Doug Kmiec writes that his former student, Amy Coney, "deftly answered" questions about the Rule Against Perpetuities.


The Rule of Perpetuities is the bane of all property students. I teach it, but do not test it. But, it seems that at least one law student excelled with RAP, as it is known.

Professor Doug Kmiec taught Amy Coney property as a 1L at Notre Dame. He recalls her excellent class performance:

I was privileged to teach Amy Coney Barrett in her first year of law school at Notre Dame. Then, as now, she displayed determination and intellectual preparation over many areas of law. I recall during one discussion about the rule against perpetuities in a property law class, when many students wanted to avoid participation, her hand popped up and she deftly answered a battery of textbook applications before suggesting, respectfully, how the casebook author missed an aspect of the problem. Students everywhere delight in besting the teacher, but her discernment was so unpretentious, persuasive and clear that it drew admiration from the entire class.

Judge Barrett's demeanor during law school reflects her demeanor during the hearing: "[Nominees] everywhere delight in besting the [Senators], but her discernment was so unpretentious, persuasive and clear that it drew admiration from the entire [Congress]."

Brava! Every now and then a student finds an error in my textbook. I always celebrate the occasion, and praise the student.

NEXT: Cop's Libel Claim Over Amazon-Distributed Free Meek Documentary Can Go Forward

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. And here I thought Trump’s toadies had set the bar too high for anyone else to suck up at that level, but I was wrong.

    1. Article timestamp: 3:46pm
      Snarky comment timestamp: 3:50pm

      The JDS around here is reaching epic proportions.

      1. Pure happenstance, just when I happened to come across it.

        1. We don’t want to hear about your disgusting personal habits.

  2. The student becomes the master.

  3. I find this series of comments interesting. I never spend much time with incels before.

    1. Or indeed anyone else apart from your mum since by now they’d have to demolish part of the basement for you to get out.

    2. As if anyone else here actually believes that you aren’t one of the incels.

    3. The incel doth protest too much, methinks.

  4. This says more about the intellectual level of law students than it does about Barrett.

    Soon we’ll learn from Blackman that she was far better at drawing than anyone else in her kindergarten class.

    1. This was my thought. There’s really nothing difficult about the RAP.

      1. Do the new lease clauses which lenders require in ground leases violate the RAP? There is considerable debate among practitioners, but apparently this is not a difficult question for some. (For those who don’t know, the new lease clause states that if the lease is terminated on account of a default of tenant bankrupcty, the lessor will give the leasehold mortgagee a new lease on the same terms.)

  5. It’s embarrassing that the California Supreme Court considered lawyers immune from damages arising from screwing up the RAP ( Lucas v. Hamm, 1961), and it’s embarrassing that Josh considers it too hard for students to learn. We lawyers create harsh rules for others but let ourselves off easy. Luke 11:46.

    The RAP isn’t that hard to learn. The problem is that overcompressed one-sentence definition formulated by John Chipman Gray which is shot at 1L’s like an Aroldis Chapman fastball. My own property professor explained it in five easygoing, understandable sentences. At no point is the gap between the smugness of lawyers and the harm they do to their clients more apparent.

    1. My mastery of the rule against perpetuities began in law school, when I concluded I would not focus on wills and should never dabble with them. I did not take estates and trusts. I have never written a will and expect I never will.

      1. But where there’s a will there’s a way.

        1. Calling the estates and trusts section was always the right way, in my experience.

  6. I bet that Justice Barrett will spend 30+ years on the Supreme Court without EVER opining on the Rule Against Perpetuties.

    1. True.

      Though “perpetuity” will probably describe her tenure on the court.

      Imagine in the year 2060 (at age 88) she will still be railing against gay marriage, from the Supreme Court’s hermetically sealed satellite, looking down on an Ocean Earth made uninhabitable due to the complete melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice caps.

      1. And all that will be God’s vengence upon the Earth for allowing same sex marriage, at least according to ACB

        1. Serves hypothetical Judge Barrett right for failing to stop climate change.

          1. Actually a good guess. She will continue to deny that it is man-made and will block regulations designed to stop it.

      2. ” Imagine in the year 2060 (at age 88) she will still be railing against gay marriage, ”

        If that occurs, I hope I am still calling her a superstitious bigot.

        1. You call everyone that. It’s what makes you the bigot.

          1. Are you going to try to explain away her bigoted record (director of gay-bashing schools, enthusiastic member of gay-bashing organizations), pretend it doesn’t exist, or stick with your ‘nah, nah, you’re the real bigot’ line?

            It doesn’t much matter. She will be confirmed. Then she will become part of a minority bloc. America will continue to progress. The clingers will continue to get stomped in the culture war. By their betters.

            1. You may be right, Kirkland. Court packed, states added, the power of the progressive left consolidated until there is no political or institutional opposition to speak of. But you don’t actually think you will be tallied amongst our “betters,” do you? In single-party systems, useful idiots end up in the gulags with everyone else. If you get what you woke-pray* for, I don’t think you’ll see 2060.

              *woke-praying is like regular praying, but totes not stale-thinking, irrational middle-America clinger bigotry.


  7. I hope ACB has some people reading the internet to see what people are saying to alert her that she should get a restraining order on Blackman. This is dangerously obsessive.

    1. Are you kidding? The kid’s a disciple — right up her right-wing alley. She’ll likely hire him as a clerk unless sweet infant Jesus counsels her toward a different direction.

  8. “ but her discernment was so unpretentious, persuasive and clear that it drew admiration from the entire class.”

    Yes. All law students look upon the gunner and think,”How unpretentious. I admire that. I mean, the gunner is doing is all a service, really. Should probably rescue the class.”

    I look forward to more completely true stories by Josh Blackman.

    1. This does make it pretty clear that law professors actually like the gunners, regardless of what the rest of the class thinks, though. I’d have thought the behavior was pretty annoying to the profs as well, but apparently they find it a sign of quality.

  9. I remember learning the RAP in law school. I actually thought it was kinda fun.

Please to post comments