Yale Law School is imploding.
What might be the single most prestigious academic institution in the United States is tearing itself apart in a manner befitting a Warsaw Pact country, with students spying on professors and on each other, politically-motivated inquisitions, and absurd demands for preferential treatment based on identity politics.
The central figures of the meltdown are two married professors, Amy Chua and Jed Rubenfeld.
On March 26, a group of students at Yale Law School approached the dean’s office with an unusual accusation: Amy Chua, one of the school’s most popular but polarizing professors, had been hosting drunken dinner parties with students, and possibly federal judges, during the pandemic.
Her husband, Jed Rubenfeld, also a law professor, is virtually persona non grata on campus, having been suspended from teaching for two years after an investigation into accusations that he had committed sexual misconduct.
At the law school, the episode has exposed bitter divisions in a top-ranked institution struggling to adapt at a moment of roiling social change. Students regularly attack their professors, and one another, for their scholarship, professional choices and perceived political views. In a place awash in rumor and anonymous accusations, almost no one would speak on the record. [NY Times]
Chua, whose classes are some of the most popular at Yale, has been stripped of the right to lead a small group (a collection of 10-15 first-year students that is a core part of the Yale Law experience). The school appears intent on driving her from the campus entirely.
The details are intricate, sordid, and almost impossible to untangle at a distance. But what’s very clear is that the attacks on Rubenfeld and Chua are not simply about their behavior. They are deeply intertwined with politics. While it’s easy to ridicule this as yet another episode in the decline of America’s elite Ivy League academies, the drama at Yale Law also reveals how much worse American meritocracy is about to become.
Professors Chua and Rubenfeld are both liberals, but they’re also, one person told Revolver, “the closest thing to a conservative presence at Yale Law.” Chua became a national celebrity in 2011 with her book Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother. In the book, Chua described her demanding parenting regimen for the couple’s two daughters.
Some of Chua’s other books, although written from a liberal perspective, have findings that contemporary nationalists might appreciate. World on Fire, published in 2003, warned that the drive to export free-market “democracy” around the world was fanning the flames of ethnic hatred. 2018’s Political Tribes pointed out that the rise of Donald Trump was fueled by the decay of America’s ruling class into smug, judgmental elitists who despised the core population of the country. Chua was also the rare liberal defender of Brett Kavanaugh during his confirmation battle — her daughter even clerked for him.