The Crisis in Teaching Constitutional Law


Publish Date:
February 26, 2024
The New York Times
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“The people who taught us were all Warren court people,” said Pam Karlan, a constitutional and voting-rights expert at Stanford law school, referring to Chief Justice Earl Warren, who through the 1950s and 1960s led a court of both Democratic and Republican appointees to expand civil rights, equalize political representation and liberalize the criminal justice system.

Professor Kramer was the dean of Stanford law school at the time, and after the Heller ruling, he told me recently, “I couldn’t stand up in front of the class and pretend the students should take the court seriously in terms of legal analysis.” First-year law students, he felt, “should be taught by someone who still believed in what the court did.”

Michael McConnell, a conservative former federal appeals court judge who teaches at Stanford, was fine with the ultimate result in the New York gun case, but he rejected the legal reasoning the court used to get there. “Bruen is not right under its own principles,” he told me. “It purports to be applying originalist and historicist interpretation, and it gets it wrong.”
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