Back in the day, we took over buildings demanding that the school reform itself.
Yeah, I know. That was then, this is now.
More, the school was college and the reforms we sought had to do with eliminating some racist practices, reducing active participation in the Vietnam war, and recognizing that history, literature, and political thought didn't end around the time we adopted the Marshall Plan. There was some call for "relevance."
Oh, and while we were holding the buildings, we had lectures and classes on literature and politics and music and sociology and even the hard sciences.
Activism for geeks and nerds.
But you know, that was back in the day.
And that was then. This is now.
Which brings us, courtesy of Elie Mystal, to the cleverly named "Law Student's Bill of Rights" proffered (and by now I suppose voted on) by students at the University of Miami School of Law.
Now, not all bills of rights are created equal. There's this one, for instance
Which law students at Miami probably saw sometime and gave them the idea for theirs.
But you know, hell, let's just compare the documents a bit.
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Law Students' first item:
The right of students to be given an unbiased legal education shall not be infringed.
I sense a difference in gravitas.
And then there's the difference between actual rights and a fantasy of entitlement.
There's room for squabbling in the First Amendment. We as a people disagree about what's included in speech, for instance (see, e.g., Texas v. Johnson) and struggle sometimes over how to reconcile what may be seen as a disjunction between the Establishment and Free Exercise clauses. But at least we generally understand the idea.
But what the hell is an "unbiased" legal education? One in which the objectively correct answers to all legal questions are offered? Let's see how that works. The objectively correct answer to all legal questions is (and NO THIS IS NOT LEGAL ADVICE):
Got that. Fine. You pass. Go forth and be careful not to commit malpractice.
Or how about the eighth items.
Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.
OK, sure. We can argue at length about what is and isn't "excessive" or "cruel and unusual" and how you decide. But it's important stuff. Now, put that up against this.
In class, students shall not be expected to know material that was not covered in the assigned reading for that day's class, nor covered in any of the lectures and/or assigned readings prior to that day's class.
That's a good rule since no judge will ever ask a question that wasn't covered in the research that was provided the lawyer prior to the hearing.
Wait? That's not how judges operate? Damn. All these years.
I've got some sympathy for complaints about law school. It's boring. It's surprisingly intellectually vacuous. It's demeaning. It bears almost no relationship to mastering the practice of law (except that being bored and demeaned can be much like actual practice - which is also, often, intellectually vacuous).
Law students should, as all people should, be treated fairly and with respect. But this bit of self-validating vapidity doesn't advance that. This is about entitlement to ignorance. It's all about the test, don't you know. Don't make me know anything you won't test. Don't test anything you haven't made me know.
For godssake. If they think like this, no wonder law students can't find jobs.
You want to know about student rights?
Learn about Mario Savio. Except that requires learning. And he's not guaranteed to be on the test.
And then, of course, there's Phil Ochs.