Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Oh Hastings, How You Continue To Fail Students

So, I heard today that Hastings now offers as one of its 1L elective statuory classes a new Legislation selection taught by Ethan J. Leib. His resume is impressive if you look at law school as a place to insulate students from knowing anything about how the non-law-world operates.

Hastings, of course, already had a professor teaching legislation who has - wait for it - actual experience working directly with a legislature. How insane is that!

People wonder why I'm daily thankful for my CMC education but not my Hastings education? This is why. CMC managed to unite intense academic study with practical experience to make sure we could go forth in the world and both understand AND live in it. Not so much with Hastings. All law schools really.

The final straw, however, comes from Prof. Leib's book,
Deliberative Democracy In America: A Proposal For A Popular Branch Of Government. I should've known from his class listings including "direct democracy" that this guy and I would not likely be besties:

We are taught in civics class that the Constitution provides for three basic branches of government: executive, judicial, and legislative. While the President and Congress as elected by popular vote are representative, can they really reflect accurately the will and sentiment of the populace? Or do money and power dominate everyday politics to the detriment of true self-governance? Is there a way to put "We the people" back into government? Ethan Leib thinks there is and offers this blueprint for a fourth branch of government as a way of giving the people a voice of their own.

While drawing on the rich theoretical literature about deliberative democracy, Leib concentrates on designing an institutional scheme for embedding deliberation in the practice of American democratic government. At the heart of his scheme is a process for the adjudication of issues of public policy by assemblies of randomly selected citizens convened to debate and vote on the issues, resulting in the enactment of laws subject both to judicial review and to possible veto by the executive and legislative branches. The "popular" branch would fulfill a purpose similar to the ballot initiative and referendum but avoid the shortcomings associated with those forms of direct democracy. Leib takes special pains to show how this new branch would be integrated with the already existing governmental and political institutions of our society, including administrative agencies and political parties, and would thus complement rather than supplant them.
No no no no no no no no no no no no no no no NO!

Wait, you want an group of people to come together and deliberate about pressing issues of public policy.

IT'S CALLED A LEGISLATURE, YOU KNOW, THE FIRST BRANCH OF GOVERNMENT.

Sweet baby Jesus, how on earth does someone who comes up with this as a novel approach to solving our problems get tasked with teaching baby lawyers about legislation. Clearly he doesn't believe in it.

This offends me as a lawyer, a former law student, a student period, a thinking person, a First Branch Loyalist, and an American.

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