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American Bar Association Requiring All Law Schools To Push DEI, Displacing Constitutional Law

After Indiana University implemented DEI standards in its law curriculum, John Lawrence Hill took his concerns to the state legislature.

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When Indiana University implemented DEI standards in its law school curriculum, Professor John Lawrence Hill warned the state legislature about attempts by “extreme idealogues to indoctrinate students” that “fly in the face” of America’s legal foundations.

Addressed to Indiana State Sens. Jeff Raatz and John Crane, Hill’s letter challenges the university’s new mandatory “responsible lawyering” course for first-year law students, introduced to comply with the American Bar Association’s (ABA) “cross-cultural competency” requirements. Hill argues that this move politicizes legal education.

“This class is guaranteed to further polarize and politicize the law school environment and represents yet another attempt by the academic Left to provide a platform for extreme idealogues to indoctrinate students who are essentially academic hostages,” Hill wrote in his letter. “DEI is now ‘in’ at the McKinney school….”

In an interview with The Federalist, Hill, a professor at Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law (IU McKinney) says that issues with the ABA’s DEI requirements are long-standing.

A New ABA Requirement

In February 2022, the ABA introduced a new standard for legal education. Standard 303(c) reads, “A law school shall provide education to law students on bias, cross-cultural competency, and racism: (1) at the start of the program of legal education, and (2) at least once again before graduation.”

This marks the first time the ABA has mandated non-legal coursework in law school curriculum.

Hill learned of the new ABA requirement when he was serving on the law school’s academic affairs committee, which was tasked with implementing curricular reform. At the time, Hill chalked it up to an “unnecessary” addition to students’ legal education.

Once Hill departed from the committee, however, the university faculty capitalized on the new ABA instructions. Although standard 303(c) can be satisfied through orientation sessions, lectures, or “other educational experiences,” the faculty at IU McKinney opted to create a mandatory DEI course.

“[As] things developed, and I saw the way it was going … it wasn’t just unnecessary. It’s been baleful,” Hill says. “I mean, it’s really been … used as a predicate to make other changes.”

DEI at the Expense of Constitutional Law

In order to introduce new DEI coursework, the committee gave three proposals to the faculty. Two of them involved moving constitutional law to the second year, a major departure from traditional law school curriculum. Hill says this provoked a “huge faculty fight.”

“Every single one of us took constitutional law in the first year. Every single law student has taken Con Law in the first year for a century,” Hill recalls telling the faculty. “Why is it that all of a sudden our students can’t do this?”

In a memo, Hill urged the faculty to reject the abandonment of constitutional education for first-year students. Hill says he suggested a number of alternatives, including reducing the hours of one of his own classes, civil procedure. 

“People freaked out at the memo,” Hill remembers. “There was a lot of anger.”

As a professor of constitutional law himself, Hill viewed the proposals to move constitutional law as particularly egregious.

“I believe that the real reason for throwing Constitutional Law out of the first year is plainly ideological,” Hill wrote in his letter to state senators. “Our Constitution enshrines and projects the values of liberty, individuality, and equality under the law.  These values, which have served our nation for over 235 years, fly in the face of the DEI paradigm.”

In April, the faculty agreed to keep constitutional law in the first-year curriculum while still incorporating the “responsible lawyering” course. The new curriculum will take effect this fall.

“The law school has not considered or approved a 1-hour Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) course,” a spokeswoman for IU McKinney said in a statement to The Federalist. “A new 1L course, Responsible Lawyering, will include professional identity formation, consistent with ABA Standard 303, among other professionalism topics.”

However, “responsible lawyering” was added in direct response to the ABA’s DEI agenda. According to the ABA, this type of coursework will “reinforce the skill of cultural competency and their obligation as future lawyers to work to eliminate racism in the legal profession.” Hill describes this curriculum as a sign of more leftist change down the road.

“In law, sometimes a case is called a signal. It may be more modest in terms of what it actually rules, but it signals a change … a new way of doing things. The ABA requirement was cover, and it was a signal that … law schools can make changes, including pretty dramatic changes,” Hill says. “Many people in our faculty said this is a cover. The ABA has given us cover. That term was used specifically by other faculty members.”

According to Hill, these changes run deeper than some may think. 

“What ties all this together is that there is an ideological agenda. Some people understand that consciously. They embrace it. They pursue it. A lot of other people just sort of go along, understanding the current. You know, people can sense when political currents are changing or where they’re moving, and so they sort of move with it, without really sharing the goal as such. But I think that this was something that came down from on high [that is] ideological, deeply ideological.”

In an interview with The Federalist, Raatz confirmed he is investigating the matter personally. 

“We can all be sensitive to one another, but to mandate diversity, equity, inclusion … what does that really mean?” Raatz, a recipient of Hill’s letter, told The Federalist. “To just be frank about it, I’m not a proponent of DEI, honestly, and I’m going to determine just what their parameters are, and we’ll go from there.”

Fighting a DEI Agenda

Hill sent his letter to Raatz and Crane on Saturday afternoon. The senators are members of the Indiana Senate Education and Career Development Committee, and Hill hopes making them aware of the situation could lead to action. 

“I have taught at McKinney for 21 years. I love this school and I love our students,” Hill wrote. “I hope that there might be something that you and your colleagues in the Indiana House and Senate might be able to do to respond to these developments.”

In the meantime, his concern is primarily for the quality of education at IU McKinney. 

“When I started teaching, I was middle of the road. I wasn’t, you know, a wild-eyed progressive, but I wasn’t a libertarian or a conservative, either. I tried to kind of find the middle way, but I started to see the extent to which our textbooks, the way people teach classes, who gets tenure, who’s elevated — I mean, there’s so much of politics in it.”

Today, Hill says he still has hope for the law school — and for Americans.

“The most important thing is that you get everything accurate,” Hill told The Federalist. “I think once people know, it makes it harder for the powers that be to continue to advance these causes. I mean, everyone is aware of what’s going on. People are smart. Americans are smart. Once they’re aware of what’s going on, how it’s going on, it removes the cover for people who are trying to essentially push these values, these courses.”


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