Yes, I know that I am approaching parody by including my buddy Mark Graber in every post that I have offered this week; but when he writes things like this it is just obvious to me that empirical legal scholars should know about it.
I'm more optimistic than Mark about the state of scholarship in departments of political science. In my judgment, one of the great accomplishments in the field of "Law and Courts" over the past 15-20 years has been an expansion in the range of questions and methods that are taken seriously. When I was in graduate school in the 1980s it was hard to imagine doing any work other than behavioral analysis of judicial decision making. Today, this sort of work is still alive and well, but the field has also become more sophisticated in its treatment of courts -- in part by applying rational choice models and in party by embracing more historical approaches. To put it another way, I think that those in the 1980s and early 1990s who advocated the advantages of "the new institutionalism" had a lasting effect. (I think a "regime politics" or "governing coalitions" framework is also very promising, but that remains to be seen.) I know that there are some (of the sort that Mark alluded to in his post) who are very disappointed that the flagship journals of the American Political Science Association are now publishing more historical pieces by scholars such as Keith Whittington, Paul Frymer, Cornell Clayton, and Mitch Pickerill, and they are grateful that a journal such as the AJPS has the courage and vision to resist the corrupting pressures of Perestroika. But I would hope that most scholars think that the field of Law and Courts has never been more interesting (or more relevant to the discipline as a whole), and that the path to greater progress lies in the direction of even greater diversity rather than enforced conformity to unjustifiably narrow conceptions of social science. I would just urge the ELS movement to learn this lesson more quickly than it was learned in political science. No point repeating our mistakes.