Mark Pulliam at Liberty and Law explores a theme I raised in Schools for Misrule: the ABA accreditation process for law schools is ideologically fraught and pushes the schools toward certain prescribed views of social justice. Even for well-established, high-ranking schools the process can be an arduous one, propelled by “what the ABA euphemistically calls ‘site visits,’ but would more commonly be referred to as compliance inspections.” And the standards are not neutral — in particular not Standard 206, which establishes “diversity and inclusion” as one of the association’s accreditation desiderata. Under that standard, site visitors and reviewers investigate the institution’s “commitment” to diversity, evaluating that commitment in light of the “totality of the law school’s actions and the results achieved.”
Schools are required, for example, to “create a favorable environment for students from underrepresented groups” The vagueness and open-endedness of such standards — might it contribute to a less favorable environment, for example, for a school to be short on course offerings or visiting speakers in a given identity-related area? — is sure to “invite subjective application, prompting schools to ‘over-comply’ to avoid an adverse finding.” No wonder schools cluster at the safe end by maintaining well-staffed diversity and inclusion departments, prioritizing demographic over intellectual diversity in faculty hiring, and cultivating attention to identity categories in student life. The piece kicks off what Pulliam says will be a periodic series.