The American Bar Association Stifles Legal Education

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The Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications is a nonprofit accrediting agency for journalism programs. Bradley Hamm, the dean at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism, has called the council’s accreditation-review process “flawed,” “superficial,” “extremely time-consuming,” and “sort of a low bar.”

So he’s gotten out. Northwestern University has effectively terminated its relationship with the council, calmly embracing its new status as unaccredited.

The online journal Inside Higher Ed, which points out that the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley, has done the same, quotes Dean Hamm as saying that, “as we near the 2020s, we expect far better than a 1990s-era accreditation organization that resists change—especially as education and careers in our field evolve rapidly.”

This is a tremendous blow—when two of the most prominent and celebrated journalism programs in the country refuse to acknowledge the authority and legitimacy of an accreditor, it’s tough for the accreditor to argue that the resistant institutions are merely upset about their ability to maintain accreditation. If other journalism schools are frustrated with the council’s obsolete standards, and its tendency to micromanage curricula, more of them will likely follow the example of Northwestern and Berkeley.

The social and financial costs of burdensome accreditation standards and procedures are even more pronounced in the field of law. Small businesses and Americans of modest income struggle to afford the high costs of hiring an attorney or litigating a case. Access to justice or quality representation is a constant concern within the legal profession.

Meanwhile, the American Bar Association, which remains the only accrediting body for law schools in the United States, regulates legal education in a way that drives up costs for law students, and for the consumers onto whom those costs are eventually projected.

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The New Left’s Dangerous Old Antitrust Ideas

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The course of antitrust law in American history has proved a barometer of good governance.  In the New Deal, the Roosevelt administration lurched from one policy to another, united only by the injury they did to the economy.  Sometimes that administration broke up companies simply on account of size and at other times permitted actual collusion by competitors on prices.  In the Warren Court era, both the Department of Justice and the Court itself prevented mergers, even though they were economically beneficial. In Brown Shoe, the nadir of all antitrust law, Chief Justice Earl Warren invalidated a merger between two relatively small shoe companies in an extremely competitive market because he concluded that it might become part of a merger trend and because it would make the companies more efficient at selling shoes!

In contrast, since the Chicago School revolution in antitrust was empowered by the Reagan administration and sustained by its successors, antitrust law has become quite sensible. It has intervened only when needed to protect the welfare of consumers, preventing collusion or mergers that would likely keep prices higher than in a free market. The consumer welfare standard of modern antitrust has also offered relatively clear rules of conduct derived from microeconomics, thus protecting the rule of law and curbing government discretion over business.

But ideas percolating on the left threaten this sound consensus and an oped in the New York Times yesterday exemplifies the danger. Lina Khan, who was the policy director for Zephyr Teachout, the radical Democratic candidate for New York Governor in 2014, complained about Amazon’s recent purchase of Whole Foods.

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Living Constitutionalism on the Supreme Court’s Website

Six years ago, I wrote a post about how the Supreme Court’s website adopted the language of the Living Constitution approach.  (I had been expanding on a post by Eugene Volokh.)  It was curious that Justices Scalia and Thomas, as well as other fellow travellers of originalism, including the Chief Justice, would allow this language to continue.   At the end of the post, I wrote that “it will be interesting to see whether this is changed and if so, how long it will take.”  I just checked back to see whether there had been a change, but none has occurred. …

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Return to Marbury

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The travel ban case is headed to the Supreme Court by way of the once redoubtable Fourth and always activist Ninth Circuits, leaving revisionists to wonder how it might have unfolded had it made its way upward through Judge William H. Pryor’s Eleventh. Pryor’s view of the judicial role exhibits appropriate assertiveness within its sphere and a fitting humility beyond it.

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“A Glimpse of the Divinity”: What the Humanities Can Provide

Economist Douglass North in passing posits a theory of demand for government funding of education in his book The Economic Growth of the United States, 1790-1860. Investment in knowledge represents a deliberate decision by a society to divert resources from more immediately productive pursuits. Implicitly or explicitly, a society makes assumptions about the returns on such investment which affect the level of expenditure of tax monies. The amount of capital diverted into investment in knowledge will depend upon the structure of political power and the attitudes of that group in society which is in a position to enact legislation regarding taxes…

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Who Are ISIS’s Useful Idiots – Supporters or Opponents of the Police Prioritizing of Hate-Crime?  

By now, it is a well-established fact that acts of Islamic violence against Western targets are swiftly followed by local surges in reported incidences of anti-Muslim hate crime. The cities of Manchester and London, both of which lately suffered Islamic attacks, have proved no exception.

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The Fed: Can the World’s Biggest S&L Get Back to Normal?

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The balance sheet of today’s Federal Reserve makes it the largest 1980s-model savings and loan in the world, with a giant portfolio of long-term, fixed rate mortgage securities combined with floating rate deposits.  This would certainly have astonished the legislative fathers of the Federal Reserve Act like Congressman and then Senator Carter Glass, who strongly held that the Fed should primarily be about discounting short-term commercial notes.

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Liberalism’s Identity Problem

This week Tim Farron, the leader of the British Liberal Democrats, resigned  because he found his Christian faith incompatible with leading his party. Apparently, the problem was that while he agreed with the Liberal Democratic position that homosexual relations and same-sex marriage should be legal, he also believed, like many Christians, that homosexual relations were wrong.  Many party colleagues found the combination of these two positions intolerable.

But this kind of combination traditionally defined the essence of liberalism, supposedly the guiding light of Farron’s party.  Liberalism was exactly the view that government had no business regulating actions or beliefs unless they could be demonstrated to cause concrete harms to a third party. As a result, liberals have supported legalizing all sorts of matters that they may have believed immoral or imprudent. In my view, the best test for a liberal is the willingness to tolerate behavior of which he morally disapproves.

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How the Great War Changed America: A Conversation with Richard Gamble

Members of US Army 308th Infantry march up New York's Fifth Avenue during spring of 1919.This year marks the one hundredth anniversary of America's entry into World War I: "the war to end all wars." Richard Gamble, author of The War for Righteousness, joins this edition of Liberty Law Talk to discuss how American intervention into the Great War irrevocably changed the country.

Wonder Woman: A Movie About Men

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Some of my best friends are men, so no offense. But Wonder Woman has me asking, what’s the point? What good are they?

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