Tuesday, March 21, 2023
New Article: Moral Imperative—Legal Requirement: Why Law Schools Should Require Poverty Law and International Human Rights
Eric J. Boos, Moral Imperative - Legal Requirement: Why Law Schools Should Require Poverty Law and International Human Rights, 19 U. St. Thomas L.J. 63 (2023). Abstract below.
This paper argues that the growing undercurrent of discontent in this nation, which has manifested in increasing levels of civil unrest, violence, crime, mass shootings, and political chaos, is symptomatic of the ever-increasing disparity in wealth that political philosophers, sociologists, economists such as Alan Greenspan, and politicians such as Bernie Sanders, have warned against. This paper further argues that this disparity is, in large measure, facilitated by the legal establishment. Lawyers are at the heart of the global financial crisis, the restructuring of the criminal justice system as a “for-profit” enterprise, the 900+ police shootings since 2014, the $2 billion of property confiscated under civil forfeiture rules, the mass incarceration policies, the recent environmental scandals, the protection of monopolies in agribusiness, pharmaceuticals, and telecommunications, the dysfunctional system of immigration and deportation, and the deplorable and racially biased legal processes for capital crimes and the death penalty. Unfortunately, the response to the increasing levels of discontent has been a predictable increase in policing tactics, legalistic controls, political fearmongering, social vitriol, and intolerance against targeted populations. Society is ripping apart at the seams, and the response has been a fascist-like clampdown—a trajectory first predicted by Mortimer Adler in 1938. Citing the deplorable state of higher education, Adler averred that America would become the next great fascist state in the World. This paper applies Adler’s critique of higher education to America’s law schools and argues that what is needed to change the trajectory is a different approach to legal education. The justification for a restructuring of American legal education is rooted in the fact that lawyers have a special obligation under the Constitution of the United States to achieve justice and to vitiate the tendency of economic and social stratification that occurs in society. The restructuring would ideally include a comprehensive overhaul of the curriculum so that each course addresses the issue of justice (in the Platonic sense and in the sense our Founders used it), but at a minimum it should require courses in Poverty Law (because of our deplorable track record in that area) and International Human Rights (because we live in a global society and justice is a universal goal).