Balkinization  

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Larry Tribe on "The Death of Doctrinalism"

Guest Blogger

Larry Tribe

I have great respect for the intellect and integrity of my friend and colleague Einer Elhauge, but his recent post on the "death of doctrinalism" leaves me perplexed. His exemption of constitutional law from his announcement of doctrinalism's supposed death may help explain why we see the world differently, but he bafflingly goes on to dismiss the field — despite its real world importance, the high regard in which it is held in law school and university settings, and its locus of much substantive intellectual accomplishment — as "the least intellectually respected [legal subject] among law professors." Moreover, his description of "doctrinalism" is so narrow that it definitionally excludes most of the best doctrinal work I've encountered in the past several decades. (Curiously, the list of his dazzling dozen omits many scholars who are the most cited and most highly regarded — and many who, unlike all the members of his exemplary group, are not white men.) In the end, I'm inclined to conclude that Professor Elhauge's insights don't explain recent hiring patterns, at Harvard or elsewhere, and certainly nothing he says should discourage those with enough of what Einer describes as "raw talent and creativity" from pursuing their intellectual interests in law and legal thought wherever those interests lead them.

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