Alito: ‘Tolerance for Opposing Views Is Now in Short Supply in Many Law Schools’

During a speech before the Federalist Society on Thursday, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito lamented that “tolerance for opposing views is now in short supply in many law schools and in the broader academic community.” And stated that recent law school graduates repeatedly tell him “that they face harassment and retaliation if they say anything that departs from the law school orthodoxy.”

Alito began by defending the Federalist Society, citing Justice Elena Kagan’s praise of the group while admitting that the Federalist Society is “not my people.” And stating that Kagan’s position is “a true expression of the freedom of speech that our constitution guarantees and that we need to preserve.”

He continued, “We should all welcome rational, civil speech on important subjects, even if we do not agree with what the speaker has to say. Unfortunately, tolerance for opposing views is now in short supply in many law schools and in the broader academic community. When I speak with recent law school graduates, what I hear over and over is that they face harassment and retaliation if they say anything that departs from the law school orthodoxy.”

Later on, Alito talked about a “growing hostility to the expression of unfashionable views.” He referenced the 1972 George Carlin “seven dirty words” routine and stated that “Today, you can see shows on your TV screen in which the dialogue appears at time to consist almost entirely of those words. Carlin’s list seems like a quaint relic. But it would be easy to put together a new list called: Things You Can’t Say if You’re a Student or a Professor at a College or University, or an Employee of Many Big Corporations. And there wouldn’t just be seven items on that list. Seventy times seven would be closer to the mark.”

Follow Ian Hanchett on Twitter @IanHanchett

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