[We] had a heart to heart and she profusely apologized.
Harvard Law School
Few things embarrass me like the Harvard Black Law Students Association. It could be the most credible foil to systemic racism against black law students. It has instead become a convenient tool to be used by those who wish to ignore the racial tensions in our system of legal education.
Don’t believe me? Earlier this week, we learned that a sole white kid called blacks genetically dumber than whites, and Harvard BLSA backed down — stepped and fetched, if you will — in the face of one solitary white person. It’s not the first time (we’ll get to the tragically impotent reaction to Kiwi Camara later). But at a point when the entire law school world would have at least considered what Harvard BLSA had to say, the organization sought to cover their own ass in the media, instead of standing up on the behalf of maligned black law students everywhere.
I cannot and do not wish to speak for all black law students and lawyers. But when confronted with abject racism, I can find the courage to speak for myself. I believe that gives me more balls than BLSA…
Martha Minow, Dean of the Harvard Law School — and, by the way, a possible Supreme Court nominee — has issued a statement regarding the allegedly racist email by a third-year Harvard Law School student that has been making the rounds. (We refer to the 3L in these pages as simply “CRIMSON DNA” or “DNA”; please do not post DNA’s real name in the comments.)
Not surprisingly for a law professor, Dean Minow avails herself of the teaching moment that the Harvard Black Law Students Association apparently passed on. She writes:
This sad and unfortunate incident prompts both reflection and reassertion of important community principles and ideals. We seek to encourage freedom of expression, but freedom of speech should be accompanied by responsibility. This is a community dedicated to intellectual pursuit and social justice. The circulation of one student’s comment does not reflect the views of the school or the overwhelming majority of the members of this community.
Dean Minow condemns the substance of the email in question:
Here at Harvard Law School, we are committed to preventing degradation of any individual or group, including race-based insensitivity or hostility. The particular comment in question unfortunately resonates with old and hurtful misconceptions. As an educational institution, we are especially dedicated to exposing to the light of inquiry false views about individuals or groups.
She also highlights a point we emphasized last night, namely, that BLSA did not publicize the email or pressure DNA’s future employer (a federal judge) to rescind a job offer.
The dean’s statement refers to an apology written by DNA. We haven’t seen the apology in question (although we’re trying to obtain it). If you have a copy, please email us (subject line: “HLS Apology”).
Dean Minow’s full statement appears after the jump.
Earlier today, we wrote about an email controversy emanating from the halls of Harvard Law School. A 3L at HLS — referred to in these pages simply as “CRIMSON DNA,” and please help us keep it that way — sent out an email message that some construed as “racist.” In the email, “CRIMSON DNA,” following up on remarks made during an apparently spirited dinner conversation, wrote as follows:
I absolutely do not rule out the possibility that African Americans are, on average, genetically predisposed to be less intelligent. I could also obviously be convinced that by controlling for the right variables, we would see that they are, in fact, as intelligent as white people under the same circumstances. The fact is, some things are genetic.
That was just the opening. Read the rest of DNA’s email over here.
Every time you put something into an email, please remember that someone you send it to may hit Forward. If your email makes the case for a biological reason for racial disparities in intelligence, someone might hit Forward and send it to Black Law Student Associations across the nation.
That’s what happened to a Harvard 3L yesterday. We’ll call this 3L CRIMSON DNA. According to our sources, DNA made some controversial comments about race at a dinner
held by the school’s Federalist Society.
CORRECTION: This dinner was not a Fed Soc dinner. [FN1]
After the dinner, DNA felt the need to send an email to a few friends clarifying those views. Here’s an excerpt:
I absolutely do not rule out the possibility that African Americans are, on average, genetically predisposed to be less intelligent. I could also obviously be convinced that by controlling for the right variables, we would see that they are, in fact, as intelligent as white people under the same circumstances. The fact is, some things are genetic. African Americans tend to have darker skin. Irish people are more likely to have red hair.
One of the 3Ls to receive that email, available in full after the jump, was very upset by it. We’ll call this student CRIMSON OUTRAGE. OUTRAGE arranged for the email to be sent out to the Harvard Black Law Student Association list-serv, including DNA’s name and the fact that after graduation, the author will be doing a federal clerkship.
CORRECTION: It now appears that OUTRAGE disseminated the email, several months after the email was originally sent, because she got into a fight with DNA — not because she (OUTRAGE) was offended by the email.
After that, the email went viral, apparently circulating to BLSAs across the country. There are now plans to try to go after DNA’s clerkship….
So what is Eliot Spitzer, former attorney general (and governor) of this great state of New York, up to these days?
As it turns out, it seems that the man formerly known as Client No. 9 is seeking elective office….
- Columbia Law School, Harvard Law Review, Rankings, Stanford Law School, U.S. News, University of Chicago Law School, Yale Law School
The new U.S. News law school rankings are out. Now it’s time to allow students and alumni to weigh in on their law school and their brand new rank.
At the very top, the order remains unchanged. Yale, Harvard, and Stanford continue to be kings of the U.S. News world. If prospective students can get into one of these schools, they should probably go. Biglaw, legal academia, and Article III clerkships await graduates of these prestigious institutions.
We know the stereotypes of the east coast schools. Yale is the elite training ground for clerks and scholars — and Biglaw dollars are available to those students who want a slice of the pie. Harvard is the most prestigious J.D. diploma factory in the world. HLS is all about big numbers: lots of students, and lots of money for graduates who dive into Biglaw.
Is Stanford the Yale of the west or Harvard of the west? Or would Stanford be ranked even higher but for “east coast bias”? Aside from U.S. News prestige, what’s special about Stanford that Berkeley students wouldn’t understand?
The subtle differences between the top-3 are questions for only a few LSAT rockstars.
Next, let’s check in on Chicago’s march up the rankings…
- Elena Kagan, Harvard Law School, John Paul Stevens, SCOTUS, SCOTUS Potential, Solicitor General's Office, Supreme Court
Many of the names that came up after Souter retired are bubbling back to the surface, but U.S. Solicitor General Elena Kagan has to be considered the front runner. Obama hasn’t said anything and Stevens is, you know, still there — but that didn’t stop the Harvard Crimson from handicapping the chances of former Harvard Law School Dean Kagan:
In the face of Justice John Paul Stevens’ impending retirement, the nomination of former Harvard Law School Dean Elena Kagan for the open seat on the Supreme Court has become a likely prospect.
If she is selected as President Barack Obama’s nominee, Kagan—who currently serves as the nation’s first female Solicitor General—will face a number of challenges on the road toward confirmation, including her lack of experience as a judge, her religious background, and her stance on the military.
Man, the “impending retirement” of J.P. Stevens is turning into a a Monty Python skit. But, so long as we’re here, let’s take another look at that religious question. It might be the only thing that could scuttle Kagan’s ascendancy to the high Court…
On Monday, we reported that the kick-off for Harvard Law’s 2010 Class Gift pissed off a lot of current HLS students. Commenters told us that similar class gift drives were alienating students across the country.
Well, it seems the class marshals at HLS got the message. They decided to try to sell their students on exactly what their donations might fund:
Dear Class of 2010:
We wanted to provide you with more information and perspective on the Class Gift. The Class Gift is small sum of money donated by graduating students. This year there are three options for donating to the Class Gift:
(1) The Harvard Law School General Fund…
(2) Student Financial Aid…
(3) The Post-Graduate Student Funded Fellowship
Oh don’t worry, these HLS kids aren’t done with their slice of humble pie…
You learn a couple of things doing that job: don’t let women call people who graduated before 1960 and think that girls still belong at Radcliffe. Make sure your accent is “good for all time zones” (mine is). And most importantly, don’t call up graduates of HLS asking for money unless you can handle rejection well. HLS graduates are more likely to cry about their backbreaking work schedules than voluntarily fork over $20.
Granted, I’m not the best person to ask. I try to avoid giving HLS the money that I already owe them — I’m not about to dip into my pocket to give them anything extra. But I think most people would rather give money to their undergraduate institution than to their law school. College is an experience; law school is a trial.
And that was before the recession.
Now that we’re in a situation of salary deflation and job uncertainty, one imagines that law schools are only getting money from the cold dead hands of recent graduates.
Harvard Law School students recently received an email reminding them about the 2010 class gift. When I was there, such reminders were met with annoyance. But this year, students reacted with outright anger. Are Harvard kids alone on the “I’m not giving you a penny” island?