Former UChicago Law Students Say Scalia Was A 'Blatant Racist' Professor
By Zoe Greenberg in News on Feb 29, 2016 10:26PM
Several former black students at the University of Chicago Law School, where Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia served as a law professor from 1977 to 1982, say they remember the justice, who passed away last month, as a “blatant racist” who treated black students, and their work, as less-than.
Arnim Johnson, who wrote about his time as Scalia’s student in a widely shared Facebook post, said one year Scalia flunked every black student who took his class.
“The school administration passed on taking any action, since the actual facts regarding his intent could not be adduced in a tribunal. However, what he thought of black people was indisputable, and believe me it was nothing nice,” Johnson wrote.
Ben Streeter, now an attorney with the Federal Election Commission and a former black student of Scalia’s, told Gawker that although he in fact passed Scalia’s course, he, too, noticed preferential treatment towards white students. Streeter said the final exam in one of Scalia’s classes included an unprecedented short-answer section, with answers that weren't covered in class. Streeter suspected Scalia had mentioned the material with students who came to visit him outside of class.
“In those days, the only students who came by to visit him were in the Federalist Society group,” Streeter told Gawker. “There was not a single black member of the Federalist Society in my three years at the University of Chicago.”
Phillip Hampton, the former president of the University of Chicago’s Black Student Law Association, told Gawker that he found it strange that “every black student’s lowest grade was in Scalia’s class.” He also remembered Scalia once saying that he could “usually tell papers that were written by African Americans,” even if they had no names on them.
Scalia came under fire earlier this year when he suggested that black students would be better off at worse universities in an affirmative action case before the Supreme Court.
"There are those who contend that it does not benefit African-Americans to get them into the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a slower-track school where they do well,” Scalia said.
Johnson's full Facebook post:
Scalia was a law professor of mine, and was on the faculty of the U of Chicago the entire three years I attended. The law school is one of the smallest in the country, housed in one building and relatively intimate as graduate schools go. 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. 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 repected military judge. Ultimately, no action was taken because the source of the information was private, confidential and privileged, and Scalia’s racist attitude and actions toward black students could be plausibly denied, but just barely. He stuck with his story that he had graded blindly, but it came out that Scalia had done the same thing, when he was on the faculty at the U of Virginia. However, Scalia was an academic star actively politicking for a federal judgeship with national political connections, as well as being quite personable. The school administration passed on taking any action, since the actual facts regarding his intent could not be adduced in a tribunal. However, what he thought of black people was indisputable, and believe me it was nothing nice. Being a swarthy, son of poor Sicilian immmigrants, and intent on becoming an all-American white man, he was consumed with putting as much space between himself and Negroes as possible, and becoming an honorary member of the WASP elite.