[Guest post by DRJ]
President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan made several changes as Dean of Harvard Law School. Many commentators have focused on her ban on military recruiting but CNS news reports on another major change — eliminating U.S. Constitutional law as a required course:
“As dean, Kagan won approval from the faculty in 2006 to make major changes to the Harvard Law’s curriculum.
“My understanding is that she instituted three new courses to the required curriculum and, in so doing, got rid of a requirement to take constitutional law,” Robert Alt, senior legal fellow and deputy director of the Center for Legal and Judicial Studies at the Heritage Foundation, told CNSNews.com.
“Currently, at Harvard, constitutional law is not required for first-year law students, or even for graduation,” Alt added.
Indeed, according to Harvard documents, constitutional law is not listed among the law school’s academic requirements, though the catalogue for 2010-2011 does list more than a dozen elective courses dealing with some form of constitutional law.
But in a 2006 Harvard news release explaining the changes, Kagan explained the move away from constitutional law was deliberate: “From the beginning of law school, students should learn to locate what they are learning about public and private law in the United States within the context of a larger universe — global networks of economic regulation and private ordering, public systems created through multilateral relations among states, and different and widely varying legal cultures and systems.
“Accordingly, the Law School will develop three foundation courses, each of which represents a door into the global sphere that students will use as context for U.S. law,” the guide said.”
American law students trained in the “global sphere … as context for U.S. law” instead of in U.S. Constitutional law? I don’t know what they call that in Boston. In Texas, we call that BS.
UPDATE: Media Matters points out an error in the CNS report because Harvard Law School had already dropped its Con Law requirement prior to Dean Kagan’s curriculum changes. As noted here, the prior curriculum encouraged students to take Con Law but it was not a required course.
UPDATE 2: My thanks to pizzathehut for his tenacity on this topic. The title of the post is in error since, unlike most of its top-tier brethren, Harvard Law did not require Con Law so the course wasn’t “eliminated” as a required course by Dean Kagan or her immediate predecessors. My apology for the error.