My first academic HATE MAIL!!

Yay me!  How cool is that?!?!  Here is the text:

Laura Beth Nielsen:

You are quoted in “Researching Law” as stating:  “Rather than promoting social chance, too often the legal system discourages people from using the law to remedy workplace injustices.” 

That is not the role of courts.  That is the role of legislatures and social scientists.

I feel your research is lousy.  It starts from false premises.

Cordially, NAME

Discuss.  Please note this is co-authored research with a powerful man, the director of the foundation but did he get hate mail?  nooooo.  If the discussion is robust I will share bits of my response which was fun to do but took the whole morning. 

Hate mail may be too strong and I have received my share of reviews taking me to task on my read of the First Amendment jurisprudence, but those are usually blind peer reviews.

10 Responses to My first academic HATE MAIL!!

  1. jeffaregularworkinglawyer says:

    This is hysterical. A few quick points, since I need to get some work done:

    1. No one cares about what you “feel”, buddy boy. An educated person would write something like this: “Your research is lousy; it starts from false premises.”, or “Your research is invalid because it starts from a false premise.” Put down your crayon, and slowly back away from your computer monitor.

    2. Actually, you moron, it is the role of the courts to remedy workplace injustices, and thereby promote better treatment of women and minorities by their employers and co-workers, an important social change. Congress gave that role to the courts when it enacated the large body of anti-discrimination laws that ostensibly protect American workers, and created private rights of action to enforce them.

  2. laurabethnielsen says:

    point #2 is the substance of my letter. and my research.

    I am confused as to what you mean by “that is not the role of courts.” If you mean that courts should not be in the business of promoting social change then I disagree normatively and empirically. Normatively, courts are precisely the branch of government most able (through autonomy and first principles of justice) to ensure that individuals are protected by and from the state. Whether you agree with that normative proposition is largely irrelevant, however as it is an empirical fact that in this country we have made the policy choice to enforce civil rights through the courts. It is what Tom Burke calls a “litigious policy.” Here, we may be in agreement. I would much prefer strong regulations and mandates for affirmative action to ensure workplace equality. Unfortunately, that is not the path we have taken.

  3. jeffaregularworkinglawyer says:

    “Here, we may be in agreement” is way too subtle. Just tell him he’s an idiot.

  4. lbsmom says:

    Or, just tell the idiot your mama will beat us his mama. Maybe you outgrew the playground, but I didn’t.

  5. lbsmom says:

    should read–“beat up,” not “beat us.”

  6. laurabethnielsen says:

    Well, he does give money to the foundaiton (that is why he gets our little magazine “Researching Law”) so my promise to Bob was no swear words in my response but other than that I have academic freedom. Why? Because I have tenure baby!

  7. laurabethnielsen says:

    another mysterious smiley. weird.

  8. briand0n0van says:

    “Why? Because I have tenure baby!”
    Congratulations!! That’s fantastic news. I will expect your youtube announcement video within the week. Tenure is great, but nothing says you’ve arrived like hate mail. Have fun with it.

  9. orderemerges says:

    Coming from an academic point of view, this person’s comment is so nebulous as to be meaningless. Which kind of legal system, civil or common, is an important context. I could see a European perspective this kind of comment would be perfectly legitimate. But in common law nations, the judicial system is the most important institution in support of founding principles, current rights, and new legal intuitions.

    The commenter doesn’t not clarify if they are talking about judicial activism. Even if this comment has in mind this argument against such activism, I have read and heard some very good arguments in favor of judicial activism to protect conservative agendas.

    Though it is nice to have someone notice and respond to your ideas, I think here a rock’s retort might have held more interest.

  10. laurabethnielsen says:

    Yes the note is very vague. There are other clues about what he means in the type of law he practices and such. He meant the US

    You are right about judicial activism too — conservatives call it activism when the court moves left and original intent when it moves right.

    This kind of interest in my work is fun because the interplay between practicing lawyers and scholars is always a place for me to collect more data. But yes, this kind of interest in my work is not very relevant for my academic career.

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