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Unpublished Paper
Liberal Bias in the Legal Academy: Overstated and Undervalued
ExpressO (2007)
  • Michael Vitiello
Abstract of Liberal Bias in the Legal Academy: Overstated and Undervalued According to the right, universities are hotbeds of radicalism. Critics of universities like David Horowitz have tried to push their agenda through legislation. Until recently, law schools drew little attention. That changed with the publication of a study that appeared in the Georgetown Law Journal; the right now cites the study as evidence that law schools too lean too far to the left. This article examines the debate. First, it examines the Georgetown study and concludes that the study overstates the extent to which law faculties are dominated by left wing professors. It suggests that the authors’ methodology skewed the results and that they ignored some of their own findings that suggest that younger professors do not share the left wing bias of their older, Baby Boomer colleagues. Second, even conceding some bias, the article argues why conservative students are not harmed by whatever bias exists. The ability to argue both sides of any legal issue, not how students resolve particular legal disputes, earns students good grades. And, of course, grading is anonymous. Further, studies show consistently that liberals are more open minded than their conservative counterparts; as a result, liberals are well suited to teach different points of view and are likely to be open to mentoring their conservative students. Third, it explores whether the composition of law faculties is the result of bias against hiring conservatives, as conservatives now insist. The article suggests a number of alternative explanations for why liberals outnumber conservatives on law faculties. Finally, it suggests some questions that beg additional empirical research. The Georgetown study has given fodder to conservatives who believe that they are the victims of bias. Those in the academy should be proactive in rebutting claims of discrimination and bias.
Publication Date
June, 2007
Citation Information
Michael Vitiello. "Liberal Bias in the Legal Academy: Overstated and Undervalued" ExpressO (2007)
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