list-serv craziness

Justice Clarence Thomas

Elie here. Imagine Santa Claus stopping by your house — except this time Saint Nick is a mute, who stuffs your stocking with personal responsibility and brings you wooden toys, because those were the only ones available when his legend was born.

Well, joking aside, Justice Clarence Thomas will be stopping by Yale Law School on December 14th. And since there won’t be a case in front of him, he’ll actually be talking.

But not to everybody. Sources tell us — and Yale Dean Robert Post confirmed, in a school-wide email — that Justice Thomas will be speaking to the Yale Federalist Society and to the Black Law Students Association, as well as attending a class and a private reception. He won’t be making any general public appearance.

Setting aside commencement, it’s fairly typical for guest speakers (including Supreme Court justices) to speak to specific student groups and not the law school at large. If Justice Elena Kagan went to Yale, she’d likely speak to the American Constitution Society and the Socratic Hard-Ass Faculty Coven.

Some students claim, however, that the Yale administration has contacted several student organizations and asked them not to protest during Thomas’s visit. We don’t know if that’s true, and a message from Dean Post (reprinted below) does not directly mention anything about student protests. But the mere rumor of Yale trying to quash protests, circulated on “The Wall” (the YLS list-serv), has made some students angry.

Should they be? Strap yourselves in for an ATL Debate….

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We’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of the “PC Police” at Northwestern Law School. The school seems to have a number of students who are easily offended. Some of the kids there overreact at the slightest provocation.

Do you want to see how they react when something actually offensive happens?

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Many people have a cartoonish understanding of Brazil.

At Northwestern Law, the PC Police have a long and storied history. You are, of course, free to say what you want to say, but if you offend other people’s cultural sensibilities, you had best expect a reaction from other Northwestern students — whether the cultural slight was real or just perceived.

This week, a group of Northwestern Law students planning a study abroad trip in Brazil got smacked down by the PC police for being insensitive toward Brazil’s culture.

Now, in fairness, everything I know about Brazil comes from cultural stereotypes. If I went, I’d expect to be hanging out with amazingly attractive women who get horny for Jesus, while the men play soccer by day and capoeira dance-fight at night. It would all be a wonderful time, unless I went into the rainforest, where I’d die in short order from either a new species of venomous mammal or at the hands of illegal loggers who are selfishly destroying the world’s best carbon scrubber.

Is that wrong? According to some Northwestern kids, I am way off base….

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Are tickets to law school commencement like organs? Or babies?

They’re not as necessary as organs, and they’re not as adorable as babies. But are graduation tickets, like organs and babies, so sacred that we should not allow them to be distributed through the free market?

(Some folks, like certain Chicago School law-and-economics types, think that we should be allowed to sell organs and/or babies. For better or worse, however, the rest of society hasn’t gone along with them.)

Let’s take a look at the commencement controversy brewing at one noteworthy law school….

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Remember that ironic message about the versatility of a law degree?

Now we bring you an ironic message about the value of a law degree….

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Sometimes you just have to whip it out and wait for somebody to bring over a ruler. That’s just a part of life.

But some lawyers seem to sit around all day just waiting for an opportunity to drop drawers and call for the chains.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at this guy from SNR Denton. He was reading the Middle East Practice Area ABA listserv and came across an innocent question and follow-up discussion. Instead of answering the question or providing any helpful information whatsoever, he shot off a quick little response about his firm’s own magnificence.

And to make matters worse (and hilarious), it turns out he didn’t even know what he was talking about in the first place…

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You have to hand it to the University of Michigan Law School. They always keep it interesting in Ann Arbor.

Today’s tale of wacky wolverines arises out of the law school’s “Mr. Wolverine” beauty pageant. Yeah, it sounds like exactly what it is. It’s a nice little event where Michigan men “dress down” for the amusement of their peers, with proceeds going to charity.

You’d like to think that a law school could pull one of these things off without turmoil, but this is Michigan. After the event, the student newspaper, Res Gestae, ran a review of the pageant authored by Chaka Laguerre. Laguerre is a Michigan Law student and a former Miss Jamaica World.

Laguerre’s review was a little bit snarky. And for reasons passing understanding, people got so pissed about it that the paper took the review down, and the Michigan listserv went nuts.

You’ve gotta love Michigan….

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The best time for law school emails is right before spring semester finals. People have been stressed for an entire year and things are just about to get worse, so you see law students just breaking down. The Crimson DNA affair came to light last April; hopefully we’ll get something good this year too.

The second best time to gawk at law students is right now — after Christmas break, but before spring break. Students come back to school and momentarily feel like they matter, like they’re important, like they should speak up when things happen to them.

Like a bear, I feast on the salmon run that comes at the end of the semester, but I’m more than happy to sample the berries and other fruits that become available at this particular time of year. Just this week, we’ve seen a Georgetown kid tell his classmates he is no cheater. We’ve got the BU kid who posted his grades on Facebook.

Today we’ve got pure gold from the University of Tennessee College of Law. Law students can bring the crazy on their own, but they’re so much more interesting when you can put two of them in a room together. Then you can just watch the sparks fly.

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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….

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It’s a heart-warming story turned cold.

Earlier this year, University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law 3L Ted Vogt was appointed to the State House of Representatives, after the previous seatholder was promoted to the Senate. Vogt, who went to Yale for undergrad, wasn’t necessarily a typical law student — age 37, he was the district chairman for the Republican party. Still, it was an exciting final semester of law school. He told the Arizona Capital Times in March:

“We’re actually on spring break now,” Vogt said. “It’s not the traditional spring break, but talk about an exciting spring break!”

Vogt said he is determined to find a way to balance his newfound legislative responsibilities with the last few weeks of his law school studies, and has the blessing of the school’s administration to spend time at the Capitol in Phoenix and away from the school.

He’s been busy at the Capitol. Since he took office, the Arizona House has passed two controversial laws that have made national news: the “birther” bill and the “racial profiling/legal papers” bill. Vogt voted yes on both bills.

Vogt had been a popular guy on campus. Prior to his appointment to the House, Vogt was voted by the class to be one of its graduation speakers. But now some of his classmates (and friends) — who see the bills as “racist measures” — have chilled towards him and changed their minds about wanting him as a speaker next month. Vogt plans to speak despite opposition from fellow students, according to the Arizona Sun. A debate has broken out on the list-serv about Vogt and the bills, and a number of students are planning to protest during his speech. What do they have in mind?

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