Oberlin’s $44 Million Judgment Shows The Cost Of The Trend From Academics To Activism In Higher Education

Below is my column on the record defamation verdict against Oberlin College and its implications for higher education. Obviously, I am quite critical of the actions of the college. What is the most striking aspect of this story is how completely unapologetic the college remains. There is little evidence of objective reevaluation of its actions such as the alleged demand that this bakery give first-time shoplifters from Oberlin a pass. There are three thousand students at Oberlin. There would be little left on the shelves if the word got out of a one-time pass where students could use their free shoplifting trip at Gibson’s.

In the meantime, alumni will be asked to support a college that may have burned tens of millions of dollars in just one incident. How many scholarships could have been granted for $33-$44 million? The annual tuition is $55,000. That is over 750 students who could have received free scholarships. Instead, over a stolen bottle of wine, the college has dug itself into a massive hole . . . and it is still digging.

Here is the column:

For many who lament the shift from academics to activism across college campuses in the United States, Oberlin College in Ohio is the equivalent of the “China syndrome” during nuclear accidents, a point where chain reactions become impossible to stop or control. Oberlin students often find new issues to protest, even on one of the most liberal campuses in the world, like objections to serving sushi as cultural appropriation. As on other campuses across the country, these protests are encouraged by an array of faculty members and ever accommodating administrators.

This week, however, the bill came due for Oberlin when a jury awarded over $11 million in damages to a family bakery for being defamed as racist by its college students and officials. That motion was later followed by a whopping $33 million punitive award. It is only the latest example of how faculty members and officials are driving their institutions toward financial and intellectual bankruptcy, thanks to their advocacy or acquiescence.

The latest controversy began with a shoplifting case. In 2016, an African American student named Jonathan Aladin was caught trying to steal a bottle of wine from Gibson’s Bakery, which was established in 1885 and has been closely tied to the college for over a century. When the grandson of the owner tried to stop Aladin, a fight ensued and police were called. Aladin and two other students, Cecilia Whettstone and Endia Lawrence, were arrested. Students, professors, and administrators held protests, charging that the bakery was racist and profiled the three students.

Oberlin maintains in court filings that the son and grandson of the owners of Gibson’s Bakery “violently and unreasonably attacked” an unarmed student, but that is not how the police viewed it. Aladin was charged with robbery, which is a second degree felony, and Whettstone and Lawrence were charged with first degree misdemeanor assault. Police rejected claims of a racial motive and noted that, over a period of five years, 40 adults were arrested for shoplifting at Gibson’s Bakery, but only six were African American. It also is not how the court viewed it. When prosecutors cut a plea deal to reduce the charge to attempted theft, a local judge refused. He said the plea deal appeared to be the result of a permanent “economic sanction” by the college in which the victim had little choice but to relent. Ultimately, all three students pleaded guilty.

The merits of the case did not seem to bother Oberlin officials or student protesters. Dean of students Meredith Raimondo reportedly joined the massive protests and even handed out a flier denouncing the bakery as a racist business. When some people contacted Oberlin to object that the students admitted guilt, special assistant to the president for community and government relations Tita Reed wrote that it did not change a “damn thing” for her. Reed also reportedly participated in the campus protests.

Other faculty members encouraged students who denounced the bakery. The chairman of Africana studies posted, “Very proud of our students!” Oberlin barred purchases from the bakery, pending its investigation into whether this was “a pattern and not an isolated incident.” Raimondo also pressured Bon Appetit, a major contractor with the college, to cease business with the bakery. Reed even suggested that “once charges are dropped, orders will resume” and added that she was “baffled by their combined audacity and arrogance to assume the position of victim.”

It would be a statement that came back to haunt the college, in seeking to avoid punitive damages by arguing that the financial loss was too great for a small school, a sentiment that escaped these officials in hammering a small bakery. Owner David Gibson had discussed the ruinous impact of the boycott with college president Marvin Krislov and Raimondo received little sympathy. He said the two officials demanded that the bakery not call police when students shoplifted for the first time. Gibson objected that his bakery loses a large amount of money to shoplifting and that the college was demanding the equivalent of a first time “shoplifter pass.”

Not all Oberlin faculty members were silent in opposition to the boycott and protests. Theater professor Roger Copeland spoke publicly against the treatment of the bakery, but a livid vice president for communications Ben Jones responded to colleagues in a text message with an expletive against Copeland. Raimondo replied saying she would “unleash the students” if she was not convinced “this needs to be put behind us.”

The Oberlin case creates a troubling precedent for other institutions in higher education. Students certainly have the right to protest, and their views of a business can be a matter of opinion. However, if colleges are subject to damages for protests, they could resume efforts to curtail free speech. But this case turned on the actions of key officials who were viewed by the jury as encouraging, if not leading, the attacks. The college will appeal and, at a minimum, the $33 million award will be reduced to a $22 million limit under state law. While this may have amounted to record punitive damages against a college for defamation, it is not that unique.

Across the country, academics have caused lasting damage to their institutions by failing to stand up to, or actively supporting, extreme demands for speech codes, limits on academic freedom, and tenure changes. In Washington, Evergreen State College faculty members supported students who mobbed biology professor Bret Weinstein in a disturbing confrontation outside his office. The result was a significant $500,000 settlement with Weinstein and a major decline in applications. The University of Missouri experienced a similar meltdown on campus after assistant professor Melissa Click led attacks on a student journalist during heated protests in 2015. The university sought to accommodate protesters as applications plummeted and entire dorms were closed.

Other colleges have been hit with damages from students denied basic due process rights after being accused of sexual assault or harassment. While such rulings are mounting across the country, officials continue to ignore them and refuse to allow minimal rights for accused students. An even greater cost of acquiescence can be seen in reduced academic quality. Students increasingly demand changes based solely on the race or gender of authors, like Yale University students objecting that a course on English classics only included white authors like William Shakespeare.

We are reaching a critical point in higher education in the United States where leaders are ceding control to a small group of activist students and faculty members. Too often, those challenges are met not with acts of conscience but with cowardice. Professors fear being labeled as either insensitive or racist for objecting to protests or changes on campus.

Meanwhile, the costs mount with no reflection from administrators. Even with $44 million in total damages, Raimondo remains dean of students, and the college remains unapologetic. Oberlin was founded in 1833 on the belief that it is “peculiar in that which is good.” What happened at Gibson’s Bakery was neither good for Oberlin nor for higher education.

Jonathan Turley is the Shapiro Professor of Public Interest Law at George Washington University. You can follow him on Twitter @JonathanTurley.

54 thoughts on “Oberlin’s $44 Million Judgment Shows The Cost Of The Trend From Academics To Activism In Higher Education”

  1. “Meanwhile, the costs mount with no reflection from administrators. Even with $44 million in total damages, Raimondo remains dean of students, and the college remains unapologetic. Oberlin was founded in 1833 on the belief that it is “peculiar in that which is good.” What happened at Gibson’s Bakery was neither good for Oberlin nor for higher education.

    Nor was it good for the country, when a once widely-respected liberal-arts college not only teaches disrespect for others, but demands that members of the surrounding community submit to theft by their students without calling the police, and orchestrates a bogus protest and boycott campaign based on lies.

    Oberlin College, whatever it professes to teach, has shown they are corporate thugs, “unleashing their students” against small family-owned businesses who dare defend themselves against shoplifting and physical assault.

    I think state and Federal authorities ought to investigate Oberlin College as a Racketeer-Influenced Corrupt Organization. Oberlin College’s Dean of Students Meredith Raimundo, after all, mentioned “unleashing the students” of the college against Gibson’s Bakery with every indication it was a course of action she’d considered repeating (she and other Oberlin College employees and staff were present at Gibson’s Bakery disseminating pamphlets on which lies about the Gibsons and their business were printed, and their subsequent remarks show Oberlin College did what they did not just from malice, but in order to coerce Gibson’s Bakery to drop their civil action against the college.

    Is a RICO action too harsh? $44 million in civil damages hasn’t changed Oberlin College’s demeanor,.Their last official word?:

    “”We are disappointed in the jury’s decisions and the fragmentary and sometimes distorted public discussion of this case,” Oberlin College President Carmen Twillie Ambar wrote in a letter to faculty, students, parents and alumni. “But we respect the integrity of the jury, and we value our relationship with the town and region that are our home. We will learn from this lawsuit as we build a stronger relationship with our neighbors.”

    Ambar’s letter said the verdicts are “just one step along the way of what may turn out to be a lengthy and complex legal process.”

    So, Oberlin College is depending on its donors’ deep pockets to finance an appear of the original verdict, while their president weasel-worded herself away from admitting her school was responsible for what would be recognizable as corporate thuggery.anywhere else.

    If nothing else, RICO prosecution may be the only way for the Gibsons to have justice if Oberlin College’s lawyers manage to have the original court verdict overturned. It should be one of the alternatives considered specifically because of Oberlin College’s Dean of Students pressuring local businesses not to deal with Gibson’s Bakery, and alluding to “unleashing the students” of Oberlin College if they didn’t drop their lawsuit against the college.

    No university ought to be against the law.

  2. (music- to the tune of Birmingham)
    OberLind! Oberlin!
    Greatest city in Alabam.
    Clear across this great big land…
    There ain’t no place like Oberlin!

    (except Scarbutt, Louisiana)

  3. SJW’s should boycot the wheel. After all, it was culturally appropriated, and it allowed for a quantum leap in warfare and colonialism. They should boycott the internet, which was a military invention. They should boycott universities, because they are hot spots of cultural appropriation. They use Hindu-Arabic numerals, Greek philosophy, heck, they even have the temerity to teach African art history to non Africans. They should boycott iPhones because they were manufactured in China, I believe, which produces greenhouse gases. They should boycott everything made with fossil fuels – asphalt roads, plastics used in computers, phones, and medical devices, all medical tubing such as that used in transfusions and IV lines, and many medications.

    I think that SJW should put their money where their mouth is, and boycott everything that bothers them, in ways that will affect them. Otherwise, they’re just posers.

    It would do society a world of good if these activists stayed home, in their safe spaces, protected from alternative ideas, off the internet, and off the streets.

    1. Also, to be absolutely sure to avoid cultural appropriation, Caucasian SJWs should conduct a thorough ancestry check, and then restrict their dress accordingly to the appropriate Tartan plaid, lederhosen, etc. No more mandarin collars, tropical prints…cotton is out, obviously. A constructive use of the time left for the rest of their lives would be obsessing over what would be woke enough to wear – not culturally appropriating, not made from underpaid workers, not designed by old white men, fair trade… That should take about 50 years for them to figure out what to wear next Tuesday.

  4. Oberlin has always been a looney left organization even back in the 1970s. No surprise they are now an ultra-looney Progressive college catering to stupid people who want to study useless topics while being coddled and validated by other stupid people wanting to study useless topics. This is a great college NOT to recruit future employees from.

    It is good to see Oberlin get its comeuppance for trying to use its size and power to crush a small private business all in the service of faculty virtue signaling. It is a shame that the students who conceived and implemented this horrible abuse of power in promoting lies against the Gibson family and business are not also bearing financial consequences of a similar magnitude.

  5. Oberlin has been a looney left university even dating back to the 1960s when I was in college. No surprise they are have jumped the shark to complete Progressive lunacy. Nice to see them pay a price for trying to abuse their size and power against a small business. This needs to happen a lot more often until companies start to realize that trying to virtue signal at the expense of the reputations and rights of ordinary Americans is a losing proposition.

  6. Anti-Caucasian racists and misandrists are seeking to overthrow common sense and 21st century civility in America. Evolution or DEVOLUTION? Black supremacists and militant/violent feminism?

    1. “We are five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America.”

      – Barack Obama
      _____________

      “There’s a sucker born every minute.”

      – P.T. Barnum
      ___________

      “To the victors belong the spoils.”

      – Andrew Jackson
      ______________

      “We gave you a republic, if you can keep it.”

      – Ben Franklin

    1. “In response to verdict, Oberlin College Vice President and General Counsel Donica Thomas Varner sent out a blast email to alumni in which she said she was “disappointed with the verdict” and regrets “that the jury did not agree with the clear evidence our team presented.””

      http://tennesseestar.com/2019/06/10/legal-expert-says-oberlin-colleges-response-to-verdict-could-hurt-them-in-punitive-damages-hearing/

      The general counsel for the college, who is an attorney, seems to be one of the people who continues to dig Oberlin college even deeper into this hole.

        1. Who, i better clarify myself here. I didn’t mean to say her opinion was “colored” by the factt that she’s an AFRICAN AMERICAN. OF COURSE NOT. I WOULD NEVER SUGGEST SUCH A THING! PLEASE DON’T MISUNDERSTAND — I JUST WANTED FOLKS TO SEE HER VERY IMPRESSIVE RESUME.

          all the best qualifications, my oh my, how could she have miscalculated so badly?

          oh and by the way. probably they had “outside counsel” helping them, too.

          “Donica Thomas Varner is an experienced litigation attorney and higher education law practitioner with over 23 years of professional experience representing and advising public and private employers. Prior to joining Oberlin, Donica served as associate general counsel and practice group leader for the faculty, staff and student legal practice group in the Office of the Vice President and General Counsel at the University of Michigan.

          Donica began her legal practice with Detroit based law firms representing public and private employers in the areas of employment and labor law. Donica left private practice to join the legal staff at Wayne State University where she represented the university in trial and appellate courts, regulatory investigations, and labor negotiations. She then joined the legal staff at the University of Michigan in 2002 where her practice focused on student affairs, employment, immigration, litigation, and international engagement issues. She is a graduate of S.H.A.P.E. American High School in Belgium, North Carolina State University with a degree in political science, and the University of Michigan Law School.”

          AND SHE IS AN ARMY / DIPLOMATIC CORPS BRAT who grew up in Brussels!

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SHAPE_High_School

          Of course, Brussels, home of the worlds most useless and bloated bureaucracies– outside of DC that is!

  7. Due to gross nonfeasance on the part of its trustees, Oberlin is run by people like Natacha and Jill, and they’ve reacted to this ass-whipping about how Natacha and Jill would react.

    The appropriate response to this is at the very least the immediate dismissal of Meredith Raimondo, Donica Thomas Varner, and Carmen Twillie Ambar. If that’s not done, you know Oberlin’s board is asinine and unteachable.

    N.B. authorities in New York have discharged boards of trustees for less in the way of neglect of fiduciary duty. If similar provisions exist in Ohio law, Oberlin’s board should be dismissed and reconstituted if they don’t start fixing things.

    A real reform program at Oberlin would include the following

    1. The immediate dismissal of the Alinskyite characters in Oberlin’s administration, especially anyone with the character string ‘diversity’ in her title.

    2. Establishment of a new method of rank-ordering applicants: a vector equation whose terms are high school GPA, SAT scores (taking the median if a student took them multiple x), and Achievement test scores. Distribute dedicated funds over your rank-ordering to students who qualify for the proceeds of those specific specialized endowments, then run down your rank-order and distribute discounts to each aspirant according to a model of how much each family should be paying out of pocket given it’s income and the number of children the parents have had over the years. Calculate a running balance of discounts until you’ve reached a figure equal to the budgeted sum divided by your yield ratio. That’s who the admission letters go out to, unless the whole number of students derived from that running balance calculation exceeds (given your yield) the number of slots in the freshman class, in which case you cut back.

    3. Close all interdisciplinary programs and close all of the unconventional academic departments. Conventional departments are as follows: studio art, music, theatre and dance, film and photography, English, speech communication and rhetoric, Spanish, philosophy, creative writing, political science / international relations, sociology, economics, history, anthropology, biology, psychology, computer science, mathematics chemistry, geology, physics as well as certain niche majors where present (comparative religion, art history, Classics, French, foreign languages NOS, geography, human development, statistics, linguistics, demography, astronomy, and meteorology / climatology). All other departments and and programs are closed and their faculty discharged. NB, Oberlin doesn’t offer vocational majors. Vocational programs should be limited to a 15 credit teaching certificate that their undergraduates can earn along side their degrees and a post baccalaureate teaching degree of 48 credits.

    4. Undertake a retrospective audit of your graduating classes every year, looking back 35 years each time. Remark in each year the body of students in each cohort awarded a given degree, then deduct from that body the students whose combined SAT score was below the 33d percentile of their entering class. For each degree program, you have that residue calculated for each of 35 graduating classes. Sum your 35 data points to get an aggregate score for the whole period. Compute a ratio wherein the numerator is a given program’s aggregate score and the denominator is the sum of the aggreagate score of all programs. That ratio applied to the sum of departmental faculty position is your target staffing for that department, with the qualification that departments whose ratio falls below a critical level (say, 0.016) are closed or placed on austerity staffing (~3.7 FTE faculty). The ‘target score’ is not the number of positions a department has now, but the number it should be moving toward as faculty depart and new positions open up.

    5. Institute a serious core curriculum and abolish distribution requirements. A serious core would consist of 30 credits: 6 credits of statistics and research methods, 9 credits of philosophy (logic, epistemology, and aesthetics), and ~15 credits of history. The history portion would be a compendium of about 16 lecture series; each series would consist of a dozen or so lectures supplemented with several seminars, an examination, and a short paper. The core courses would not be taught by the departmental faculty, but by a separate general education faculty. For each core course, each entering class would be sliced into three sections. For each section, there would be a lecturer and a corps of seminar masters. The lecturer would prepare and deliver 3 lectures a week. The section would be assigned to seminars which would number about 15 students each. The master of a given seminar would hold 1 seminar a week for each of the seminars in his portfolio, assign and correct papers, assign and correct examinations, and hold office hours. One or two lecturers and 2 or 3 seminar masters could handle a whole section. The seminar masters would be permanent faculty, while the lecturers would be elderly faculty from other institutions hired on term contracts for lush compensation.

    6. Require 120 credits to be awarded a baccalaureate degree. An interdepartmental faculty would prepare and maintain a policy manual about what sort of AP and transfer credits would be acceptable to meet your general credit load and make decisions on edge cases referred to them by the dean of students or by disgruntled students. Do not allow transfer credits to substitute for any part of the core curriculum.

    7. Require 42 credits in a given major to graduate, and 24 credits in a subdepartmental concentration within a given major. Each department would develop a policy manual as to which sort of AP and transfer credits were acceptable and make decisions in edge cases. Require also that students accumulate in their major a baseline of 3 400-level credits and 9 300- and 400-level credits, a baseline that might be elaborated upon by the department. Grant each department a franchise to arrange their course list in a Chinese menu, requiring their majors take certain minima from one column or another.

    8. Allow subdepartmental concentrations in English and economics, subject to the department’s discretion (say, world literature or economic history). Require that certain departments establish concentrations, unless the department be so small it offers only one concentration. Said departments would be political science, sociology, history, anthropology, biology, and psychology. Limit subdepartmental majors to those departments which have concentrations in an area and ample staffing. As a practical matter, you’ll have subdepartmental majors only in biology, psychology, and (perhaps) political science, no others. Consider establishing multiple biology and psychology departments.

    9. Establish remedial centers to tutor lagging students in mathematics and writing. Establish a faculty development center to help faculty teach better.

    10. Establish a serious academic advisory service (including psychological testing) to help students pick a major. Also, screen all students to identify all those without the mathematics background to complete the statistics portion of the core curriculum.

    11. Require the provost publish the names of the worst faculty grade inflators and worst class cancellers.

    12. Limit p/t faculty to one per department unless a department be segmented, in which case one per segment.

    13. Have a class of quasi-faculty who do not count toward any department’s allocation: athletic coaches, laboratory instructors, remedial tutors, music tutors, and workshop instructors in the library and IT service.

    14. Compensate all faculty (bar those holding endowed chairs) according to the following formula:

    (b + c + s +x) x m where ‘b’ is a baseline salary, ‘c’ is an estimate of the number of courses to be taught, ‘s’ is an estimate of the number of additional sections to be taught in a given course, ‘x’ is a retrospective correction if your teaching schedule was not as anticipated (and is generally a negative number) and ‘m’ is a market increment specific to a given department (high for the chemistry department, nada for the English department).

    Deduct insurance costs from the baseline component.

    Allow supplements (specified in deeds or negotiated) for those holding endowed chairs.

    15. Have all f/t faculty (bar those with endowed chairs, whose schedule will be set by the deeds) teach a standard 3/2 schedule barring unexpected events. One of the five can be discharged by teaching an additional section.

    16. Organize the faculty (bar those with endowed chairs or courtesy appontments) in three ranks: instructor (who work on contracts of less than six semesters), lecturers (who work on contracts of 6 to 12 semesters), and professors (who have continuous tenure). Limit the number of professors to 38% of the faculty FTE, debar a grant of continuous tenure to any faculty member under the age of 45 and with less than 12 years of f/t service. P/t faculty would have the same ranks, just paid less and with lower course loads. ‘Visitng professor’ and ‘visiting lecturer’ would be courtesy titles given to instructors who have held a certain rank elsewhere, and would commonly come with a salary increment.

    17. Require faculty who’ve paid into TIAA-CREF for 40 years (FTE) to assume emeritus status, and work on renewable three-year contracts if they so desired.

    18. Limit faculty governance to decisions on curriculum, graduation requirements, acceptable transfer credits, faculty hiring, faculty contract renewal, and tenure.

    19. Staff the admissions office with people trained in statistics and accounting.

    20. Staff the office of the dean of students with people trained in various branches of psychology.

    21. Staff most administrative divisions with people who have backgrounds in accounting, finance, construction management, business administration, public administration, marketing, information technology, and law. The position of provost and the instructional deans should come from the ranks of faculty, but have appended to them a business professional who knows institutional budgeting.

    22. Be wary of installing an academician as college president.

    23. Publish a faculty manual with a liberal definition of ‘fired for cause’. Grant the trustees an exclusive franchise to use it for that purpose.

    1. “Due to gross nonfeasance on the part of its trustees, Oberlin is run by people like Natacha and Jill …”
      *********************************
      From what I read, they’d be an upgrade.

      1. Reuters is not too far behind.

        In an article published today on SCOTUS, the “journalists” mentioned the word “conservative” 4 x and “liberal” 1 x.
        The headline screams near anarchy because the article is written with reference to their Holy Grail: Roe v Wade

        —–
        https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-court-thomas/justice-thomas-urges-u-s-supreme-court-to-feel-free-to-reverse-precedents-idUSKCN1TI2KJ

        Justice Thomas urges U.S. Supreme Court to feel free to reverse precedents

        (Reuters) – Justice Clarence Thomas on Monday urged the U.S. Supreme Court to feel less bound to upholding precedent, advancing a view that if adopted by enough of his fellow justices could result in more past decisions being overruled, perhaps including the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion nationwide.

        FILE PHOTO: U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas talks in his chambers at the U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington, U.S. June 6, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst/File Photo
        Writing in a gun possession case over whether the federal government and states can prosecute someone separately for the same crime, Thomas said the court should reconsider its standard for reviewing precedents.

        Thomas said the nine justices should not uphold precedents that are “demonstrably erroneous,” regardless of whether other factors supported letting them stand.

        “When faced with a demonstrably erroneous precedent, my rule is simple: We should not follow it,” wrote Thomas, who has long expressed a greater willingness than his colleagues to overrule precedents.

        In a concurring opinion, which no other justice joined, Thomas referred to the court’s 1992 decision in Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which reaffirmed Roe and said states cannot place an undue burden on the constitutional right to an abortion recognized in the Roe decision. Thomas, a member of the court at the time, dissented from the Casey ruling.

        Thomas, 70, joined the court in 1991 as an appointee of Republican President George H.W. Bush. Thomas is its longest-serving current justice.

        The court now has a 5-4 conservative majority, and Thomas is among its most conservative justices.

        He demonstrated his willingness to abandon precedent in February when he wrote that the court should reconsider its landmark 1964 New York Times v. Sullivan ruling that made it harder for public officials to win libel lawsuits.

        “Thomas says legal questions have objectively correct answers, and judges should find them regardless of whether their colleagues or predecessors found different answers,” said Jonathan Entin, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland. “Everyone is concerned about this because they’re thinking about Roe v. Wade.”

        COURT DIVISIONS

        The Thomas opinion focused on “stare decisis,” a Latin term referring to the legal principle that U.S. courts should not overturn precedents without a special reason.

        While stare decisis (pronounced STAR-ay deh-SY-sis) has no formal parameters, justices deciding whether to uphold precedents often look at such factors as whether they work, enhance stability in the law, are part of the national fabric or promote reliance interests, such as in contract cases.

        In 2000, conservative then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist left intact the landmark 1966 Miranda v. Arizona ruling, which required police to advise people in custody of their rights, including the rights to remain silent and have a lawyer.

        Writing for a 7-2 majority, Rehnquist wrote that regardless of concerns about Miranda’s reasoning, “the principles of stare decisis weigh heavily against overruling it now.” Thomas joined Justice Antonin Scalia’s dissent from that decision. But even Scalia, a conservative who died in 2016, had a different view of stare decisis.

        In a widely quoted comment, Scalia once told a Thomas biographer, Ken Foskett, that Thomas “doesn’t believe in stare decisis, period,” and that “if a constitutional line of authority is wrong, he would say let’s get it right. I wouldn’t do that.”

        Stare decisis has also split the current court, including last month when in a 5-4 decision written by Thomas the justices overruled a 1979 precedent that had allowed states to be sued by private parties in courts of other states.

        Justice Stephen Breyer, a member of the court’s liberal wing, dissented, faulting the majority for overruling “a well-reasoned decision that has caused no serious practical problems.” Citing the 1992 Casey ruling, Breyer said the May decision “can only cause one to wonder which cases the Court will overrule next.”

        Thomas said the court should “restore” its jurisprudence relating to precedents to ensure it exercises “mere judgment” and focuses on the “correct, original meaning” of laws it interprets.

        “In our constitutional structure, our rule of upholding the law’s original meaning is reason enough to correct course,” Thomas wrote.

        Thomas also said demonstrably erroneous decisions should not be “elevated” over federal statutes, as well as the Constitution, merely because they are precedents.

        “That’s very different from what the Court does today,” said John McGinnis, a law professor at Northwestern University in Chicago.

        McGinnis said the thrust of Thomas’s opinion “makes clear that in a narrow area he will give some weight to precedent. But at the same time, he thinks cases have one right answer, and might find more cases ‘demonstrably erroneous.’”

  8. “What is the most striking aspect of this story is how completely unapologetic the college remains.” Universities no longer deserve their reputations as serious institutions of higher learning. They have become political madrassas. They spend more time on segregating students by gender, providing safe spaces, discriminating against people who don’t want to learn 75 pronouns so as not to upset those suffering from the mental illness known as gender dysphoria, and bashing conservatives, than they do on teaching serious subjects. They offer fluff degrees for students with little academic aptitude, such as gender studies. All students have to to earn an A is to string together papers from a professor approved list of hot words, like a Mad Lib – patriarchy, intersection, colonialism, slavery, old white males, etc. They are emphasizing the soft sciences over serious courses of study. Some even pollute mathematics with politics.

    As long as parents and students pay for such behavior, it will continue.

    Apparently, a court adjudicating the university in the wrong had zero affect. You know what would? Plummeting enrollment.

    If you don’t vote with your wallets, these universities will continue working towards the Fahrenheit 451 dream of utopia through tyranny.

    And, I’m sorry, but criminal behavior is wrong, no matter what the basal melanin concentration of the perpetrator is. No one gets a pass based on skin color. Does this have to be explained in terms of jurisprudence?

    We must stop excusing criminal behavior and set the bar higher.

  9. I’d like to know more about the request to not call the police for a first-time shoplifter. This is not at all uncommon,. but it is not, as suggested, a “free pass”. What is usually done is that the person who is caught is brought to management. His or her name, address and photo are taken, he/she is required to relinquish the goods attempted to be stolen and in lieu of prosecution is required to sign a statement admitting to the theft, and to acknowledge that they are banned for life from entering the store. With bigger stores, they might even have someone who could fingerprint them. The admission/disclosure document states that if they enter the store again, the police will be called and they will be turned in. Most would-be shoplifters take this deal, which is beneficial for both the store and the would-be shoplifter, as it saves time for court appearances. Also, sometimes shoplifting is part of an initiation into a club or fraternity and/or the product of poor judgment due to immaturity. Of course, this deal wouldn’t be offered when high-end merchandise is at issue. I know of someone who, at age 14 and living with her mother who had serious mental problems and didn’t regularly prepare meals, attempted to steal a package of bologna from a grocery. 10 years later, she applied for a cashier’s job, and the previous non-prosecuted shoplifting matter was brought up and she didn’t get the job.

    1. “Police rejected claims of a racial motive and noted that, over a period of five years, 40 adults were arrested for shoplifting at Gibson’s Bakery, but only six were African American.” No, that is not the evidence of a lack of racism. I don’t care if all previous shoplifters arrested were white or black. What matters is if they have everyone suspected of shoplifting arrested, equally. Gibson’s does.

      If Gibson’s operated in a minority majority neighborhood, and virtually all arrested shoplifters were black, then it still could not be charged with racism unless it overlooked white shoplifters.

      1. Sorry, I meant my comment to be under the heading of my original comment, not a reply to Natacha. My comment didn’t address her post.

        What I will say is that I live next to a town where shoplifting is common. People will grab stuff and run through the doors. I often see the police in front of the Walmart and other stores in that area. The stores have a tough time, because they face repercussions such as accusations of racism. If their security physically interacts with a shoplifter, they can get in trouble, too. It’s literally grab and go.

        This selfish stealing raises prices for everyone else. It drives people out of business. My favorite organic store is two towns over, and when it gets bad, they have to hire a security officer to stand by the door. There are security guards who check the receipts of me and everyone else as they leave Walmart. Some restaurants require patrons to pay first, because they have suffered from dine and dash so many times. These measures cost a lot of money. Unthinkingly, people in the area bemoan when jobs are scarce, or the price of goods, without connecting the dots.

        There seems to be a cultural approval of criminal behavior that is growing. It is one of many signs of internal rot, along with balkanization, hoards of illegal immigration stressing our infrastructure, divisiveness, and general entitlement.

        Shades of Rome in the final days.

        1. I was required to run a convenience store after my brother died while his estate was being settled. His national retailer required me to attend a seminar on “shrink”, which is a nice word for stealing. This was offered by a company that does nothing but theft deterrence. They sell no products or services other than education. Their statistics showed that 85% of “shrink” was due to employee pilfering, either of merchandise or cash, 10% was vendors or delivery people helping themselves to merchandise on the way in or out, or pilfering a few items from a case of this or that here or there, and only about 5% was customer theft. It shocked me how often cases of goods were short, and not because the manufacturer didn’t count or pack correctly. If they short several customers a few items at a time, they could take home or sell an entire case of goods. Oftentimes, the contract with various vendors requires or allows them to stock shelves, and this is for product placement and is part of the contract so you get a better price, which is why you have to have an employee there when they open every single box, and not let them take away the empty boxes. The purpose of this seminar was to clue in those of us new to retail on where to direct our attention to most-effectively deter “shrink”, and that was not to watch customers, but to watch employees and delivery people. This is why you may have noticed that many businesses have signs at their delivery doors prohibiting deliveries between certain hours-which is when they are busiest. This is one tactic delivery thieves use–come in when you are too busy with customers to notice them slipping out a few items or shorting you a delivery. Sometimes employees and delivery people work together. They showed actual video of how much stuff delivery people could cram into a stack of flattened boxes, and how easily employees could short a business on cash or put extra items in bags for their accomplices. Yes, shoplifting is a problem, but not the biggest cause of losses in retail.

          1. I was required to run a convenience store after my brother died while his estate was being settled.

            Was this before or after you got your law / nursing license?

        2. “This selfish stealing raises prices for everyone else.”

          Kind of like people who avoid taxes like Karen’s hero, who’s election and subsequent lowering of one bar after another for presidential behavior is a sure sign of internal rot.

          “Shades of Rome in the final days.”

              1. Let’s have a blast from the past, another one of NYT’s serious goofs

                https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jayson_Blair

                Jayson Thomas Blair (born March 23, 1976) is a former American journalist who worked for The New York Times. He resigned from the newspaper in May 2003 in the wake of the discovery of fabrication and plagiarism in his stories.

                Blair published a memoir of this period, entitled Burning Down My Masters’ House (2004), recounting his career, a diagnosis of bipolar disorder after his resignation, and his view of race relations at the newspaper. He later established a support group for people with bipolar disorder and became a life coach.

                Background
                Blair was born in Columbia, Maryland, the son of a federal executive and a schoolteacher. While attending the University of Maryland, College Park, he was a student journalist. For 1996–1997, he was selected as the second African-American editor-in-chief of its student newspaper, The Diamondback. According to a 2004 article by the Baltimore Sun, some of his fellow students opposed his selection.[1]

                After a summer interning at The New York Times in 1998, Blair was offered an extended internship there. He declined in order to complete more coursework for graduation. But he returned to the Times in June 1999, with a year of coursework left to complete.[2] That November, he was classified as an “intermediate reporter”.[2] He was later promoted to a full reporter and then to editor.

                Plagiarism and fabrication scandal
                On April 28, 2003, Blair received a call from Times national editor James Roberts asking him about similarities between a story he had written two days earlier[3] and one published April 18 by San Antonio Express-News reporter Macarena Hernandez.[4] The senior editor of the Express-News had contacted the Times about the similarities between Blair’s article in the Times and Hernandez’s article in his paper.[1]

                The resulting inquiry led to the discovery of fabrication and plagiarism in a number of articles written by Blair.[5] Some fabrications include Blair’s claims to have traveled to the city mentioned in the dateline, when in fact he did not.

                Suspect articles include the following:[6]

                In the October 30, 2002 piece “US Sniper Case Seen as a Barrier to a Confession”, Blair wrote that a dispute between police authorities had ruined the interrogation of Beltway sniper suspect John Muhammad and that Muhammad was about to confess, quoting unnamed officials.[7] This was swiftly denied by everyone involved. Blair also named certain lawyers, who were not present, as having witnessed the interrogation.[6]
                In the February 10, 2003 piece “Peace and Answers Eluding Victims of the Sniper Attacks”, Blair claimed to be in Washington.[8] He allegedly plagiarized quotations from a Washington Post story and fabricated quotations from a person he had never interviewed. Blair ascribed a wide range of attributes to a man featured in the article, almost all of which the man in question denied. Blair also published information that he had promised was to be off the record.[6]
                In the March 3, 2003 piece “Making Sniper Suspect Talk Puts Detective in Spotlight”, Blair claimed to be in Fairfax, Virginia.[9] He described a videotape of Lee Malvo, the younger defendant in the case, being questioned by police and quoted officials’ review of the tape. No such tape existed. Blair also claimed a detective noticed blood on a man’s jeans leading to a confession, which had not occurred.[6]
                In the March 27, 2003 piece “Relatives of Missing Soldiers Dread Hearing Worse News”, Blair claimed to be in West Virginia.[10] He allegedly plagiarized quotations from an Associated Press article. He claimed to have spoken to the father of Jessica Lynch, who had no recollection of meeting Blair; said “tobacco fields and cattle pastures” were visible from Lynch’s parents’ house when they were not; erroneously stated that Lynch’s brother was in the National Guard; misspelled Lynch’s mother’s name; and fabricated a dream that he claimed she had had.[6]
                In the April 3, 2003 piece “Rescue in Iraq and a ‘Big Stir’ in West Virginia”, Blair claimed to have covered the Lynch story from her hometown of Palestine, West Virginia.[11] Blair never traveled to Palestine, and his entire contribution to the story consisted of rearranged details from Associated Press stories.[6]
                In the April 7, 2003 piece “For One Pastor, the War Hits Home”, Blair wrote of a church service in Cleveland and an interview with the minister.[12] Blair never went to Cleveland; he spoke to the minister by telephone, and copied portions of the article from an earlier Washington Post article. He also plagiarized quotations from The Plain Dealer and New York Daily News. He fabricated a detail about the minister keeping a picture of his son inside his Bible and got the name of the church wrong.[6]
                In the April 19, 2003 piece “In Military Wards, Questions and Fears from the Wounded”, Blair described interviewing four injured soldiers in a naval hospital.[13] He had never gone to the hospital and had spoken to only one soldier by telephone, to whom he later attributed made-up quotes. Blair wrote that the soldier “will most likely limp the rest of his life and need to use a cane”, which was untrue. He said another soldier had lost his right leg when it had been amputated below the knee. He described two soldiers as being in the hospital at the same time, but they were admitted five days apart.[6]
                After internal investigations, The New York Times reported on Blair’s journalistic misdeeds in an “unprecedented”[14] 7,239-word front-page story on May 11, 2003, headlined “Times Reporter Who Resigned Leaves Long Trail of Deception.”[2] The story called the affair “a low point in the 152-year history of the newspaper.”[2]

                After the scandal broke, some 30 former staffers of The Diamondback, who had worked with Blair when he was editor-in-chief at the university newspaper, signed a 2003 letter alleging that Blair had made four serious errors as a reporter and editor while at the University of Maryland. They said these and his work habits brought his integrity into question. The letter-signers alleged that questions raised by some of these staffers at the time were ignored by Maryland Media, Inc. (MMI), the board that owned the paper.[1][15]

                Aftermath
                The investigation, known as the Siegal committee, found heated debate among the staff over affirmative action hiring, as Blair is African American. Jonathan Landman, Blair’s editor, told the Siegal committee he felt that Blair’s being black played a large part in the younger man’s initial promotion in 2001 to full-time staffer. “I think race was the decisive factor in his promotion,” he said. “I thought then and I think now that it was the wrong decision.”[16]

                1. “bipolar’ seems to be the go-to excuse these days. And a ‘life coach’. Isn’t that cute?

                  Guy’s a sociopath. Howell Raines deserved him.

    2. So you think allowing once will deter the thief from going to the next store, and another, and another. It is a crime. It will stop when the punishment deters it.

  10. As long as the tenure system persists, so will this arrogant behavior. Tenured individuals feel untouchable and act as such.

    1. I disagree with tenure on principal. I can see the argument that tenure allows academics to post unpopular papers, unhindered by the Board. But there is zero excuse for tenure in K-12.

      Universities should be run more like a business. Fire those who underperform. Post information on what each degree is worth in the earnings and job market. Trim down degrees that produce unmarketable, jobless students. And for the love of all that’s holy, force professors to leave their personal political opinions at the door and teach the darn classes – math, biology, chemistry, literature, psychology, etc.

      1. Like Karen, I am opposed to tenure but include college professors. Guaranteed employment regardless of output or competence just rubs me the wrong way.

  11. The lack of professionalism among the university officials and faculty is what’s particularly galling about all of this. I’m sure that that’s the way the jury was looking at it. One might expect such self-righteous rhetoric from the undergraduate green-haired dorks. Lots of people through such a phase and live to blush about it. But to get through grad school and be hired to professional positions and not to have outgrown that. Sheesh. I guess staying in the university system means never having to grow up.

    If these people are not embarrassed to have their children or their students see them saying such childish things, I suppose it’s left to the jury system can deter them.

    The shoplifters themselves at least appear to have had the maturity to plead guilty and get on with their lives.

  12. An old saying says; “Stupid is as stupid does” seems to fit here. How can the administrators, who are ostensibly reasonably intelligent people, not only allow but actually encourage the actions. And, to make matters worse, once found at fault, instead of acknowledging their mistake, continue to support the wrong doing? While I support higher education – although I abhor the high cost, which I believe has been supported and abetted by the Federal student loan program – it might be well if institutions that allow this type of activity do go bankrupt and cease to exist.

  13. “That defiant attitude cost them a cool $33 Million punitive award (reduced by statute to $22 Million). The price of A-holed-ness is now set. Let the market take note.”

    The effect of markets to influence behavior presupposes rational actors. There’s a notable absence of these in the outrage market. It could take a long time for this particular bubble to burst.

  14. Oberlin College – “Learning and Labor”. Sounds Marxist. Except for the “learning” part.

    1. it’s a transparent ripoff of the Dominican order’s slogan “ORA ET LABORA”
      that means prayer and labor

      Founders of Oberlin probably felt they were their day’s high priests who have replaced the Church
      which is why they ripped off the Dominican slogan with their own

      1. “Founders of Oberlin probably felt they were their day’s high priests who have replaced the Church
        which is why they ripped off the Dominican slogan with their own”

        Actually Oberlin was founded by a pair of presbyterian ministers.

        So, you know, let’s not get intoxicated by our own outrage and righteousness here.

        1. Presbyterians are not Dominicans. Dominicans are Catholic.

          So maybe it was Presbyterians ripping them off; makes little difference to the point.

  15. “What is the most striking aspect of this story is how completely unapologetic the college remains.”
    *************

    That defiant attitude cost them a cool $33 Million punitive award (reduced by statute to $22 Million). The price of A-holed-ness is now set. Let the market take note.

    1. “That defiant attitude cost them a cool $33 Million punitive award (reduced by statute to $22 Million). The price of A-holed-ness is now set. Let the market take note.”

      The effect of markets to influence behavior presupposes rational actors. There’s a notable absence of these in the outrage market. It could take a long time for this particular bubble to burst.

      1. DONORS to Oberlin will wake up and smell the coffee. Why pay for a lawsuit for some stupidity?

        Give to Julliard instead

        Too bad for Ohio

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