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Campus Follies

I love George Mason University. But outside of GMU’s Department of Economics and its Scalia School of Law, GMU is not without officious, illiberal, unthinking, pretentious would-be tyrants. Some of these uncivilized people are protesting GMU Law’s hiring U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Brett Kavanaugh to teach some classes.

Several days ago I, as a GMU faculty member, received an e-mail asking me to sign a petition to persuade the powers-that-be at GMU to prohibit Kavanaugh from teaching at the Law School. Here’s my reply.

Mr. Spann:

Although I am no great fan of Justice Kavanaugh’s jurisprudence, I will not sign your petition.

I believe – strongly – that universities should truly be places of open dialogue, and venues for sharing truly diverse ideas that pass intellectual muster. Just as importantly, if my colleagues in GMU’s Scalia School of Law judge Justice Kavanaugh to be competent to teach classes there, I – who have no expertise in this matter (despite my having a law degree) – am not fit to second-guess their decision. And I would never be so presumptuous or arrogant to attempt to do so.

Dean [Henry] Butler and his colleagues have built a world-class school of law; they have a track record that deserves respect. They also have every incentive to run their shop as they judge best without any officious interference from those of us who have neither their knowledge about what it takes to supply high-quality instruction in the law nor their stake in ensuring that such instruction is indeed supplied.

Justice Kavanaugh was convicted of no crime and he is, of course, a sitting Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court. Therefore, regardless of whatever I or you believe or might suppose about the man, I cannot remotely begin to see even a glimpse of a shadow of a good reason why we should not trust Dean Butler and his colleagues to have made a sound decision about this matter.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
James Buchanan Hall


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