by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Law students who oppose the twin constitutional pillars of free speech and the sanctity of contracts should never work as lawyers. Journalism students who oppose free speech should also never work in a professional newsroom.
Colleges that encourage their students to embrace illiberal positions against two of the things that make America great are depriving the nation of a new generation of competent professionals. They are doing the nation a grave disservice, to say nothing of the students they are misleading. And they should not be permitted to get away with it.
Recent developments at Yale Law, Georgetown Law School, the University of Virginia, and elsewhere point to a frightening trend that could render these and other institutions unfit to teach or proffer degrees that employers will want to honor.
This fall, Georgetown Law School will require all first-year students to take a contracts course that is really an anti-contracts course. It does not teach basic principles of contract law so that students can become competent lawyers — rather, it propagates an ideology that all American property law is rooted in “the history of dispossession and appropriation” and that “intellectual property has a cultural appropriation problem.” Georgetown students will also be forced to waste time that should be used to learn the law taking an elective course “certified” to “focus on the importance of questioning the law’s neutrality.”
This is a truly noxious trend that undermines this nation’s greatest treasure — the rule of law. Indeed, it is the law of contracts that hinders powerful people from dispossessing the weak. Property rights, as Peruvian scholar Hernando de Soto has shown through a career of research, are the surest safeguard against a situation like that in Russia today, where only those who latch on to the powerful can be safe in their possessions and everyone else can be dispossessed. The superwealthy and the oligarchs always have special privileges, but only contracts and strong property rights can protect ordinary people.