As I noted yesterday here and at Cato at Liberty on Wednesday, GWU law prof John Banzhaf sent out a press release boasting of having assigned undergrads to lobby for NYC-style soda bans or, alternatively, other ventures in “obesity policy.” Some reactions from Robby Soave at the Daily Caller, Katharine Mangu-Ward at Reason (“I’m gonna guess there aren’t a lot of libertarians in his class”), George Leef at Phi Beta Cons, Center for Consumer Freedom (Banzhaf hoping to stir pot for high-stakes litigation), Jamie Weinstein/Daily Caller (“There are radical Pakistani madrassas that are more intellectually open than Professor Banzhaf’s class sounds,”) and on Twitter from @rogerkimball (“Where’s the outrage?”) and @keepfoodlegal (“Vile. Illegal, too?”) And Prof. Bainbridge:
I wonder what people would say if I made my students write letters to their Congressman supporting Senator Shelby’s Dodd-Frank corrections bills? Actually, I don’t wonder. they’d say I was abusing my power. And they’d be right. Only someone blinded by their own self-righteous arrogance would fail to see the gross impropriety here.
Now Banzhaf has sent out another press release, which aside from tossing an inaccurate brickbat or two at my motivations for challenging him, takes care to specify — as his earlier press release did not — that students in the class are free to propose lobbying for at least some deregulatory ideas. The two examples he gives are as follows: “students could also ask legislators to reduce limits on the sale of items from food trucks [or] cut back on unnecessary food-related regulations.” Whether liberty-minded students could actually get course credit for lobbying on behalf of food-related positions that Banzhaf opposes — as distinct from seeking out some subtopic in the field where he happens to agree with them — remains unclear.