Remove the American Bar Association from accreditation of lawyers and law schools
by Quin Hillyer, Commentary Writer |
February 12, 2022 06:04 AM
No political hack pack should have the power to decide who is accredited to practice law in U.S. courtrooms.
That is the gist of the message, indeed a very wise message, from William A. Jacobson and Johanna E. Markind of the Legal Insurrection blog. The two wrote at RealClearPolitics this week against the power of the American Bar Association. Their immediate focus is the ABA “forcing wokeness on law schools,” but their critique is broader than that. They make a compelling argument that states should “stop requiring bar applicants to graduate from an ABA-accredited school” or should institute “state licensing” rather than ABA accreditation in order for applicants to take the bar exam.
The first part of the Jacobson-Markind piece is sort of the law school version of the fight over critical race theory in elementary and secondary schools.
“The American Bar Association [is] poised to mandate race-focused study as a prerequisite to graduating from law school,” they reported, referring to a proposal due for consideration later this month. Rather than merely concern itself, in its accreditation function, with standards based on “general principles of legal education,” “knowledge and understanding of substantive and procedural law,” and “legal analysis and reasoning [and] legal research,” the ABA now is trying, in the words of some Yale University professors who object, to “institutionalize dogma.”
The standards would require law schools to teach, and students to take, “courses on racism and bias in the law” and to “promote a justice system” that is anti-racist. Of course, those determining what is anti-racist will be from the Left, which is where most law school administrations and the ABA itself reside.
The authors provide copious evidence that the ABA is indeed a left-wing interest group and that the more and more it has become a leftist lobby, the fewer and fewer the number of lawyers who actually join it. As more non-leftists avoid the ABA, the ABA then moves further leftward in a sort of one-way ratchet.
The direction of the ABA’s bias is nothing new. It has been thus for at least 40 years — as almost all conservatives in the legal community can readily attest. And in its role as arbiter of who is “qualified” and of the degree of those qualifications for federal judgeships, Jacobson and Markind remind us that the ABA’s decades long liberal bias is easy to prove.
It makes no sense to treat a political pressure group such as the ABA as if it were still a neutral arbiter and guarantor of professional standards. That’s why, on every level, its march toward mandatory wokeness must be resisted.
First, lawyers with sense should fight tooth and nail against the proposed race-related accrediting requirements, even though the battle will be uphill. Second, as the authors suggested, states should move as hard and fast as possible to remove the ABA from its role as an accreditor. Third, the next time Republicans are in a full majority in the elected branches of the federal government, they should eliminate all provisions in federal law that appoint or recognize the ABA as an accreditor.
The ABA has every right to make its views known, as do all other groups exercising constitutional rights to free association and speech. The ABA, though, has no right to make its views mandatory as part of a gatekeeping function for those who want to practice law — including the legal work involved in protecting those very rights from encroachments, such as the one the woke ABA is so eager to institute now.
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