October 27, 2022

Huffman Award 2022 Recognizes Professor Schraub

Professor David Schraub is the third recipient of the Huffman Scholarship Award for his article, Sadomasochistic Judging.

Professor David Schraub is the 2022 Huffman Award recipient for his article, Sadomasochistic Judging. The Huffman Award recognizes a professor at the law school for their outstanding scholarship described in a paper that was written the year prior. The recipient is chosen by a three-member faculty committee.

Professor Schraub introduces Sadomasochistic Judging with what he dubbed a “painful truth” offered by Richard G. Kopf, a former federal judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska.

“When sentencing people, federal trial judges literally and consciously destroy lives, and most do so on a daily basis,” wrote Judge Kopf. “Those who covet a federal trial judgeship,” he continued, “should think hard about this truth before pursuing the job.”

Judge Kopf offered this story as a cautionary tale: he urges aspiring federal judges to ask themselves whether they can be “a willing judicial executioner, a person who consciously does great harm to other human beings by faithfully executing the extraordinarily harsh national criminal laws.” Yet certainly we do not want as our judges men and women who answer Judge Kopf’s question with a hearty and cheerful affirmative. Perhaps, Schraub suggests, “…the best judges are perpetually miserable.”

Professor Schraub goes on to explain a conundrum faced by all judges. As stated by the late Robert Cover in his 1986 article Violence and the Word, “judges deal pain and death.” Judges are only legitimate insofar as they subordinate their personal morals and agree to be bound by the law, even where that means enacting painful decisions. And yet, this very process of legitimation-by-pain encourages judges to not just accept, but actively favor, painful, seemingly unjust outcomes. Craving the legitimacy that painful rulings provide, judges begin to seek out such decisions in order to confirm their fidelity to law. This is the practice of “sadomasochistic judging”—judges taking perverse pleasure in the pain of causing pain to others, because only through that pain can judges be sure that they are indeed judging in accordance with law.

Professor Schraub was honored to receive the award from his peers.“The article itself… holds a very special place in my heart – even more so now because it was the first piece I published after accepting my offer to join the Lewis & Clark Law faculty.”

Schraub expressed how he is humbled to follow in the footsteps of Lisa Benjamin and Jim Oleske, both past recipients of the Huffman Award.

Schraub remarked, “I don’t think it is a coincidence that all three of us were the law school’s most recent hires the year we won this award. It really is testament to the confidence the faculty here have in their junior colleagues, and the fantastic support we receive as we grow and develop as scholars.”

David Schraub joined Lewis & Clark Law School as an assistant professor in 2021. He teaches Constitutional Law I, Constitutional Law II, and Anti-Discrimination Law. In addition to Sadomasochistic Judging, which was published in Constitutional Commentary, Professor Schraub has published articles in the California Law Review, the Southern California Law Review, the American Political Science Review, and the Association for Jewish Studies (AJS) Review, among other venues. His full list of publications can be found here.