Health Care Question - Scalia a likely 5th vote in favor?

Howard Schweber schweber at
Tue Mar 23 05:55:08 PDT 2010

Eric writes:

I sincerely wonder which side of the coin (values or doctrine) we should 
be emphasizing with our students and our scholarship (accepting students 
must learn doctrine for bar exam and talking the talk purposes).  I 
promise not to mention this "values" things again (at least for  while).

This comes up quite often, of course.  So I'll toss in two cents.

It all depends on what we conceive to be our mission as teachers.  If 
our mission is to make students better prognosticators of individual 
justices' likely decisions, then the attitudinal model is undoubtedly 
useful.  If our mission is to teach our students the conceptual language 
that is used in this country to debate constitutional questions in 
courts, then the doctrine is not quite so epiphenomenal as all that, 
particularly if we teach it with a critical eye (as I am sure we all do, 
although I am equally sure that we critique the reasoning from varied 
perspectives).  And if we think that some part of our mission is to try 
to educate our students to be good constitutional citizens -- that is, 
if there is an element of civic aspiration involved in educating 
citizens about their constitution and the work of institutions that 
employ it -- then we might worry that teaching a focus on judges' 
"values" in the sense that Eric uses the term breeds a cheap and easy 
cynicism.  We might even worry about what attitudes such teaching breeds 
among our nation's lawyers.

Howard Schweber
Dept. of Poli Sci

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