03 Jun 2010

Kagan’s Legal Curriculum Reform

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As Dean of Harvard Law School, Elena Kagan not only moved Harvard away from teaching the case method (invented at Harvard circa 1870), she eliminated Constitutional Law from the list of required courses.

As CNS reports, American Constitutional Law was demoted in favor of more international perspectives.

[I]n a 2006 Harvard news release explaining the changes, Kagan explained the move away from constitutional law was deliberate: “From the beginning of law school, students should learn to locate what they are learning about public and private law in the United States within the context of a larger universe — global networks of economic regulation and private ordering, public systems created through multilateral relations among states, and different and widely varying legal cultures and systems.

“Accordingly, the Law School will develop three foundation courses, each of which represents a door into the global sphere that students will use as context for U.S. law,” the guide said.

Among the three new required courses Kagan introduced, one focuses on public international law, involving treaties and international agreements, and the second is on international economic law and complex multinational financial transactions, according to a Harvard news release.

But the third course, on comparative law, “will introduce students to one or more legal systems outside our own, to the borrowing and transmission of legal ideas across borders and to a variety of approaches to substantive and procedural law that are rooted in distinct cultures and traditions,” the release said.

What could be a more eloquent demonstration of the precise level of deference to the US Constitution Ms. Kagan would bring to the Supreme Court?


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