite the law school, so almost all law schools will have to comply.
Now, the traditional mandatory ‘building block’ courses on contracts, torts, constitutional law, and others will be accompanied by the mandatory study of race. Of course, courses on race — namely Critical Race Theory — are offered in many if not most law schools. But the study is voluntary. No longer. Ideological dogma will be enforced by the ABA.
ABA is abusing its accreditation power. States provided the ABA with this near-monolopy, and states need to act.
Johanna Markind, Esq. from the Legal Insurrection Foundation and I wrote an op-ed on the topic that ran this morning at Real Clear Politics.
Here is an excerpt, please click the link to read the whole thing at RCP, ABA Forcing Wokeness on Law Schools:
Legal education is about to undergo a revolutionary change, with the American Bar Association poised to mandate race-focused study as a prerequisite to graduating from law school. It’s another instance of woke ideology being forced on the nation, and may necessitate that states revisit the ABA’s government-granted near-monopoly accrediting power….
Whether or not ABA accreditation previously ensured quality, the ABA has become partisan, using its power to promote an ideological agenda.
The liberal bias of the ABA itself is not new. A study of ABA evaluations of judicial nominees from 1977-2008 found “strong evidence of systematic bias in favor of Democratic nominees,” who were likelier to be rated “well-qualified” than similarly qualified Republicans. Republicans have long recognized this. That’s why President George W. Bush discontinued ABA pre-screening of judicial nominees. Most Senate Judiciary Committee Republicans now treat the ABA merely as an advocacy group.
That may explain why ABA membership dropped from 300,000 (over 50% of the bar) in 1980 to 194,000 (14.4%) in 2017. ABA may once have been a proxy for the American legal community, but now it’s just a proxy for the left wing of the American legal community. Yet its accrediting power continues….
Now, the ABA wants to limit law student and faculty freedom of expression. Its proposed revision to Standard 303 (which will be presented to the ABA House of Delegates in mid-February 2022) mandates “educati[ng] law students on bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism.” Proposed Interpretation 303-7(3) suggests satisfying the new requirement with “[c]ourses on racism and bias in the law.” Proposed Interpretation 303-6 converts the existing professional responsibility requirement into teaching lawyers’ “obligation … to promote a justice system that provides equal access and eliminates bias, discrimination, and racism in the law.”
Without saying so openly, the revised standard in reality dictates that law schools should “institutionalize dogma,” as a group of Yale Law School professors objected. The obsessive focus on systemic racism, a subject of scholarly dispute, reveals the new standard’s Critical Race Theory underpinnings.
The ABA pretended to address the problem by adding Interpretation 303-8: “Standard 303 does not prescribe the form or content” of the required education. This doesn’t fix the problem, because law school faculties overwhelmingly lean hard left. Only the naïve or dishonest would expect schools to teach anything other than CRT and a “systemic racism” approach….
The most important action that states can take is to stop requiring bar applicants to graduate from an ABA-accredited school. Because state structures vary, in some states this may require changes implemented through state supreme courts or quasi-independent bar agencies. States also can substitute state licensing, as already takes place in Alabama, California, Massachusetts, and Tennessee, which allow graduates of local non-ABA law schools take their bar exams. States also should consider whether a law school degree is needed, by revisiting self-study and apprenticeship in lieu of increasingly politicized law school curriculum and related student debt.
Whatever the reform approach, action is needed. States enabled the ABA’s near-monopoly accrediting power, which now is being abused for ideological purposes. What the states gave the ABA, the states can and should take away.
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