Influencing Public Policy, Law Schools Become ‘Schools for Misrule’

Walter Olson of the Cato Institute and founder of the original law blog,, has a new book out, “Schools for Misrule: Legal Academia and an Overlawyered America.” The blurb:

From Barack Obama (Harvard and Chicago) to Bill and Hillary Clinton (Yale), many of our current national leaders emerged from the rarefied air of the nation’s top law schools. The ideas taught there in one generation often shape national policy in the next.

The trouble is, Walter Olson reveals in Schools for Misrule, our elite law schools keep churning out ideas that are catastrophically bad for America. From class action lawsuits that promote the right to sue anyone over anything, to court orders mandating the mass release of prison inmates; from the movement for slavery reparations, to court takeovers of school funding—all of these appalling ideas were hatched in legal academia. And the worst is yet to come. A fast-rising movement in law schools demands that sovereignty over U.S. legal disputes be handed over to international law and transnational courts.

It is not by coincidence, Olson argues, that these bad ideas all tend to confer more power on the law schools’ own graduates. In the overlawyered society that results, they are the ones who become the real rulers.

The Manhattan Institute’s Minding the Campus website excerpts the book here.

Before he embarks on his speaking tour around the country, Walter appears this Thursday, March 3, at the Cato Institute in Washington, for a forum on his book.

Roger Pilon, who directs Cato’s program of legal studies, will be the moderator, and commenting on my remarks will be one of the most distinguished federal judges, the Hon. Douglas Ginsburg of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. The event is free, but you do need to register in advance here, where you’ll find more details. There’ll be a reception afterward and a chance to buy the book. Please introduce yourself and mention that you’re an Overlawyered reader!

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