One who did excel at Tax 1

In the lead paragraph in my Washington Examiner column today I mentioned that in law school I took Tax 1 from Professor Boris Bittker. He was a fine teacher and a first-rate scholar, as I have been reminded by several email correspondents since the column appeared online. This afternoon I remembered that I had referred to Professor Bittker in an earlier Examiner article, a July 2009 cover story on Justice Clarence Thomas. Here’s the passage:


“At Yale Law School [Justice Thomas] took tax and corporation classes and did better than his detractors have suggested; tax law professor Boris Bittker every year set aside several anonymous exam bluebooks as examples of good work, and one year one of those bluebooks was Clarence Thomas’.”


This story was relayed to me by a former colleague who served on the law school’s board of visitors and heard it from Bittker, who died in 2005 at age 88.


The bottom line is that, as I said in my column, it’s not clear that Barack Obama took Tax 1, but it is clear that Clarence Thomas did. Which is interesting in light of all those politicians and political commentators who insist that Obama is very smart and Thomas is very stupid.

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