Last week, I posted about a conference at Harvard on the topic of intellectual diversity in the legal academy. I’m pleased to report that the conference was a great success, well conceived and well executed by the excellent students of the Harvard chapter of the Federalist Society. If nothing else, it succeeded in shining a light on the stark political / jurisprudential / methodological imbalance at the top law schools. It turns out that many of these schools are just like Georgetown Law — where most students will graduate after three years without ever once laying eyes on a conservative or libertarian professor at the front of a classroom.
Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow was unable to attend the conference, but she did provide a written statement, which is an eloquent endorsement of intellectual diversity:
“He who knows only his own side of the case, knows little of that.” John Stuart Mill’s insight carries importance for any place of learning and special significance for a law school. For one cannot truly understand a legal argument on behalf of one client or side without thoroughly understanding and addressing competing arguments and objections. Even if there were no other reasons available, this would supply sufficient basis for a robust commitment to intellectual diversity among the faculty and students, courses and journals, activities and speakers at Harvard Law School.
But there are other powerful reasons to pursue and nurture intellectual diversity at Harvard Law School. We recruit extraordinary students and work hard to equip them to pursue great careers and great dreams. Both in honing their aspirations and equipping them to achieve them, nothing works as well as serious intellectual encounters with smart and motivated individuals with varied viewpoints. Faculty and students also advance knowledge and law reform through scholarship and public