The First Amendment — or the Eighth and Fifth?

California is endlessly entertaining. Consider the Southern California Institute of Law, which, in February, filed a lawsuit in federal court against its accreditor, which requires as a condition of accreditation that, on its website, SCIL provide a link to a page indicating the bar-passage rate of its graduates.

Now, you cannot blame the SCIL for fighting this requirement. In 2012, not one of the 43 graduates of the school who took the California bar examination managed to pass; and, in the years stretching from 2007 to 2012, the failure rate was 93%. According to Jonathan Adler at the Volokh Conspiracy,

The school argues — in a federal lawsuit filed February — that the rule infringes on its speech rights. It claims that it forces them to endorse the notion that a school’s exam passage rate reflects the quality of its legal education. SCIL thinks one has nothing to do with the other.

“[D]efendants have no right to foist their ideology onto SCIL and compel it to refer or disclose bar passage rates of its graduates,” the school stated in a legal brief last week. . . .

“There are good years, and there are bad years when it comes to bar passage,” said SCIL’s attorney, George Shohet. “It’s not something that the school can control.” He said going to law school and passing the bar require “different skill sets.”

Now, I am not a lawyer. So, I will readily confess that I lack the sophistication to understand this argument. If truth be told, I glory in this particular lack of sophistication.

Methinks, however, that SCIL would be on stronger grounds were it to appeal to the Fifth and Eighth Amendments. It really is cruel and unusual punishment to expect such an institution to incriminate itself.

But, perhaps, the lawyers in our midst can correct my misapprehension.