Before Justice Antonin Scalia was on the Supreme Court he taught at the University of Chicago Law School from 1977 to 1982 and several of his former African American law students are calling him a “blatant racist” for the way that he treated them.
According to a Facebook post from Arnim Johnson that has since gone viral, Scalia flunked every black student who took his class. “When 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,” Johnson said.
According to him, no students flunk courses at elite law schools. “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 military judge.”
Apparently no actions could be taken against Scalia because the sources of the information were all “private, confidential and privileged, and Scalia’s racist attitude and actions toward black students could be plausibly denied, but just barely,” Johnson explained. Scalia always defended himself that he graded blindly, but apparently the same thing happened when he was on the faculty at the University of Virginia and “politicking for a federal judgeship with national political connections.” Johnson explained that Scalia got away with it at UVA because “the actual facts regarding his intent could not be adduced in a tribunal.”
Johnson wrote that he thought Scalia was intent on becoming a member of the WASP elite but as the son of a poor Sicilian immigrant that proved to be difficult. Thus, he became “consumed with putting as much space between himself and Negroes as possible.”
Federal Elections Commission attorney Ben Streeter was a former black student of Scalia’s as well. According to a statement he gave to Gawker, he noticed preferential treatment for white students over non-whites. Some exam questions were short-answer questions that didn’t come from lectures or text but rather conversations with students who stopped by his office.
“In those days, the only students who came by to visit him were in the Federalist Society group,” Streeter said. “There was not a single black member of the Federalist Society in my three years at the University of Chicago.”
Phillip Hampton agrees with the others. The former president of the University of Chicago’s Black Student Law Association, said that he found it odd that “every black student’s lowest grade was in Scalia’s class.” At one point he recalled Scalia saying that he could “usually tell papers that were written by African Americans,” even if the papers didn’t have names on them.
After years of disturbing statements, Scalia came under fire for suggesting that black students would do better at less-advanced colleges and universities. “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.