After Scalia left [the University of Chicago Law School] it hired now-Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama and started offering classes like Obama’s popular “Current issues in Racism and the Law.” Scalia never mentioned Obama or any other professor. But Scalia bemoaned the proliferation of exotic law classes in the country’s law schools. “I took nothing but bread-and-butter classes, not “Law and Poverty,” or other made-up stuff, Scalia said to laughter. He said his advice to law students was: “Take serious classes. There’s so much law to learn. Don’t waste your time.”
I’m well aware that Scalia and his Federalist Society friends get their kicks by driving liberals crazy by saying stuff like this, but it would be a lot easier to ignore if there wasn’t so much evidence that he believes every word he’s saying. To Scalia, a law school course inquiring into what effect poverty might have on peoples’ relationship to the legal system simply isn’t a legitimate part of the curriculum. Studying such matters is “political” you see, and law isn’t supposed to be political — it’s supposed to be neutral, in its majestic equality, toward people of all economic conditions.
It’s impossible to improve on the words of Anatole France, applicable as they are to so many times and places:
Another reason to be proud, this being a citizen! For the poor it consists in sustaining and preserving the wealthy in their power and their laziness. The poor must work for this, in presence of the majestic equality of the law which prohibits the wealthy as well as the poor from sleeping under the bridges, from begging in the streets, and from stealing bread. That is one of the good effects of the Revolution. . . . The Revolution only made stronger, under the pretence of making all men equal, the empire of wealth. It has betrayed us into the hands of the men of wealth. They are masters and lords. The apparent government, composed of poor devils, is in the pay of the financiers. For one hundred years, in this poisoned country, whoever has loved the poor has been considered a traitor to society. A man is called dangerous when he says that there are wretched people. There are laws against indignation and pity, and what I say here could not go into print.