Class of 2019 v. Impending Graduation
889 U.Va. 13 (2019)
VanderMeulen, C. J., announced the opinion of the Court in which Hopkin, Malkowski, and Dostal, JJ., joined. Jani, J., filed a dissenting opinion.
Chief Justice VanderMeulen, one final time, for the Court.
The sudden realization that they must graduate in three months’ time swept through the 3L class this week, leading members of that class to file a suit seeking to enjoin said graduation and the final exams preceding it. Plaintiff class complains its members “aren’t ready at all to take finals,” “have ZERO idea what the bar exam even is,” and “can’t go on without Mandy in [their] lives.”
This case comes to us on appeal from the Court of Petty Complaints, where Judge Joby dismissed plaintiffs’ complaint, writing, “You kids are really sweet, but it’s time you got out there into the world and started donating to the Law School.” We now affirm.
All good things must come to an end. See, e.g., Lunchtime. But see, e.g., Libel—which never, in fact, ends. So it must be with the Class of 2019’s time at the University of Virginia School of Law. Plaintiffs—112 members of the 3L class, not including JD/MBAs—complain that the end of law school and coming of such awful things as finals, the graduation reception’s “summer cocktail attire,” and a mind-numbing summer filled with no-drinks bar review entitles them to an injunction against this parade of horribles.
Plaintiffs must have hired Professor Jeffries to be their lawyer or something because they make a whole lot of claims about declaratory relief and use the word “equitable” a lot. Fed Courts was scary so I don’t remember a lot of that and will just pretend I didn’t read it. The other thing plaintiffs talk about is due process and I do know that, thank goodness.
They claim that graduation being foisted upon them is a violation of the Fifth Amendment right to due process. In support of that proposition, they cite Ballenger v. 2Ls, 645 U.Va. 1 (1994), in which this Court held that 2Ls can’t be made to go through OGI without some kind of hearing and a right to “cry their little hearts out,” and Haden v. Lisa, 778 U.Va. 888 (2015), in which the Court declared the end of sweet snacks in the Snack Office a cognizable loss for which plaintiffs could sue.
Plaintiffs misread our precedents. While it is true that no one can be forced to interview for jobs without being given a hearing, a proper hankie, and a shoulder “of ample width” to cry on, there can be no analogy between OGI and graduation. Defendant Graduation, represented by Deans Goluboff, Kendrick, Davies, and Donovan (aka the Four Horsemen), insists that while OGI is “optional,” there is in fact “no place to put you if you don’t graduate” and “this is all very silly.” Much though it pains us to agree with the literal embodiment of evil, we must agree with the Four Horsemen. Post-law-school summer life sounds pretty not fun, we agree. And none of the 3L members of this Court are ready to be real adults yet; Justice Malkowski informs us that the post-law-school TV-watching environment is very bleak indeed.
But the Four Horsemen make a good point: They did send that “Apply for Graduation” email notifying all 3Ls of the need to, in their words, “get the hell out of here and into some kind of livelihood for once in your life.” The email may not have been very long; it certainly wasn’t very interesting. But we find that the cursory “apply for graduation” email suffices for process allotted to plaintiffs before their dreams were seized from them.
Besides, not everyone is sad to graduate. Amici calling themselves “THree-Els Enjoying Nearing Doom” posit to us that they “can’t wait to leave this hellhole” and that they’re “really over seeing Vineyard Vines shit.” With such a divide in the 3L class, we cannot in good conscience rule that a group of sentimental slackers like plaintiffs needn’t graduate.
The lower court’s ruling is AFFIRMED.
Also, this is my final decision as Chief Justice. I have been unceremoniously deposed from the bench by a rowdy, irreverent bunch of 2Ls. They’ve forced me into early retirement without even a ceremonial gavel to show for it. Protest letters may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is so ordered.
Justice Jani, dissenting.
I dissent from my colleague’s trauma-addled decision. The Court accuses plaintiffs of misreading our precedents, but it is they who have misconstrued our august decisions. How could the Court forget SBA v. NGSL, 445 U.Va. 256 (1993), which held that softball season may not be cancelled without paying the student body in kegs for their loss? Or Roberts v. Scott, 598 U.Va. 100 (1998), which declared “fundamental” the right to a hearing before the administration could censor Libel productions?
I can reach no other conclusion than that my Brother VanderMeulen and his cronies do not, in fact, lament their fast-approaching graduation, but in fact that they relish it, the sick fiends. Personally, as a Darden student, I will be here another year, so I needn’t yet face the black abyss of existential dread my colleagues now feel. And when I do, there will be plenty of Xanax and expensive liquor to get me through it.
Accordingly, I dissent.