March 28, 2005

Teaching the Schiavo case.

I wonder if lawprofs are going to teach the Schiavo case in their classes, at least this semester, when the issue is very present in everyone's mind. I don't know if I'd put it in my Constitutional Law class, but it seems to me to fit well with Federal Courts/Federal Jurisdiction, which is my other class. We've studied Congress's power to regulate the jurisdiction of the federal courts and various federalism-based doctrines limiting the intrusion of federal courts into state court matters, and we are about to study habeas corpus, which deals with federal court review of state court judgments in criminal cases.

Examining a hot, current case takes time away from planned topics. Certainly, we did it back in the days of Bush v. Gore. I remember coming in to teach about federal question jurisdiction in Civil Procedure when the Bush-Gore litigation was just starting and the class expressing shock that I wasn't going to talk about it. So I talked about it, but a doggedly made it about federal question jurisdiction too!

Back when I went to college, we Baby Boomer students expected every teacher to put every subject to the side and talk about Vietnam. A vogue word of the time was "relevant," and we were very harsh about informing teachers that they weren't "relevant." I remember the the professors accommodating us -- following their own political hearts? -- by reordering the Western Civilization class so that every topic was "revolution" -- which seems so laughably lame now.

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