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Scalia Routinely Flunked Black Law Students, Displayed Preferential Treatment to Conservatives, University of Chicago Alumni Say

scaliaWhen Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died, many Black people were not sad he passed. His attacks on the Voting Rights Act and disparaging comments about Black students’ academic performance were evidence of his contempt.

But according to Gawker, there is documented evidence of Scalia’s racism as far back as his days as a law professor. Gawker tracked down Black lawyers who took Scalia’s classes at the University of Chicago Law School, and they said even back then they saw evidence of his racism. They claimed Black students in Scalia’s classes received poor grades, but students who were members of the all-white Federalist Society received good grades.

Arnim Johnson took Scalia’s law class at the University of Chicago and was shocked to receive an F. He said receiving a failing grade is largely unheard of at an elite law school.

“While I was there, Scalia was outed as a blatant racist to the extent that the Black American Law Students Association (BALSA) chapter at the law school brought it to the attention of acting Dean Norval Morris in several meetings,” said Johnson in a Facebook post. “Scalia flunked every black student who took his classes that year. Nobody flunks courses in elite law schools. It’s unheard of. He flunked one brother so badly, it skewered his grade average, and he became the first, last, and only student in the history of the school to repeat first year. That man went on to become a respected [sic] military judge.”

Johnson also said Scalia was accused of the same thing at the University of Virginia, although the allegations were difficult to prove. Johnson added that he thought Scalia, who he described as a “a swarthy, son of poor Sicilian immigrants,” was trying to become an “honorary WASP,” by distancing himself from Black people.

However, Johnson later admitted he was mistaken about some of the events that happened 40 years ago. One of the people who he said failed the class, actually passed.

Gawker talked to another former Scalia student. Benn Streeter, who is now an attorney with the Federal Election Commission, said he noticed Scalia giving preferential treatment to the conservative students, who were all white at the time.

“The final exam in the admin law class was the only exam I’d taken at U of C that had a section of short-answer questions … What immediately struck me was that [the] answers were something that had never been covered in class, but it struck me that this was the kind of thing that he would talk to students about if students came by to visit him,” said Streeter.

Phillip Hampton, now senior counsel at Haynes and Boone in Washington, D.C., said he noticed all the Black students in Scalia’s got poor grades.

“It seemed very strange that almost every Black student’s lowest grade was in Scalia’s class,” said Hampton in a phone interview with Gawker. “I don’t think any Black person got more than a C- from Scalia…Black students received D’s and C’s, [and Scalia] failed Arnim [Johnson] along with another Black, very high-achieving student.”

It is clear from Scalia’s comments later in life that he didn’t think much of Black students’ academic prowess. In oral arguments last year, Scalia said affirmative action didn’t help Black students, who would be better off going to “a slower-track school where they do well.”

Scalia’s argument is erroneous for several reasons. Firstly, the Black students he flunked or gave bad grades, evidently must have been smart because they have all gone on to have stellar legal careers. Secondly, many white students get into elite schools, not based on their grade, but because they are legacies who get automatic admission because of their family connections. George W. Bush got into both Yale and Harvard, although he admitted he was an average student. However, his father and grandfather both attended Yale. According to The Huffington Post, a wing of the Yale library is named after Prescott Bush.

And thirdly, many of the students who attend so-called “slower track” schools go there not because they want to, but because that’s all they can afford. Some students don’t want to go elite schools because they don’t want to saddled with a lifetime of debt.

Although the Black students complained about unfair treatment, the university said grading was done on a “blind” basis. But Hampton says Scalia, who said he was a linguist, claimed he could tell Black students by their writing style.

The University of Chicago has issued a blanket denial of Scalia’s alleged unfair grading.

“Because of the length of time that has passed, and the fact that some of the individuals are either deceased or no longer work at the Law School, we are unable to comment on whether the allegations are true,” said a university spokesperson. “ … We would take extremely seriously any such allegation today, and our long-standing policy of blind-grading is intended to minimize the possibility of that kind of misconduct.”

What people are saying

14 thoughts on “Scalia Routinely Flunked Black Law Students, Displayed Preferential Treatment to Conservatives, University of Chicago Alumni Say

  1. Mike Bloxham says:

    " Scalia said affirmative action didn’t help Black students, who would be better off going to “a slower-track school where they do well.” "

    no, he didn't say that. if you can't tell whne someone is quoting, don't study law.

  2. Louis Byron says:

    I would hardly call Arnim Johnson's legal career stellar. He has been suspended by the Illinois Bar at least twice for misconduct (2004 & 2011) (In Re: Arnim Johnson, Jr. 211 I'll.2nd 633 2004) (isba.org). Oh yea, I forgot, it's a conspiracy against the Black Man. He was targeted by the same White Devils like Scalia who sit on the Illinois State Bar. Forgive me.

  3. Gary Garner says:

    All of the best education at the finest schools, will never replace what's really in your heart.

  4. Louis Byron says:

    You guys are so gullible. Scalia was an arch-conservative. I did not know the man, and therefore I can't speak directly as to whether he was a racist. However, almost all law schools in the U.S. for the last 40 years including the Univ. of Chicago have used what is called "blind" grading. The professor has no idea which exam book belongs to which student. All students are assigned an anonymous number by the registrar and grades are posted by number and not name. I know what is coming next. A conspiracy between Scalia and the registrar 🙁 Where will it end? I respectfully submit that if Black folks spent as much time obsessing over their own educational achievement (and especially that of their children) as they do obsessing over White people's sometimes admittedly real (but often times imagined) mistreatment of them, they would be in a very different position today. God Bless.

  5. Thank you for pointing out my perception of reality, my place and misuse of energy. You have carried on the great condescending legacy of your forefathers. Salute Jim Crow master…

  6. Vincent Ames says:

    I not so respectfully submit that it was White people's obsession over the affairs of Black people that necessitates Black people's contant villigance. You can ingnore history, but an increasing number of Black people are not obsessing over you but fully aware of your past, present and intended misdeeds. We will raise our children with the knowledge of who you people are and act accordingly.

  7. Barbara McCullough Of course, these butchers in training shoot up schools and nuke entire countries. Thinks black people have never even thought about doing.

  8. If you are so blinded enough to believe the professor's don't have access to which numbers students were assigned you really are living in a fantasy world…

  9. Typical view from some white people,Then thy like to throw your children in the mix, just like theirs are drug free, crime free, and all straight A students.

  10. Louis Byron – Always trying to fucking duck and dogde evidence when its right there in front of you becasue it makes you "feel uncomfortable." You come from a race of rapists, control freaks, butchers and thieves. And like all you guilty whites, you will do whatever you can to rerwite your own fucking history. We will not tolerate this for too much longer. That day will come when we rise up and make the Rodney King riots look like Carnival. You may be reading this, eating and laughing today, but you shall starve tomorrow.

  11. So millions of black people suddenly all agreed to simultaneously 'imagine' mistreatment at the hands of your evil kind? You are basically implying that we are telepathic. If that's true, then we should be running the joint.

  12. Jim McBride says:

    he DID say that it is on record

  13. Jim McBride says:

    how did this simplistic moron get appointed to the Supreme court?
    Reagan did not want a great mind or a deep thinker. He wanted to pack the court with conservatives. Scalia was never known for the complexity of his judicial thinking or his brilliant mind. His way of thinking was very simple…..like my 84 year old dad he was stuck in 1950

  14. Chuck Finley says:

    So, because it does not happen to a white person this must not be true? Another complete form of supremecy. Since they say it, it must be their imagination. I have friend that though the same thing and proved it. He wrote a paper and received a D. Unbeknowsnt to the same instructor, he wrote a paper for a white guy that played baseball (he had no time to do the paper) and he received a B. Both by the same person. A disparity if you ask me or am I obsessing.

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