The People V Harvard Law: How America s Oldest Law School Turned Its Back on Free Speech

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9781893554986: The People V Harvard Law: How America s Oldest Law School Turned Its Back on Free Speech
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In 2002, Kiwi Camara, a Filipino-American at Harvard Law School, joined most of his classmates in posting his class outlines for the previous year on the school web site. Controversy ensued because some found aspects of Camara's shorthand racially insensitive. In response, school administrators proposed a speech code. Harvard Law Graduate Andrew Peyton Thomas uses this controversy to take readers inside the administrative offices, faculty lounges, and classrooms of the nation's oldest and most prestigious law school. He finds freedom of speech and basic constitutional liberties clashing with racial demagogues, Marxist-inspired professors, and a smothering orthodoxy that seeks to silence student dissent. Thomas also ventures brilliantly off campus to reveal how what happens at Harvard Law affects the nation whose most powerful institutions are filled with its graduates.

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About the Author:

Andrew Peyton Thomas is himself a graduate of the Harvard Law School, and was a legal assistant for the Boston NAACP. He has written for the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard, National Review and other publications. Mr Thomas lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with his wife and three children.

From Publishers Weekly:

Polemicists in America's political wars often pick an institution (e.g. the media) and attack it for being dominated by an unwholesome ideology. Thomas, a warrior on the right, targets Harvard Law School, which he sees as in thrall to the mindless radicalism of the left and in particular to the ideology called critical legal studies. Adherents of this theory, according to Thomas, believe in tearing down the country's existing legal system and educating law students to become agents of leftist social change. The legal radicalism at Harvard was revealed most clearly, says Thomas, in 2002, through an incident in which two students and two professors made public statements regarded by black students as offensive. Protests and condemnations followed, leading to support for the adoption of a speech code at the law school. The code, as envisioned by its proponents, would have punished anyone who used words deemed offensive by members of selected minorities, such as African-Americans, women, the disabled or gays. Such a code subverts freedom of speech, says Thomas. (And he suggests that conservatives are the actual threatened minority at Harvard Law.) However, no speech code was enacted, as pressure for it evaporated under criticism from traditional liberals and because of widespread student indifference. The outcome undermines the book's thesis, but that scarcely deters the author from energetic pursuit of his attack. (Mar.)
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