Given the dominance of conservative groups at schools, I was somewhat worried about a group that claimed to be starting a Conservative Law Journal at UNC Law School. Boy was I worried over nothing!
First some background. UNC Law, much like other Law Schools, has a number of accredited academic journals. These journals publish a combination of professional and student pieces on discrete points of law. The journals range in breadth of the subjects they cover from the Law Review, which covers any issue, to issue specific journals such as the First Amendment Law Review. Substantively these articles are very intense studies on discreet, timely legal issues. The pieces are heavily edited, heavily footnoted, and well respected. In fact, these journals serve as the main method of communication between law professors, are well circulated, and do a great deal to advance the law in many areas.
Being a member of a journal is a prestigious position at any law school. (Law Review is the top prize, but any journal experience is respected by employers and colleagues). To be selected to be on a journal at Carolina, students have to participate in a joint journal competition. The competition requires students to write an article on a selected subject. Then the students are assigned to the various journals based on their writing ability, grades, and interests (with Law Review being the most prestigious, almost everyone that qualifies for that will accept). With five journals at UNC Law each taking between twenty and forty staff members, there are more than 120 positions for a class of around 240. Not even taking into account the fact that not everyone applies, the top half of the class is going to be given a spot on a reputable journal. Apparently, Joshua James Otto was not able to find one of these spots.
Apparently outraged at the liberal bias against him (there is no possibility of liberal bias in selection since placement is based on a combination of grades and points given to student's submissions in the competition, which are blindly graded), Joshua started his own "journal", the Right Flank. Given that most of these wingers at the law school are members of the well funded Federalist Society, I thought that they actually might be putting something serious out. Turns out I was way wrong. The "journal" managed to get six members together to put out their first issue including one staff member of the Law Review, Ben Pickett, and two staff members of other real journals.
Their first issue was released this week (in web form only here) but contained nothing like a law journal article or anything like coherent thought or research. The article by the only Law Review member is the best example, but the other four by other members are even more ridiculous.
Ben Pickett's seven paragraph rant contains no footnotes (or even the links used in blogs) and no facts at all. He starts out:
So what’s all the liberal fuss about President Bush giving the National Security Agency specific authority to “listen in” on suspected terrorist calls coming in from outside of the United States?
What gives? The whole article turns into how liberals hate America for not allowing the eavesdropping and just want to make Bush look bad, but the article does not even discuss FISA once. The clear point that you missed, Ben, is that Bush is violating federal law and the constitution. Maybe if you had an answer to either of those questions, your "article" would be worthwhile. But with only baseless accusations, such as:
What I think the left needs to get through their heads is that this power that was given to the NSA by President Bush is the same power that a liberal President will be able to use when he or she is elected in the future.
I think what Ben needs to get through his head is that the Constitution and federal law applies to presidents of all parties. See Watergate.
Also, Ben contradicts himself:
It is unreasonable to allow wiretapping on American citizens by the NSA, at least without a search warrant. But it’s not “unreasonable” to listen in when a person calls a suspected terrorist line abroad.
I think that the problem is that the administration is listening to citizens of the United States, so you admit that that should be barred; we agree. And to close:
Have you forgotten that we are at War with EVIL? I haven’t, and neither should you.
I started writing this to say what a piss poor job these people are doing and how they are hurting the UNC brand, but now I am just sad. Sad that these are UNC Law students, sad that Ben gets to put Law Review on his resume (since he obviously did not learn the research skills that it intends to use), and sad for Ben that this is the drivel that future employers would find attached to his name. And also sad that these individuals will probably have plush jobs at the Pope Center long after Law Firms realize they have no clue what the law is.