On March 10, 2011, Cato Institute scholar Walter Olson defended his new book, Schools for Misrule: Legal Academia and an Overlawyered America, as part of a panel discussion hosted by the Federalist Society chapter at the Law School. About 100 students and faculty attended.
Olson presented two examples of “bad ideas” that American law schools were responsible for promoting, to the detriment of the nation: an increased reliance on class action suits to remedy consumer liability claims, and an emphasis on surrendering U.S. sovereignty to ill-conceived international human rights law.
Prof. Brad Clary offered a rebuttal to Olson’s views on class action suits, noting that they are vital to addressing small injustices spread across large groups and that greater judicial review at the class certification stage would readily prevent abusive suits.
Prof. Oren Gross rebutted Olson’s views on international human rights law, arguing that while this body of law has never been perfect, America cannot choose areas of international law it likes (e.g., business law) versus those it finds “inconvenient.”
Prof. Dale Carpenter moderated the subsequent debate among Olson, Clary, and Gross and took questions from the audience.
On March 22, the Federalist Society chapter hosted a panel debate by Prof. Eugene Kontorovich of Northwestern University School of Law, Law School Adjunct Professor Duane Krohnke, and the Law School’s Dean, David Wippman, to consider diverse perspectives on the merits of the International Criminal Court (ICC). About 90 students and faculty gathered to hear the speakers, who answered questions after the debate.
Kontorovich argued that U.S. participation in the ICC would be unconstitutional, that the ICC undermines peace deals, and that it makes tradeoffs between justice and human lives that should be made only by democratically elected leaders.
Krohnke took the opposite position, arguing that the United States should join the ICC. Even though imperfect, Krohnke said, the institution provides an important mechanism for enforcing world norms and deterring human rights violations.
Wippman took a moderate position, arguing that the ICC is a good idea that has been badly implemented. He questioned whether it can truly succeed in its goals of punishing or deterring wrongdoers.
The event was co-sponsored by the Law School Democrats, the International Law Society, and the Criminal Justice League.
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