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R. Emmett Tyrrell
R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr.
11 Feb 2016
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A Victory for Campus Diversity


WASHINGTON — Something very good has just taken place on a college campus. After a two-year ordeal orchestrated by a group of mutinous faculty members, the Ave Maria School of Law has been given a clean bill of health by the American Bar Association and can continue with its work. I spoke on the campus last autumn and departed burdened by gloom. I feared the mutineers might win. They were the typical professorial grumblers, and such unhappy philistines so often have the upper hand on campuses.

Truth be known, I spend very little time on college campuses. The life of the mind nowadays is celebrated so rarely in academe. A livelier cultural atmosphere can be found at a Starbucks cafe or health food emporium. On most university campuses, the bulletin boards sulk with notices about "Rape Awareness Week," "Anger Management Counseling," "The Readings of the Prophet Obama." A half-century ago, things were different. Learning was widespread on campus — at least among the profs. Free thought was encouraged, even among the profs. In the humanities, there were distinguished professors, at least on the best campuses, where they wrote and taught and often seemed to live the good life. Even the faculty communists were relatively pleasant.

The university at the middle of the 20th century was a happy place, congenial to civilized thought. Today it is gloomy, populated — particularly in the humanities — by narrowly opinionated adepts of identity politics and sham studies: the feminists, the black-studies lecturers and other special interests too esoteric to mention. The prevalence of these irritable sciolists explains why in the nation today there are so few historians of the stature of, say, Arthur M. Schlesinger or Samuel Eliot Morison; political philosophers of the stature of Leo Strauss; or political scientists of the stature of Hans J. Morgenthau.

Frankly, when I am asked to appear on an American campus, I beg off, protesting coyly that the place might be too dangerous. I have not had my vaccinations. I have a date on the shooting range at the National Rifle Association. Yet when I was asked to speak at the Ave Maria School of Law, I did so with alacrity.

My friend Judge Robert Bork is a founding member of the faculty. The incomparable Justice Antonin Scalia advised at the founding of the school. Though it was founded to teach the law based on the moral precepts of the Catholic Church, I knew I would be free to say precisely what I thought — no thought police, though, of course, I might not be invited back.

The faculty was composed of intelligent minds, as far as I could tell. The students were intelligent, polite and not rived by the petty discord found on larger campuses. What is more, the governing administrators were generous and serious. Dean Bernard Dobranski is a learned fellow, who, with Judge Bork, has been teaching an important course: "The Moral Foundations of the Law." From what I know of the course, most of the country's lawyers would be improved by it, except for those who would find the concept inscrutable and unprofitable. The law school simply would not exist were it not for the philanthropic founder of Domino's Pizza, Tom Monaghan. When he and his board of governors decided to move the campus from Ann Arbor, Mich., to be closer to Monaghan's other project, Ave Maria University in Naples, Fla., a minority of faculty rebelled, sending a dozen or more charges to the American Bar Association.

Their hope was that the ABA would revoke the Ave Maria School of Law's ABA accreditation. The ABA boiled the mutineers' complaints down to one. Now, after a comprehensive investigation, the ABA has found that contrary to the surviving complaint, Ave Maria is fully capable of attracting and maintaining competent faculty. With this, it is considered highly likely that the ABA will acquiesce to the planned move to Naples in 2009, over the howls of the irritable profs who filed their nuisance complaints.

Among the professoriate of the land, diversity is supposedly a desirable value. Well, certainly a law school that teaches the law based on Christian values adds to the diversity of the nation's law programs. I wish Ave Maria's students and faculty well and hereby offer to speak on campus again, at least after they flee chilly Ann Arbor for Naples, by which I mean the cisatlantic Naples, the one without the garbage problems.

R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. is founder and editor-in-chief of The American Spectator, a contributing editor to The New York Sun, and an adjunct scholar at the Hudson Institute. His newest book is "The Clinton Crack-Up: The Boy President's Life After the White House." To find out more about R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at



1 Comments | Post Comment
Sir; I wish I could support you in the belief that morality has some relation to law. Law is immoral because coersion never makes a moral argument. The Catholics have a perfectly good moral argument against abortion, and they ruin it every time the try to make another law. Making laws is easy, but the expensive, and the difficult way to end abortions is to form a real lasting relationship with the mother, adopt the child before birth, and continue after, with both as a part of your family. I don't do it. Those who hate abortions don't do it. They would rather see freedom end for all than take on their Christian social responsibilities for others. Let me clue you in: If a woman is not free in her body and in what she does with it she is not free, and if women are not free, men are not free. Now, the church is happy limiting the freedom. And the church has always enjoyed as much freedom as the nobility, and more freedom than the peasants at much less cost. The problem is not with this little two bit law school. Michigan has got at least two top notch law schools, one of which graduated my son. The problems this country faces are all legal problems, and that includes all of the falilures of law housed in our prisons. We have had Western Law for just about a thousand years now, and it has made every failure in international relations, and every revolution into a legal event. You may not know this; but the individual as we know him, as a legal entity, was an invention of the church. Which brings me back to the first point. The individual is immoral just as the law is immoral. Every person acting with his community, however outrageous it might appear from outside, is act ing morally. It is because at heart, morality is not a quality reasoned out in law schools or court rooms, but is a result of emotions, and of emotional connectedness. We find morality with our own families easy, Likewise with our own communities, and churches. Moral feeling becomes more difficult and strained once we move out of our element, and so, people make the moral argument, and finally enforce behavior with law. But the individual cannot be moral, and we recognize that in this land where so many of our heroes are outlaws. In one sense, morality makes communities, and communties hold to a common moral view . In another sense, morality might be seen as the point where each is joined with the community, and beyond which one is immoral. But how much of justice, which should be moral, and how much of morality itself is considered in the making of law? When people have the force of law at their disposal they no longer have to consider how it might hurt others, and think only of how it might help them. Even the invention of the individual helps the powerful because it isolate the one against those united to exploit him. Ultimately, a community is that group that will defend ones rights. The legal community has become a community apart. They no longer have to consider morality as a reality, and now need only consider it in the abstract. Morality is never abstract. Moral is always going to be what people are, and moral behavior is what moral people do. It is not a result of what people think. It is a natural result of who people are, and that is not easily changed with law. If you want people to bahave morally toward others, you must expand their communities, and help them to function. But law, with its individual is the sworn enemy of communites and has always attacked their power and hold over their members. And it does not matter if it is some gang, a religious sect, or a labor union; because law will attack them. Law even limits the power of famiies. It is no wonder that this most law bound people in the world has more people in prison per capita than any other. Law has failed us. You root for the victor over vanquished. Law has us at the point of a sword. Thanks. Sweeney
Comment: #1
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Fri Jul 25, 2008 1:28 AM
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