David Bernstein

American academic

David E. Bernstein (born 1967) is a law professor at the George Mason University School of Law in Arlington, Virginia, where he has taught since 1995. His primary areas of scholarly research are constitutional history and the admissibility of expert testimony. Bernstein is a contributor to the legal blog The Volokh Conspiracy. Bernstein is a graduate of the Yale Law School, where he was a John M. Olin Fellow in Law, Economics and Public Policy, a Claude Lambe Fellow of the Institute for Humane Studies, and a senior editor of the Yale Law Journal. He received his undergraduate degree from Brandeis University.

David Bernstein in 2016



Classified: The Untold Story of Racial Classification in America (2022)

Bombardier Press, ISBN 978-1637581735
  • Pooling people in race silos is akin to zoologists grouping raccoons, tigers, and okapis on the basis that they are all stripey.
  • Researchers discovered that for a given cohort of law school graduates, there was a massive disparity between those who listed themselves as Native American lawyers on the census (228) and the number of self-identified Native Americans who graduated law school over that same time period (2,610). In other words, over ten times as many people claimed to be Native American when they applied to law school than identified themselves as Native American lawyers once they graduated.

Lawless: The Obama Administration's Unprecedented Assault on the Constitution and the Rule of Law (2015)

Encounter, ISBN 978-1594038334
  • Some former Bush officials, however, believed that the Justice Department's failure to pursue the New Black Panther Party case resulted from top Obama administration officials' ideological belief that civil rights laws only apply to protect members of minority groups from discrimination by whites. Department spokeswoman Tracy Schmaler denied any such motives. She asserted that "the department makes enforcement decisions based on the merits, not the race, gender or ethnicity of any party involved". But an anonymous Justice Department official told the Washington Post that "the Voting Rights Act was passed because people like Bull Connor [a white police commissioner] were hitting people like John Lewis [a black civil rights activist], not the other way around". The Post concluded that the New Black Panther Party case "tapped into deep divisions within the Justice Department that persist today over whether the agency should focus on protecting historically oppressed minorities or enforce laws without regard to race".
    The Office of Professional Responsibility's report on the case found that several former and current DOJ attorneys told investigators under oath that some lawyers in the Civil Rights Division don't believe that the DOJ should bring cases involving white victims of racial discrimination. The report also found that Voting Section lawyers believed that their boss, appointed by President Obama, wanted them to bring only cases protecting members of American minority groups. She phrased this as having the section pursue only "traditional" civil rights enforcement cases. Her employees understood that by "traditional" she meant only cases involving minority victims.
  • [P]olitical speech does not lose First Amendment protection "simply because its source is a corporation". Otherwise, there would be nothing in the Constitution stopping the government from shutting down any newspaper, movie company, television station, or website that organized itself as a corporation.
  • A college student who wants to file a complaint of sexual assault within the campus disciplinary system informs a university employee such as an assistant dean for student life, or perhaps the Title IX coordinator. That person eventually forwards the complaint to a university disciplinary panel that may be composed of, for example, an associate dean with a master's degree in English literature, a professor of chemistry, and a senior majoring in anthropology. Unlike criminal prosecutors, members of the disciplinary panels do not have access to subpoena powers or to crime labs. They often have no experience in fact-finding, arbitration, conflict resolution, or any other relevant skill set. There is, to put it mildly, little reason to expect such panels to have the experience, expertise, and resources necessary to adjudicate a contested claim of sexual assault.
    Making matters worse, most campus tribunals ban attorneys for the parties (even in an advisory capacity), rules of procedure and evidence are typically ad hoc, and no one can consult precedents because records of previous disputes are sealed due to privacy considerations. Campus "courts" therefore have an inherently kangoorish nature. Even trained police officers and prosecutors too often mishandle sexual assault cases, so it's not surprising that the amateurs running the show at universities tend to have a poor record. And indeed, some victims' advocacy groups, such as the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network (RAINN), oppose having the government further encourage the campus judicial system to primarily handle campus sexual assault claims, because that means not treating rape as a serious crime.
    A logical solution, if federal intervention is indeed necessary, would be for OCR [US Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights] to mandate that universities encourage students who complain of sexual assault to report the assault immediately to the police, and that universities develop procedures to cooperate with police investigations. Concerns about victims' well-being when prosecutors decline to pursue a case could also be adjudicated in a real court, as a student could seek a civil protective order against her alleged assailant. OCR could have mandated or encouraged universities to cooperate with those civil proceedings, which in some cases might warrant excluding an alleged assailant from campus.
  • OCR [US Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights] also states that a "school should also ensure that hearings are conducted in a manner that does not inflict additional trauma on the complainant", which implies that the school should not start the proceedings with a presumption of innocence, or even a stance of neutrality. Rather, university officials should assume that any complaint is valid and the accused is guilty as charged.
  • In early 2014, the Department of Justice and Education issued guidelines pressuring public school districts to adopt racial quotas when disciplining children. The basis for this guidance was studies showing that black children were over three times more likely to face serious punishment--suspension or expulsion--for misbehaving at school. The government concluded that school districts were engaging in massive illegal discrimination against black students.
    In fact, however, the government had no basis for its conclusion. The Supreme Court has explicitly stated that racial disparities in punishment do not by themselves prove discrimination, as they may just be consistent with the underlying rates of misbehavior by each group. There are no valid statistics (and the government hasn't cited any) from which one can infer that black students and white students would be expected to engage in serious misbehavior in school at the same rate.
    Unless there is some reason to expect kids to behave completely differently at school than outside of it, the school discipline figures are in line with what one would expect. African-American minors are arrested outside of school for violent crime at a rate approximately 3.5 times their share of the population. Moreover, as former Department of Education attorney Hans Bader notes, the government's own statistics show that white boys were over two times as likely to be suspended as their peers of Asian descent. By the government's logic, this means, absurdly, that school districts must be discriminating against white students and in favor of Asians. As of this writing, Minneapolis education authorities have announced their intention to end the black/white gap in suspensions and expulsions, a plan that struck many observers as announcing the imposition of quotas on school discipline.
  • [T]he Constitution was built for deliberation, not for speed. The Founding Fathers sought to create a system of checks and balances that prevents any branch of government from becoming tyrannical. The rise of czars threatens that goal. Hopefully, the political problems the czars caused President Obama mean that the American czar system will share the fate of the Russian one.