The University of Chicago and Antonin Scalia

AwkwardGuyWithScalia

Conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia used to teach law at the University of Chicago. And then they had a falling out because the school had become liberal. In 2009 he told a group in Chicago that:

I don’t think the University of Chicago is what it was in my time. I would not recommend it to students looking for a law school as I would have years ago. It has changed considerably and intentionally. It has lost the niche it once had as a rigorous and conservative law school.

He’s over it. According to an article by Abdon Pallasch in the Chicago Sun-Times:

Scalia was all verbal hugs and kisses Monday, telling an auditorium full of students, “I’m glad to be back here. A whole lot of what I am intellectually is attributable to this place. The University of Chicago is one of two or three of the most formidable intellectual institutions in the world; a really impressive place. And you’re lucky to be here.”

It’s unclear if Scalia believes he was mistaken about the U of C back in 2009 or if he’s merely giving a more nuanced opinion. Perhaps it’s possible for the school to be one of the “most formidable intellectual institutions in the world” even if it doesn’t occupy the “niche it once had as a rigorous and conservative law school.”

He is right, though, it doesn’t occupy that position anymore.

According to a 1987 piece by Steven Greenhouse in the New York Times, it was the departure of conservative intellectuals like Scalia from the law school faculty for appeals court positions that helped make the institution more liberal.

The school was for many years a leading incubator of conservative thought, but with the election of Ronald Reagan, many of the school’s conservative scholars left when they were rewarded with government positions. [Image via]

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer