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Academic Freedom and Political Neutrality in Law Schools: An Essay on Structure and Ideology in Professional Education

By J. Peter Byrne


My topic for this essay is the role of institutional political neutrality in fostering a vital academic freedom within a law school. It is necessary to explain what this inquiry embraces and why it is a useful entry into our concerns. Traditionally, the political neutrality of the university has been seen as the foundation for the academic freedom of the professoriate. But the media today vibrate with complaints about \u22political correctness\u22 in legal education, meaning an administrative sponsorship of certain social ideals in a manner that restricts criticism or debate.1 Also, political contention over the shape of legal education has been seen as corrupting faculty hiring and promotion. Given these concerns, it is helpful to consider the nature of the political neutrality that supports academic freedom and consider the extent to which it appropriately applies to legal education today. I take up these difficult questions not with the hope of escaping criticism, but in the hope that forthright debate about the purposes and procedures of legal education will genuinely illuminate our position and options

Topics: Legal Education, Legal Writing and Research
Publisher: Scholarship @ GEORGETOWN LAW
Year: 1993
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