The University of Chicago School of Law is ranked consistently among the top three in the nation. Such rankings are based on the quality of a School’s facilities, the quality of its students, the quality of its teaching and its success in placements for its graduates. Crucially important to such a ranking, however, is the publication record of its faculty. For, ultimately, that is what any leading law school puts on the table in order to attract students and resources.
Unquestionably, in my judgment, for several decades, the Chicago Law School has ranked first in the nation with respect to the quality of its faculty and the success of its faculty in publishing in the world’s top journals. It is one of only two law schools in the world ever to have employed a winner of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences – Ronald Coase in 1996. The other law school, George Mason University, is a fast-rising competitor that won the Prize in 2002, through Vernon Smith.
So one might think that Barack Obama’s 12-year stint at Chicago Law would reflect a major success-stage in his metioric career. Not so, according to two of his brilliant colleagues, Richard Epstein and John Lott. Here is what they have to say:
‘I don’t think anything that went on in these chambers affected him,’said Richard Epstein, a libertarian colleague who says that he longed for Mr. Obama to venture beyond his ideological and topical comfort zones. ‘His entire life, as best I can tell, is one in which he’s always been a thoughtful listener and questioner, but he’s never stepped up to the plate and taken a full swing.’ www.newyorktimes.com/2008/07/30/us/politics/30law.html?pagewanted-all
‘When I was first introduced to Obama, he said: “Oh, you’re the gun guy.” ‘I responded: “Yes, I guess so.” “I don’t believe that people should be able to own guns,” Obama replied. I then suggested that it might be fun to have lunch and talk about that statement sometime. He simply grimaced and turned away, ending the conversation. That was the way numerous interactions with Obama went. At the one faculty seminar that I saw Obama attend, he asked a question, but it didn’t appear that the speaker understood the point. After the seminar, I went up to him telling him that I thought he had an interesting point but that it might have been clearer if he phrased it differently. Obama’s response was simply to turn his back.’ Grover G. Norquist and John R. Lott, Jr. Debacle. John Wiley & Sons, 2012.
Do these insights ring a bell concerning the first term of Obama’s presidency? Has Chicago law retained any other law professor on its faculty for 12 years without that professor securing a single publication?
Fool me once, shame on you! Fool me twice, shame on me!