Let’s get this straight from the get-go: The Mason Spirit is neither Democratic nor Republican, liberal nor conservative, or donkey nor elephant. Switzerland wishes it was as neutral as we are. Our sole position is for a happy, healthy, and successful Mason community. Our mascot? Need we say, but The Patriot, of course.
According to one guide, though, at least one Mason entity can’t claim such political impartiality. Mason’s School of Law placed at the top of the latest Princeton Review law school rankings for having the most conservative student body, ahead of Regent University, BYU, Ave Maria School of Law, and Samford University, respectively. (D.C.’s American University law school was the most liberal, according to the guide.) The rankings were based “on a student assessment of the political bent of the student body at large.”
So what’s the big deal? Probably nothing, but it is political season, and these things tend to grab people’s attention, as was the case with Mason law professor David Bernstein.
Writing for The Volokh Conspiracy blog, Bernstein put the school’s conservative tag to the test with his Constitution Law I students. Asking the students to rate their political views on a 1-10 scale, with 1 being a “Green” liberal and 9 being a far-right “Libertarian” (10 was “other”), the anonymous results were split right down the middle. Half fell into the more liberal camp while the other half leaned conservative.
So why the top billing for conservative leanings? Bernstein gave two possible explanations. One: In terms of political viewpoints, the school doesn’t compare to its more liberal surroundings of Arlington, thus giving some students an inflated sense that it must lean conservative. Two: The students who seek out Mason because it has a reputation of not being “overwhelmingly left-wing” are the ones who tend to speak up the most in class.
This being Decision 2010, what do you think, alumni turned attorneys? Is Mason’s School of Law as blue as Ruth Ginsburg’s eyes or as red as Antonin Scalia’s sports car (we have no idea if either is true!)? Or, is it somewhere in between, say as purple as Elena Kagan’s socks (again, no idea)?
What say ye?