June 17, 2008

"Hangings? C'mon, Dean Velvel -- shouldn't a liberal like yourself view that as violating the Eighth Amendment?"

David Lat has at that law school that's hosting a conference about whether George Bush should be convicted of war crimes — and executed.

What law school is this? It's the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover, which I'd never heard of. I note that it's a law school that does not require the LSAT:
Massachusetts School of Law interviews every applicant who wishes to attend the school. We believe the true measure of a person’s capabilities to be a good lawyer cannot be measured solely by sterile statistical data, which can never measure drive, dedication, obstacles overcome, perseverance, and a good heart....

Also, because of the considerable criticisms of the LSAT, Massachusetts School of Law does not consider the LSAT when making admissions decisions. Instead, it considers an essay test that the school itself has developed. The test is given at the time of the interview, and, most importantly, it is read and graded by a full time MSLAW professor who, based upon years of practical and academic experience, is well qualified to assess an applicant’s ability to think and write well. The requirement of a mandatory interview, the review of an applicant’s entire record in school and the work force, and the essay aptitude test enable the Admissions Committee to identify worthy students who would be denied admission to traditional law schools simply because of their LSAT scores.
This is an intriguing idea, actually! An applicant has to be interested enough in them to go there for an interview and to sit down and take a test. You can tell a lot about lawyerly aptitude by the way a person presents himself (or herself) in an interview. And I haven't seen the test, but if it's done right, it could very well be as good as the LSAT — and probably is more like a law school exam.

And, frankly, the conference isn't even such a terrible idea. It got our attention, it's a little bit inflammatory, but if the issue of war crimes is taken seriously and presented in an appropriately legal fashion, what is so bad about it?

ADDED: My Wisconsin Law School colleague Anuj Desai emails:
[Massachusetts School of Law Dean Lawrence] Velvel was the one who wrote an amicus brief in Grutter arguing that it is the over-reliance on the LSAT that necessitates affirmative action. You see whispers of the idea in Justice Thomas's opinion. (i.e. in the idea that Michigan's real gov't interest was not simply "diversity", but rather being elite and exclusive, while simultaneously having racial diversity).
From the amicus brief (PDF)
The type of affirmative action practiced by the University of Michigan Law School, and at issue in this case, is one that has been necessitated in significant part by the numbers-oriented admissions tools used by most law schools, especially the schools' heavy focus on the LSAT. Perhaps no other tool used in graduate school admissions has come under such attack in recent years as the LSAT, which for many decades has been the only admissions test approved by the ABA's Section of Legal Education. Because MSL uses a “holistic” approach to admissions, not a by-the-numbers approach, and does not rely in any way on the LSAT or any other standardized test, it does not need to use affirmative action in order to enroll qualified minority students. Rather, it considers a variety of factors when determining whether to admit a candidate, but race is not a “plus” or special factor in admissions decisions. In fact, MSL's admissions committee generally is not even aware of the race of an applicant. Yet MSL's minority enrollments are generally higher, year after year, than those of scores of the predominantly white ABA accredited schools. This is true even though New England has a low percentage of minorities, and a low percentage of minority college graduates, in comparison with such sections of the country as the Mid-Atlantic States, the South, and the industrialized upper Midwest where the instant case originates, and in comparison with major urban areas such as New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles, which are home to millions of minority citizens and to many law schools.

45 comments:

ricpic said...

Good hearted people hot to trot to execute. Yup. No cognitive dissonance there.

Richard Dolan said...

Ann says that the essay-cum-interview approach is an interesting idea for LS admissions. Perhaps, but the admissions committee members better have a lot of time on their hands. At a real LS, how many hours would it take to administer and grade, say, 5,000 essays, review all the personal detail of the applicants and then interview each applicant individually? And all of that to be done by full-time professors to boot. Once it was all done, someone would have to come up with a scale to normalize the results. Good luck.

As for what you can tell from an interview, I think the answer is not much.

But the real upside is one Ann doesn't mention. With an admissions process like that, it would keep the profs so busy that they wouldn't have time for silly exercises like "a conference about whether George Bush should be convicted of war crimes — and executed."

Carlo said...

i followed your link,professor Althouse, and got my question answered -- which was: is MSL even ABA accredited" ha ha

Revenant said...

I don't think left-wingers understand just how dangerous it is to treat policy disagreements as criminal acts. One of the main reasons we have a long history of peaceful transitions of power in this country is that the outgoing Administration know they aren't going to get strung up by the new folks. If an outgoing President can expect to be killed by the new leadership, he'd have to be insane to peacefully surrender the reigns of power.

There is a procedure for removing criminal Presidents from office: impeachment. Either use it or stop claiming the man's a criminal.

reader_iam said...

Revenant: Yes!

Bruce Hayden said...

I am somewhat surprised that they aren't ABA accredited. I would almost expect these days for such insanity to be a requirement for continued accreditation. Remember, this is the organization that is essentially requiring affirmative action by schools like George Mason just to keep their accreditation, despite the recent Supreme Court cases concerning the limited instances where that might be acceptable (i.e., it might be allowable for a limited time if a school showed a desire for diversity, but that is not going to fly with an ABA requirement).

It is silly, since there is no way that they could get a conviction. First, despite repeated claims by the left, GWB has not broken any laws, and even if he had ordered what turned out to be illegal actions, he has legal opinions to the contrary (from, for example, Yoo), and so lacks the requisite intent.

Secondly, the courts know that they would be treading on dangerous grounds if they were to allow prosecution for what are essentially policy and political disputes. If they start intruding into a presidents conduct of a war, even in retrospect, unless that conduct were extremely egregious, they would risk presidents ignoring them totally.

Third, the solution would be for exiting presidents to just pardon himself and his administration for pretty much anything they did while he was in office. After all, Bill Clinton traded pardons for campaign contributions for his wife's senatorial campaign and for building his library. Anything that Bush might do here to protect his administration (and himself) would be less egregious than that.

PatCA said...

In my experience, the personal essay and interview required for entrance into a particular program is to screen the applicants for the correct ideology.

What's so bad about this conference? I assume no one is speaking in opposition to the motion; therefore, it's indoctrination, not learning. I fear the lawyers graduated from this school will drive other lawyers and judges nuts for decades.

dmfoiemjsof said...

I wonder if the SS will show up.

P. Rich said...

"And, frankly, the conference isn't even such a terrible idea. It got our attention, it's a little bit inflammatory, but if the issue of war crimes is taken seriously and presented in an appropriately legal fashion, what is so bad about it?"

Althouse, you are such a tease. A Neoconscumbushitlerlover's first inclination is of course going to be a fire and brimstone response, after they put down the Bible and the handgun. This is a another perfect example of Althouse the provocateur (an approach which seems to work quite well).

I don't understand though why you would lend any credence to a nothing law school with a seriously flawed admissions process. I mean, that's a smelly little lump over in the corner of your professional teepee.

Freeman Hunt said...

What's so bad about this conference? It assumes that there is a prima facie case.

And Rev nailed it.

Kirby Olson said...

Lat's blog cited the Law School at Andover as especially wanting to grant legal degrees to immigrants, among others.

So maybe if they gave legal degrees to the terrorists presently detained at Gitmo, they could have their topsy turvy version of politics come to fruition, as the terrorists used the law degrees Andover granted them in order to accomplish their ends.

We could even let them become judges, and put the American government on trial.

Jim Hu said...

Althouse:And, frankly, the conference isn't even such a terrible idea. It got our attention, it's a little bit inflammatory, but if the issue of war crimes is taken seriously and presented in an appropriately legal fashion, what is so bad about it?

The linked post, quoting MSL:"This is not intended to be a mere discussion of violations of law that have occurred," says MSL's dean Lawrence Velvel in a statement announcing the conference. "It is, rather, intended to be a planning conference at which plans will be laid and necessary organizational structures set up, to pursue the guilty as long as necessary and, if need be, to the ends of the Earth."
Only a little bit inflammatory?

So... is this an example of the issue of war crimes being taken seriously OR being presented in an appropriate legal fashion?

Smilin' Jack said...

Shouldn't we do Clinton first? Since he's out of office, we can avoid the legal complications of hanging a sitting president. And there's plenty of charges to be brought: the whole Bosnia thing (no U.N. approval!) and even the bombing of that pharmaceutical plant in Sudan to distract attention from Monica ("That one bombing, according to the estimates made by the German Embassy in Sudan and Human Rights Watch, probably led to tens of thousands of deaths."--Noam Chomsky) Those are all things the left can get behind, and of course the right would love to see Clinton stretched for any reason.

A necktie party for Bill could be a healing experience for the whole country.

OldGrouchy said...

Good hearted peoples always want to hang their political opponents, haven't you learned anything from the past almost 8-years?

Jeez, why else would the Dems want to keep public executions around?

Now, there's a most valid exception to not hanging someone and that's reserved for ordinary criminals, who as everyone knows are the product of poor economic conditions mostly caused by those nasty Conservatives, especially those nasty Blue Dogs like Joe Lieberman.

Jeez Louise, when are you "crackers, rednecks," etc.. going to learn what the Dems are all about?

Simon said...

"[I]f the issue of war crimes is taken seriously," this conference is ludicrous.

Bruce Hayden said...
"[T]he solution would be for exiting presidents to just pardon himself and his administration for pretty much anything they did while he was in office."

I concluded a while ago that if a Democrat wins this fall, Bush should issue a blanket parden for everyone who ever did anything at the behest of his administration, down to the intern who manages the supply of paperclips in H&HS, and up to and including himself. It's a ghastly thing to do, and it stinks of banana republics, but if he doesn't do it, we'll spend the next five years with recriminations and politically-motivated criminal proceedings. The opposition has tied his hands. If they were even vaguely responsible, it wouldn't be necessary, but after eight long years, I think it's become abundantly clear that the Democratic party and its fellow-travellers have lost whatever capacity the might once have had to grasp the idea of political differences. Civil society becomes a moot point when half of it ceases to be civil.

The Drill SGT said...

Bat sh_t crazy!

I'm sure they make good PD's in the People Republic up there.

I just wish that some enterprising DA could use participation in a conference that planned to hang GB the next time one of the esteemed grads argues against the death penalty for a killer... Oh, I forgot, their state doesn't allow the death penalty.

apparently they hope that not only can they move GB to Washington state, convince a court to find him guilty of murder, (war crimes not being on the books there as a state offense), and finally convince GB to chose hanging as a method of execution.

Good luck on those 3

Smilin' Jack said...

David Lat has at that law school that's hosting a conference about whether George Bush should be convicted of war crimes — and executed....And, frankly, the conference isn't even such a terrible idea....what is so bad about it?

Well, one possible drawback is that when people start openly advocating the execution of the president, the Secret Service may take an interest in the proceedings.

UWS guy said...

Gosh, whatever did Lawyers do before the LSAT? I'm sure the IQ test that is the LSAT is nice for ranking, but should that be a bar to learing the law?

Lincoln did ok with a 1 year law degree...I hear guilds in the middle ages required arcane barriers of entry also, but please keep in mind, folks, that it all functions purely as a supply/demand control to keep prices high for your guild.

So, spare me moral outrage. Half of your paychecks are getting rubes to believe they need your help to incorporate, or write a will.

Palladian said...

It's an entire school filled with downtownlads.

Ann Althouse said...

"What's so bad about this conference? I assume no one is speaking in opposition to the motion; therefore, it's indoctrination, not learning."

Note that my question was: if the issue of war crimes is taken seriously and presented in an appropriately legal fashion, what is so bad about it?

You've changed the question asked. If you did that on my law school exam, you would not do too well.

Ann Althouse said...

Read the update to this post.

Simon said...

Ann Althouse said...
[PatCA said that because no one is speaking in opposition to the motion, it's indoctrination, not learning.] Note that my question was: if the issue of war crimes is taken seriously and presented in an appropriately legal fashion, what is so bad about it?"

Is challenging the predicate of the question no longer an acceptable rejoinder?

UWS guy said...
"Lincoln did ok with a 1 year law degree...I hear guilds in the middle ages required arcane barriers of entry also, but please keep in mind, folks, that it all functions purely as a supply/demand control to keep prices high for your guild. So, spare me moral outrage. Half of your paychecks are getting rubes to believe they need your help to incorporate, or write a will."

Such condescension from someone who makes a living selling a profoundly superfluous product to people who can't finish a bottle of wine in an evening might be considered fouling one's own nest, Cooper.

Ann Althouse said...

"'if the issue of war crimes is taken seriously and presented in an appropriately legal fashion, what is so bad about it?' Is challenging the predicate of the question no longer an acceptable rejoinder?"

My question isn't predicated on anything, it is a restricted hypothetical. Since it implies my own criticism of the conference if it's not in accord with that restriction, there is nothing to disagree with me about if your point is that you would only accept the conference if it were as I've provided. It would be quite another thing if I'd said: Since the issue of war crimes will be taken taken seriously and presented in an appropriately legal fashion, what is so bad about it? Then you could say I'm making an unwarranted assumption. But I'm not saying that, because I have no idea how the conference is going to be done.

UWS guy said...

Hmmm...good try simon. I'll ignore the very poor analogy of equating a school that doesn't use the LSAT being coterminous with an entrepreneur filling a niche with patented device.

Ohh, and you used my real name! Gasp! You've unmasked me. Why don't you be creepier and find my home address and post it on here while you're at it?

UWS guy said...

Ha, and if I made my living with the UWS I wouldn't be able to afford the broad band connection that allows me to read and post on this blog.

sadly.......

UWS guy said...

All of which has nothing to do with the price of corn in Iowa.

The real question is, aren't lawyers in school suppose to go through hypotheticals? Is this hypothetical beyond the realm of possible law?

For example, I'm quite sure McCain and Obama's lawyers (if they're worth their salt) will be brainstorming mock repeats of the florida recount, or preparing arguments to the effect that the electoral college is unconstitutional even...

Would it indeed be against cruel and unusual punishment to hang a president were he to be convicted of a war crime?

Tagore said...

While I wouldn't want to endorse everything Steve Sailer has to say, I think he's basically right that most degree programs, these days, are IQ tests by proxy (that, and measures of social standing).

Deciding that you are not going to consider LSATs means to me that you are just going to let in people you like. I'll be sure to not employ any graduates of this school in the future. I want a lawyer who scored better than me on the LSAT. I took it once, no prep, for fun. I scored in the 170s. I would not want a lawyer who scored below 170.

UWS guy said...

You disprove your own thesis with your post tagore.

Tagore said...

UWS guy says: "You disprove your own thesis with your post tagore."

Would you like to elaborate on that a bit? I'm a big fan of the self-discrediting statement, and I'd be thrilled if you could point it out in what I wrote.

UWS guy said...

You said the LSAT is an IQ test, but you are clearly a moron :D

Tagore said...

Ah, I see. The self-discrediting statement is on your side. There's a bit of irony here, but I don't imagine that you are bright enough to get it.

Out of curiosity: when did you graduate from the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover?

UWS guy said...

You know why arguing on the internet is like the special olympics don't you?...

Kirk Parker said...

Jim Hu,

MSL says: "... to pursue the guilty as long as necessary and, if need be, to the ends of the Earth."

You ask: "is this an example of the issue of war crimes ... being presented in an appropriate legal fashion?"

I reply: well, Javert was an officer of the court, was he not? :-)

Tagore said...

UWA guy asks: "You know why arguing on the internet is like the special olympics don't you?..."

I'd like to propose an alternate answer for this joke- arguing with you on the internet is a lot like competing in the special olympics because I have an unfair advantage, in that I am not developmentally retarded.

UWS guy said...

For someone with a purported 170+ on the LSAT you sure are defensive- in a rather vulgar way- about your supposed intelligence.

I have an alternate answer to your mockery inducing comment about never hiring someone who didn't score 170+ on the lsat.

I propose that were you ever to say that in an interview, verbatim from you post, no one would ever hire you!

Seven Machos said...

We're comparing LSAT scores now?

Tagore said...

You sure are full of non-sequiturs UWS. I don't interview much these days, but I'm pretty sure that LSAT scores would not come up if I were interviewing. 'Cause I'm not a lawyer ;).

On the other hand, I don't think that anyone who asks "You know why arguing on the internet is like the special olympics don't you?..." (the ellipses after the question mark are a nice touch, btw) should call anyone else vulgar.

Fen said...

The real question is, aren't lawyers in school suppose to go through hypotheticals? Is this hypothetical beyond the realm of possible law?

Didn't your kind castigate John Yoo and the "torture" memos for pretty much the same thing?

Nice set of situational ethics.

knoxwhirled said...

I can't wait for Bush to be out of office just so the temper tantrums like this end. It's frightening to me that these are supposed to be informed, educated people and they're putting what amounts to their political wet dreams on display. Revenant and Bruce Hayden are right. This is the kind of stuff Banana Republics thrive on.

PatCA said...

I guess you would have to define "taken seriously" and "appropriate legal fashion" if you want non-lawyers to opine.

Also, re the LSAT as an entrance requirement, if the Courts can throw out that requirement, can't they also add requirements? Do you really want the Courts to decide who gets to attend college and professional schools?

UWS guy said...

My kind? I'm all for torturing AQ detainees...

Go pick on another kind of democrat. I'm full of contradictions!

UWS guy said...

God Damn, do some people watch so much cable news that they think real life fits into a Hannity and Colmes dichotomy?

Kirk Parker said...

I'm trying to figure out how to understand the people from MSL quoted here (and others like them). Either:

1. They just enjoy talking trash,

2. They have no clue that genuine civil war lies down the path they're pointing to, or

3. They do have a clue but hope/assume their side will win.

Clearly option #3 is the most reprehensible. As for the other two, there's probably no point in trying to decide which is worse, but surely either should disqualify someone from being taken seriously.

What other alternatives am I missing?

rightwingprof said...

I have an in-law on the faculty at the UM law school. He's a constant source of embarrassment.

JOHN said...

My advice to Dean Velvel, with all due respect, is to take some of that money & time you have accumulated over the years, roll up your sleeves, accept the fact you never made it in Washington and do some good charitable work, rather than acting like an immature, childish jackass.