“I really don’t like this categorization of schools as first, second, and third-tier,” Alito told the Spectator.
“The U.S. News and World Report rankings of law schools are an abomination,” he added. “The legal profession and the country would be better off if they were eliminated. I gather that all these rankings are one of these things that keeps U.S. News and World Report in the black—unlike Newsweek.”
The conservative justice’s attitude about law school rankings is reflected in his choice of clerks. Between 2009 and 2010, only two of his eight clerks graduated from Ivy League law schools, the Spectator reported.
Alito is not the first Supreme Court justice to attack law school rankings or to express a willingness to hire clerks who didn’t go to Ivy League schools. Justice Clarence Thomas has said U.S. News’ law school rankings encourage bias against grads of lower-ranked schools—a discrimination not unlike that against women and minorities.
Others have criticized U.S. News’ rankings, including the Northwestern law professor Steven J. Harper. Harper has complained that much of the ranking depends on surveys sent out to law school deans and faculty members who may not have set foot on the campus of the schools they’re rating.