Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Let's put the Ivy League in perspective

Jonathan Adler did a very nice editorial in the WSJ's Opinion Journal about the fact that Judge Alito is qualified because, at a very fundamental level, he's simply a strong intellectual and an excellent judge. I agreed with everything in the editorial except for the emphasized language below:

With the nomination of Samuel Alito to replace Sandra Day O'Connor, President Bush has returned to the approach that served him so well when he nominated John Roberts to the Supreme Court--that of picking the best available candidate irrespective of diversity concerns. Judge Alito's credentials are more like those we have come to expect from Supreme Court nominees, including an Ivy League education and substantial judicial experience--more than any Supreme Court nominee since before World War II. Yet he also has significant executive branch and prosecutorial experience that could add a unique perspective to the court. [Emphasis mine.]
First off, you know that I appreciate Judge Alito's Yale law degree, since I've had 20 years to form an impression about past Yale grads (I haven't met the current crop of Yale law grads). Having said that, though, I find this emphasis on an Ivy League degree just . . . well . . . wrong. To begin with, there are dozens of totally excellent law schools that are not Ivy League, so the implication that only the Ivies can turn out Supreme Court Justices is so biased as to be ridiculous. More significantly, while the Ivies may once upon a time have been places of rigorous intellect, lately they've been fodder for a lot of bad jokes at the expense of the weirder faction of the left wing. Some examples? 1. The Larry Summer's kerfuffle, which took place within Harvard's illustrious walls. 2. The Solomon Amendment case, which will be heard by the Supremes, and which originated when Yale law school kicked military recruiters off campus. Stanford professors (and Stanford is sometimes treated as the West Coast answer to Ivies) are deeply involved in the case -- against the Government. 3. Harvard's flirtations with vile anti-Semitism, which led even its President to warn against the direction the college was taking. 4. The little problem of grade inflation at the Ivy Leagues (e.g., Harvard, Yale and others), which really calls into question the quality of the graduates' education. 5. The Leftward political slant in Ivy League classrooms. Generally, you can find articles about Yale here, here, and here. You can find articles about Harvard here, here, and here. I'll leave you on your own to find articles about other Ivies. Given all this, it's not just that the major universities have become hostile to conservative beliefs. It's that they've gone insane and they've clamped down on critical thinking. Do you really want to create a kneejerk reaction holding that, ten or twenty years down the line, only a graduate of these schools will do for the Supreme Court? I know that there are intellectual, thoughtful, open-minded analytical students attending the Ivies and graduating from them on a regular basis. I just don't like the idea that these schools, which are plagued with precisely the same PC ills as so many other American campuses and, indeed, are often at the forefront of PC thought, should be considered the only pool for future Supreme Court candidates.