Alabama Judge Boycotting Yale Clerks

Judge won’t use clerks from Yale (Birmingham News)

An Alabama federal judge has told Yale Law School he won’t accept its graduates for clerkships because the school blocks military recruiters from campus. Senior U.S. District Judge William Acker Jr., a Yale graduate, explained his decision in a Monday letter to the law school’s Dean Harold Koh.

Acker wrote that he was exercising the same freedom of speech that U.S. District Judge Janet C. Hall supported when she ruled Jan. 31. She backed the faculty’s claim that their rights to free speech were violated by enforcement of the Solomon amendment, which requires schools to provide access to military recruiters or lose federal funding, including student loans.

In response, Acker said Yale Law School students need not apply. “Some of my very best law clerks have been from the law school from which I proudly graduated,” Acker said. “I therefore recognize that this publicly announced decision will hurt me more than the allowing of military recruiters would hurt YLS.”

While I agree with Eugene Volokh that making students suffer for the actions of the school’s administration is problematic, Acker’s options are somewhat limited. Presumably, he’s already withholding whatever donations he would otherwise have been making. Further, one could argue that the students are somewhat complicit in the policy since, one suspects, it would be overturned if enough students raised a fuss.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Maggie says:

    Next thing you know he will be posting the Ten Commandments in the Courthouse…now this is my kinda judge!

  2. Just Me says:

    A creative way to make his opinion known.

  3. Jack Tanner says:

    Good for him. I had some problems with my alma mater’s policies and told them not to solicit me for a donation ever. I haven’t heard from them.

  4. kappiy says:

    “Some of my very best law clerks have been from the law school from which I proudly graduated,” Acker said. “I therefore recognize that this publicly announced decision will hurt me more than the allowing of military recruiters would hurt YLS.”

    Won’t Acker’s stupid actions also hurt the public leagal system? This strikes me as an extremely petty and shortsighted position and a disservice to jurisprudence. Because law clerks play such an essential role in providing reserach and writing skills for judges, it’s clear that Acker’s insertion of his irrational prejudices is extremely selfish.

    Of course Acker’s selfishness is nothing new: remember Jefferson County v. Acker? He tied up the court system with a spurious case claiming that because he was a federal employee he didn’t have to pay a tax on his income. The Renquist court soundly rejected his argument, 7-2.

    If he has a problem with Yale, he should take Jack Tanner’s suggestion and not give personal contributions–to deprive the legal system of talented candidates violates his duty as a public servant.

  5. Mikey says:

    No, it won’t hurt the public legal system. There are many fine law schools and there are many more highly qualified applicants for federal clerkships than there are positions. It may be a petty move, or not – depending on your opinion. However, the public legal system won’t suffer as a result.

  6. How is his policy any different from Yale’s? Isn’t that the point he is making?

  7. Justicefuhrer says:

    Most colleges and universities have rules about allowing recruiters of any kind on their campus if they discriminate on the basis of race, age, religion or sexual orientation. Since the military excludes homosexuals–which is bigotry as far as I’m concerned–it would be considered a prohibited group. Enter The Solomon Act which told the entities they better allow military recruiters on campus or have federal aid witheld. Nothing like government extortion to impose prejudice on someone. Now Yale was courageous enough to say, no, discrimination is wrong, period! So now this Alabaman ‘good ole boy’ judge is gonna punish not the university, but its students. Why is this not surprising coming from one of the most backwards states inthe Union, that only recently officially abolished it laws against interracial marriage….and NOT without protest, I might add! Thank God I live nowhere near that intellectual cesspool of a state!

  8. Jonas Fakker says:

    With law administrators like Judge Acker, who needs southern bigots?

  9. John Whitaker says:

    To Justicefuhrer. As a former Alabamian, I take offense at your blanket attack. What is bigotry if not attaching your personal prejudice to an entire societal group based on an immutable characteristic. I am from Alabama, and I always will be from Alabama. And you believe it’s fair to criticize everyone from Alabama based on nothing but your apparent ignorance of the state and a few headlines you read in Liberal News Today. That attitude is very fitting given the Nazi symbolism of your anonymous alias.
    Enter the Yalies. If I can believe my ears, students at Yale are actually upset that their law school will be considered in a judge’s hiring decision. If that’s not the pot calling the kettle black, I don’t know what is. Liberals are nothing if not hypocrites.

  10. Derrick Iantosca says:

    To John Whitaker:

    You said:

    “What is bigotry if not attaching your personal prejudice to an entire societal group based on an immutable characteristic.”

    Then you said:

    “Liberals are nothing if not hypocrites.”

    Aside from just making yourself look like a hypocrtical ass as well, what is it with fools like you and this obsession with “Liberal this” and “liberal that?” Have you ever had a thought that wasn’t put in that concrete melon you call a head by blow-bags like Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity? I consider myself a liberal and I don’t listen to Michael Moore or Al Franken…on the other side of the coin, I see Fox News as the propaganada device it is. I consider myself a liberal because of what the word itself means and not what delusional blowhards like you have tried to define it as:

    “Web definitions for liberal
    a person who favors a political philosophy of progress and reform and the protection of civil liberties”

    Jesus was the first and greatest liberal of them all and He would be more sympathetic to a university that stands up to protect all members of its society, rather than individuals that bully and threaten others to hate the same people and discriminate against them.

    As far as Alabama goes, pal, I lived there for a short time and I was utterly appalled by the amount of racism, ignorance and hypocrisy I’ve seen…and I too remember when Alabama finally repealed its laws against interracial marriage, and I remember as clear as day many a redneck complaining about on the street. I especially remember one toothless, inbred skank who had the audacity to look into a news camera and say, “this is an attack on our Southern culture and it ain’t right. Those laws should stay on the book because that’s the way God wanted it.”

    So, all your self-righteous indignation aside, Justicefubar, or whatever his/her name is was right on the dollar on the assessment of Alabama and those who hail from it…the closest thing to pure spun trash as you can genetically get! I lived it, I saw it and I’ll be damned if I’d sit by while cowpies like you tried to paint this picture of Alabmans as this nice, genteel, cultured folk…there are a few, but your bigorty and small mindedness pervades ALL levels of your state, leading one to believe if it’s not genetic, it’s definitely something in the water!

    Good day!

  11. John Whitaker says:

    Moron. Find a dictionary in that trailor you live in and look up the word immutable. Liberalism is a state of mind. People change their minds all the time, you can never change where you’re from.
    And thank you very kindly for proving my point. Only a true bigot and hypocrite (syn for liberal) can throw around as many baseless insults as you just did, all the while accusing Alabamians of being pure spun trash. You sir should take a long hard look in the mirror before you ever again call someone a redneck. Then shoot yourself.