In “The moral vanity of the disassociated left,” I discussed the stink raised by nine University of Minnesota Law School professors in connection with the invitation to University of St. Thomas Law School Professor Robert Delahunty to teach constitutional law at the University of Minnesota Law School this semester. The nine professors more or less indicted Professor Delahunty as a war criminal unfit to teach for having co-authored with John Yoo the January 9, 2002 memorandum on the law applicable to al Qaeda and Taliban detainees captured in Afghanistan.
Professor Delahunty has now undertaken his teaching duties at the law school without incident, as reported in today’s University of Minnesota Daily. I note from the Daily story that the student whom I admired most in my oldest daughter’s high school class is in Professor Delahunty’s constitutional law class:
Noreen Johnson, a first-year law student who has been attending a Delahunty-run Bible study for area law students since September, said she continues to stand by the deans’ decision to hire Delahunty and is impressed with his in-class conduct.
“He runs (class) very professionally, and I haven’t seen anything that suggests there are any problems between him and his students,” she said.
Following the announcement of Delahunty’s hire, the law building’s hallways served as stages for debate, but Johnson said the division between students largely seemed to wane.
“I think everyone knew we had to put this behind us and I think we’ve successfully done so,” she said. “Law school is inherently a competitive place, but we have a real sense of camaraderie and cohesion you wouldn’t necessarily find in other law schools.”
For now…Delahunty’s students are taking class one day at a time, with some seeing potential benefits of the tumult that shrouded their instructor.
“I have respect for those on both sides,” said Johnson. “Everyone’s been very professional and we’ll have richer political debate and richer intellectual discussion as a result of this.”
Noreen is substantially more mature than the nine professors. Yesterday at the law school the Federalist Society sponsored a discussion of the Yoo-Delahunty draft memorandum. Each of the nine professors was invited to debate star University of Minnesota constitutional law Professor Michael Stokes Paulsen on the legal merits of the memorandum. The approach of the nine professors was a bit like Robert Benchley’s when asked by someone at Averill Harriman’s house to to say something funny. Benchley wrote: “Drawing on my fine command of the English language,…I said nothing.” None of the nine professors was willing to appear to debate Professor Paulsen on the merits of the Yoo-Delahunty draft memorandum, which Professor Paulsen, in his brilliant talk, described as the most sophisticated analysis extant of the issues it addresses and completely correct in its conclusions.
As a result of the moral and intellectual cowardice of the niggardly nine, the University of Minnesota Law school students who almost filled Room 25 to capacity for yesterday’s Federalist Society event were deprived of the kind of debate and discussion that Noreen Johnson rightly seeks in her law school education. Compensating for the lack of debate was the fact that we had the privilege of hearing Professor Paulsen speak twice as long as we otherwise would have. He is a gifted teacher, he knows what he’s talking about and he would have humiliated any one of the niggardly nine who might have joined him to debate the issues.
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