Please use this brief sketch to think along with me as I struggle with my continuing problems in teaching an upper-level law school course on capital punishment. Although I have been teaching it for six years, I continue to have serious doubts about my ability to do it. If I can intrigue you enough with my quandary, maybe I can squeeze out of our encounter a few insights to allow me to do better, or at least to keep me searching for answers. In return, maybe I can suggest some limitations on the justice mission of law faculty. Should the classroom be exempt from the justice mission of law faculty? At least for courses addressing particularly emotional topics, it would appear that the need is to tone down the advocacy nature of teaching and to push as strongly as possible for a neutral stance from the instructor. And if the instructor is too emotionally involved in the topic to be able to accomplish that end, then maybe she should teach something else. Another professor asks "at what junctures" law faculty ought to pursue the concerns of justice. Perhaps all I have done is to suggest one juncture at which such pursuits are part of the problem rather than part of the solution. Until convinced otherwise, I will continue to try to keep my personal justice mission out of my capital punishment course.


The Justice Mission of American Law Schools