Currents

    Some Still Protesting ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Ruling

    Despite outrage over the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the much-maligned Solomon Amendment, a majority of surveyed law schools have shown little increase in faculty and student protests against military recruitment on campus, a new study says.

    The amendment, which gives military recruitmers full access to public university campuses, became a topic of controversy in the 2005 lawsuit Rumsfeld v. Forum for Academic and Institutional Rights. The suit, filed by a coalition of law schools, alleged that the military’s discriminatory “”don’t ask, don’t tell”” policy violated the campuses’ First Amendment rights. Despite the court’s decision to uphold the amendment, the ruling encouraged those who wished to protest against the recruitment to feel free to do so “”while retaining eligibility for federal funds.””

    However, a high percentage of the 112 law schools that responded to the survey reported little to no increase in anti-military activism, according to National Association for Law Placement Executive Director James G. Leipold.

    A panel at the American Association of Law Schools’ annual meeting in Washington, D.C. suggested that frustration and fatigue caused by trying to change the discriminatory practices could be a factor in the low numbers. However, many believe that the coming months – with a Congress controlled by Democrats – could potentially aid the fight to change this long-standing law.

    Study: Law Schools Lack Ethics, Practicality

    While many American law schools excel at teaching their students how to think like attorneys, they lack emphasis on practical applications of trial skills and ethical foundations, a new study from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching suggests.

    The two-year study, focused on 16 law schools throughout Canada and the United States, says that while the schools do a good job of training students to perfect “”a distinctive habit of thinking”” in the manner of a lawyer, but also that that alone is not an adequate foundation for a legal career.

    “”Learning to think like a lawyer … is insufficient as a basis for becoming a competent legal professional,”” Carnegie senior scholar and study co-author William M. Sullivan said.

    Instead, Sullivan and the other authors encourage a three-part, integrated curriculum that emphasizes the moral and ethical considerations of legal practice yet still values legal scholarship over clinical instruction.

    The study also suggests that schools increase the number of “”capstone”” opportunities for second- and third-year students designed to help them develop skills in their area of focus and pursue advanced clinical training in an atmosphere of significant faculty presence.

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