Jesse Wegman has an editorial in The New York Times about the challenges of teaching constitutional law in the current environment. This should give you a flavor of the proceedings:

Under the pretense of practicing so-called originalism, which claims to interpret the Constitution in line with how it was understood at the nation’s founding, these justices have moved quickly to upend decades of established precedent — from political spending to gun laws to voting rights to labor unions to abortion rights to affirmative action to the separation of church and state. Whatever rationale or methodology the justices apply in a given case, the result virtually always aligns with the policy priorities of the modern Republican Party.

And that has made it impossible for many professors to teach in the familiar way.

“Teaching constitutional law today is an enterprise in teaching students what law isn’t,” Leah Litman, a professor at the University of Michigan law school, told me.

Rebecca Brown, at the University of Southern California, has been teaching constitutional law for 35 years. “While I was working on my syllabus for this course, I literally burst into tears,” she told me. “I couldn’t figure out how any of this makes sense. Why do we respect it? Why do we do any of it? I’m feeling very depleted by having to teach it.”

At least she’s still trying. Larry Kramer, a widely-respected legal scholar and historian who was my constitutional law professor at N.Y.U. 20 years ago, called it quits in 2008, on the heels of the Supreme Court’s divisive decision in District of Columbia v. Heller, which struck down decades of precedent to declare for the first time that the Second Amendment protects an individual right to bear arms. Many observers felt that Heller’s majority opinion, by Justice Antonin Scalia, intentionally warped history to reach a preordained result.

Professor Kramer was the dean of Stanford law school at the time, but after the Heller ruling, he told me recently, “I couldn’t stand up in front of the class and pretend the students should take the court seriously in terms of legal analysis.” First-year law students, he felt, “should be taught by someone who still believed in what the court did.”

It’s interesting, I guess, but it would have been far more compelling if Wegman had checked in with some of the smart originalists (e.g., William Baude, Lawrence Solum) to get their take. They teach Con Law too! And we’re layering it on a little thick. It’s tough to take those sob stories seriously when literally thousands of qualified people would happily swap jobs with these professors.

UPDATE: The smart originalists have thoughts! William Baude posted an essay at Reason, basically cribbing from a paper he wrote, Teaching Constitutional Law in a Crisis of Legitimacy. You should definitely read the whole paper–it’s barely eight pages long, and characteristically insightful throughout. But if you want the top-line takeaway, here’s what Baude would have told Jesse Wegman:

There is a perception that there is something different, something more challenging, about teaching constitutional law today because the Supreme Court has been doing so many things, so quickly, that are so hard to justify.

This perception is wrong. You have always been teaching law in a time of a crisis of judicial legitimacy. The Supreme Court has never been the same thing as the Constitution. It has never been infallible at interpreting the Constitution. It has long been engaging in awe-inspiring power grabs. DobbsBruen, and Bush v. Gore have nothing on Cooper v. AaronMiranda v. ArizonaBaker v. Carr and Reynolds v. SimsGideon v. WainwrightThe School Prayer CasesThe School Busing Cases, Roe v. Wade and Planned Parenthood v. CaseyBoumediene v. Bush, and Obergefell v. Hodges. If you were asking yourself just two years ago how we can still teach our students about constitutional law . . . then you have not been teaching them very well until now.

In sum, the Court has always been making questionable calls in high-profile cases, likely for a mix of political reasons and genuine differences of opinion about the nature of the Constitution. What has really changed is not that the Court is newly imperial, or newly lawless, or newly political. What has changed is that many more folks inside the Ivory Tower have noticed, and no longer see their values and ways of thinking represented as often by the Court. That reflects a change in what the Court thinks the law is, to be sure. But it does not reflect a change in whether the Court is doing law.

. . . .

I am not naïve enough to think that the solution to the legitimacy crisis will arrive anytime soon, and indeed I can’t guarantee that anybody who needs to hear these admonitions will listen to them. But at least listen when I say this: There are lots of people, and even lots of law students, outside the bubble. And they can hear you.

Josh Chafetz also has a thoughtful thread on this that’s worth reading.