Patterico's Pontifications


Chemerinsky: Gravely Wronged by the University of California . . . But Still a Shameless Partisan Hack Who Gets It Wrong All The Time

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 12:03 am

Erwin Chemerinsky was recently hired to head a new law school at U.C. Irvine — and now the offer has been rescinded. Here’s Brian Leiter:

About a week ago, Erwin Chemerinsky, the well-known constitutional law scholar at Duke, signed a contract to be the inaugural Dean of the new law school at the University of California at Irvine.

Yesterday, the Chancellor of the University of Ca[li]fornia at Irvine flew to Durham and fired Chemerinsky, saying that he had not been aware of how Chemerinsky’s political views would make him a target for criticism from conservatives.

This has to make the Chancellor of the University of California the biggest bonehead on the face of the planet. More on the story is available here, including a confirmation from Chemerinsky himself.

I am torn in different directions on this.

It is — at a minimum — very weaselly to sign a contract with Chemerinsky and then withdraw it. I think the reason given is complete nonsense; anyone who doesn’t understand that Erwin Chemerinsky is going to arouse conservative opposition is a numbskull. Nor do I agree with the premise that a law school dean cannot have strongly held and expressed political views. If that is the reason for rejecting Chemerinsky, that is not a valid reason to back out on a contract. I agree with John Leo, who says:

If the blog report is accurate, the treatment of Chemerinsky is a test case for conservatives who support free speech and argue vehemently against political tests for faculty and administration appointments. Do these principles apply only to conservatives, or do they protect liberals as well?

Leo is absolutely right. As Laurie Levenson notes, Ken Starr and John Eastman are deans of their respective law schools, and they have strong conservative views. If it’s OK for them to be law school deans, then it’s OK for a leftist partisan to be a law school dean too.

I agree with all that. Entirely.

And I have spoken to U.S.C. grads who took classes from Chemerinsky and said he was a good teacher.

I also think that Chemerinsky would have been good for the U.C. Irvine law school in many ways. He would have brought prestige to the school, along with, no doubt, a number of talented scholars.

But . . .

But Chemerinsky really is an intellectually dishonest weasel and a shamelessly hypocritical hack. And if the school had rejected him — not backed out of a signed contract, but simply rejected him outright — on that basis, I’d be hard pressed to get too upset about it.

It pains me to say this. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy when liberals say that I am a reasonable conservative (and many often do!). And many reasonable conservatives are praising Chemerinsky in the wake of his shabby treatment at the hands of the Chancellor. Over at the L.A. Times, Matt Welch has assembled quotes from a distinguished list of conservative commentators who defend Chemerinsky, lauding him as a reasonable guy.

The problem is, he just isn’t. I have reams of links to prove it.

On the issue of filibusters, Chemerinsky has engaged in as stunning an example of hypocrisy as you are ever likely to see from a public figure. Seriously. Click the link and read the quotes. Hugh Hewitt, who regularly has Chemerinsky on his show and is defending him now, failed to call Chemerinsky on the hypocrisy.

During the Alito hearings, Chemerinsky went on the radio to distort the facts of a controversial Alito-penned decision. He later penned a jaw-droppingly dishonest screed against Justice Alito and Roberts, prompting me to say:

The sun rose again today. The sky is still blue. Politicians are still weasels. And Erwin Chemerinsky is still being dishonest on the pages of the Los Angeles Times

Chemerinsky set himself up as an expert on the LAPD, and was just as hypocritical and deceptive in discussing those issues. It’s no surprise that he’s a big fan of convicted felon Stephen Yagman.

Chemerinsky wrote an op-ed for the Los Angeles Times on the Michael Newdow Pledge of Allegiance case — which conveniently omitted any disclosure of his own role as an advisor to Newdow on that very case. Is this the sort of honest disclosure he brings to his teaching?

What’s more, he suffers from the Laurie Levenson syndrome: by trying to be an expert on everything, he often ends up overextending himself and looking foolish — at least to people who actually know what they’re talking about. Our own Justin Levine caught him doing this in 2003, on a First Amendment issue. (Justin out-analyzed Chemerinsky again in 2004.) Chemerinsky screws up basic facts so often I once asked, with good reason: does he ever get tired of being wrong?

This is not to say that he is always dishonest or always wrong — but he sure is one or both a shockingly large percentage of the time.

Look, there are some law professors who are plenty liberal, but who nevertheless command my respect. I took Con Law from Jack Balkin of Yale (when he taught at U.T. Austin) and he’s as liberal as the day is long — but I don’t recall ever catching him being blatantly wrong, stupidly hypocritical, or shamelessly promoting a ridiculous hackish argument.

A guy like that could easily make a great dean. Chemerinsky, if his public utterances are any guide, would not — not because he is liberal, but because he is transparently hypocritical, intellectually dishonest, and consistently wrong on legal issues and issues of fact. Would you want someone like that as your dean?

57 Responses to “Chemerinsky: Gravely Wronged by the University of California . . . But Still a Shameless Partisan Hack Who Gets It Wrong All The Time”

  1. Thank You!!

    I suspect that when Chermerinsky was first floated as available, Drake got stars in his eyes. Chermerinsky has been very successful at courting the media, and so it a well known name. But he has all the failings you’ve just listed – and one that’s a pet peeve of mine.

    He took no action in the Duke rape hoax. It’s true that he didn’t sign the group of 88 ad, but neither did he sign onto any of the statements demanding due process for the students. As a “star” at Duke he could have turned the tide – but there wasn’t anything in it for him. And so he did nothing.

    Gloria Allred is widely known, too. She shouldn’t be the dean of a law school.

    R Riley (612fb6)

  2. well, i dont know the guy and am not a lawyer but if they ACTUALLY hired him, then fired him without proper cause, isnt that actionable?

    james conrad (7cd809)

  3. I don’t find Chemerinsky’s two opinion’s on filibusters all that stunning or hypocritical.

    You took two snippets from a 74 page law review article (one not even a complete sentence) where he argued that the Supreme Court could rule that the Senate rule requiring a two-thirds majority to change its own rule was unconstitutional..and compared them to a short op-ed opinion where he wrote that Dick Cheney shouldn’t get to decide what is and isn’t Constitutional.

    alphie (99bc18)

  4. James…
    Apparently, part of the deal was for Erwin to knock of the political hack stuff just lead the law school. Erwin promptly printed a few more partisan OP articles.
    We will find out more in the future as this case drags on.

    tyree (cac806)

  5. Oh, please, alphie.

    When Democrats were using the filibuster we saw this:

    Filibusters are possible because of a parliamentary rule that allows a minority of senators to keep debate open on any subject; the votes of at least 60 senators are needed to end debate. This reflects the Senate’s historic commitments to protecting minority viewpoints and encouraging consensus. Without the filibuster, 51 senators reflecting a minority of the population could pass anything and not bother to consult with the remaining senators, who represent a majority of the population. The filibuster is a key check in our system of checks and balances.

    The filibuster is as old as the Senate itself, as Sen. Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) recently noted.

    . . . .

    The president has earned the privilege of nominating federal judges. But the Republicans’ triumph on Nov. 2 does not entitle them to ignore Senate rules or to eliminate a “tradition,” which Frist describes as uniquely responsible for making the Senate “the world’s greatest deliberative body.”

    And when Republicans were using it Democrats didn’t need it, because there was a Democrat in the Oval Office, we saw this:

    The modern filibuster . . . has little to do with deliberation and even less to do with debate. The modern filibuster is simply a minority veto, and a powerful one at that. It is not part of a long Senate tradition and history alone cannot justify it. (p. 184)

    [UPDATE: I have revised the comment to make it a more accurate description of my original post. More info here.]

    Patterico (2a8eaa)

  6. Is the Univ. of Calif. crazy? We don’t need any more lawyers! Forget about Chemerinsky. Drop the law school.

    Alta Bob (0df71c)

  7. After plowing through an editorial, an op-ed, and an article in the L.A. Times this morning, all three covering the same ground in bemoaning the fact that the U.C. Irvine chancellor changed his mind about offering Erwin C. the law school deanship, I finally got to the important news: “Intersection To Be Named For Langer’s Deli Founder.”

    Troopship Berlin (56a0a8)

  8. Thank God they canned his ass! Otherwise, being so close to LA and the media market, it would be Erwin 24/7.

    dave (639416)

  9. Patterico, you’ve said exactly what I think on the issue. UC Irvine screwed up, but Chemerinsky is still a hack. I still have to turn Hewitt’s show off during the segment he appears or I’ll drive off the road. Does he still fill the Calif Bar Journal with those ridiculous screeds?

    Robin Roberts (6c18fd)

  10. All I get out of this is that the UCI Chancellor is ignorant of legal and political opinion markets, and really had no idea who Chemerinsky is, other than what he saw on the resume or support letters.

    What gets me is that he clearly made this decision alone, or in a roomful of equally ill-informed people. And when he publicly announced it, he got told by nearly everyone that he’d hired a rabid leftist who would make the new law school a lightning rod for controversy.

    So, he invented an excuse to get out of it. Clearly the chancellor should resign, being unqualified for his post, but the real issue is how this appointment was made with so little informed input. UCI really needs to look into that.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  11. I posted this thought at Captain’s Quarters last night and repeat it here, as I think it’s worth considering:

    Erwin Chemerinsky has strongly advocated that highly qualified nominees for government employment (i.e., judges) not be hired strictly because of their political views or judicial philosophies.

    Why should his own potential government employment be based on a different standard than what he himself espouses?

    I wrote more at my blog yesterday, including linking to your post of last summer about Chemerinsky’s dishonesty about Roberts and Alito:

    Best wishes,

    Laura (a27263)

  12. I was unaware that the head of an educational institution had to have strong political leanings or even should have them, not to mention outspoken ones. Perhaps they should have hired Ward Churchill, I understand he is at loose ends.

    There are limits to free speech, especially when it threatens the sanity of others within hearing distance.

    Thomas Jackson (bf83e0)

  13. i really dont know this prof or his standing in the con law world except from hugh hewitt, who is a friend of his. one thing is ABSOLUTELY clear though as i have followed the DUKE lax case very closely thru KC Johnson’s durham in wonderland blog, chemerinsky, who teaches at DUKE remained silent through out that case and thats a big NO NO.

    james conrad (7cd809)

  14. Questions for the lawyers/law profs:

    Regarding the notion of scholarship and Chemerinsky being considered a “Constitutional scholar”:

    Does methodology trump conclusions or viewpoint? This is the viewpoint of an uncle who has a Ph.D. in Social Work.

    If Chemerinsky’s conclusions in his “scholarly” works are the polar opposite of yours, why do you consider him a scholar?

    Would you say the same thing about someone who does research in the “real” sciences or mathematics?

    Is this notion of scholarship (methodology trumping conclusions) merely social lubricant in a small circle of individuals, or am I missing something?

    I am trying to understand this.

    Horatio (55069c)

  15. I don’t feel bad about it at all. Conservatives are squelched in universities every day. So, in this instance- we get to score for a change.

    John425 (eae6ea)

  16. Alta Bob (comment 6), I couldn’t agree with you more. The UCI Law School has been very controversial from the beginning. I didn’t follow the story closely enough, but my understanding is that the final decision rested solely with the UC Regents and could not be vetoed by the Governor. I read a very good editorial — maybe even in the LA Times — that argued that the money would be much better spent on a graduate nursing program rather than a law school.

    JVW (6a3590)

  17. Horatio,

    There’s certainly a more complex answer (and I’m sure Beldar and Patterico could provide it) but here’s my practical answer:

    Two lawyers can end up on opposite sides of an issue and both be scholars PROVIDED they do so in a logical manner. Chemerinsky has shown he is capable of scholarly analysis but I think he puts the result ahead of the method on some issues. We’re human so we all do that at times, but his examples are especially noticeable.

    As for a comparison to math and science, law (like medicine) is an art not a science.

    DRJ (4725f3)

  18. DRJ–

    Thanks for the reply. So I surmise that logic can lead one to two (or more) different conclusions when applied to the social “arts”.

    Is that a flaw in Aristotelian logic, or in the subject matter?


    Horatio (55069c)

  19. I.C. has creeped me out since he had the following to say about being pro-choice:

    ‘A women should be able to choose if she wants to incubate a fetus.’

    …I heard him say that once on the radio. I mean, I sort of get what he’s saying, but still… ‘incubate a fetus’? Creepy.

    David N. Scott (5986fc)

  20. I didn’t go to USC Law School, but I did take a Chemmerinsky bar prep class through Bar Bri, and he was hands down the worst lecturer in the entire program. Even worse than the trusts and wills guy, and at least Chem was teaching an interesting subject. Chem’s “teaching” style consisted of painfully bad puns (calling Griswold a “seminal” decision was his most witty moment, sadly) and horribly bad political caricature (oh, and guess which side got it worse?).

    Having said all that, its not like Chemmerinsky’s views or his teaching style were a big secret, and UCI isn’t exactly aquiting himself in how they are handling this. This is the kind of thing that would outrage me if it was done to a qualified conservative academic, so I guess I have to be outraged that it’s happening to Chemmerinsky.

    Sean P (e57269)

  21. A women should be able to choose if she wants to incubate a fetus.

    Do you suppose this attitude extends to supporting the woman’s right to choose to drink and smoke during her pregnancy? Has Chemerinsky, to anyone’s knowledge, ever mentioned anything about this?

    JVW (6a3590)

  22. …oh, but yes. It is unfair and sort of disturbing, especially if the contract was already signed.

    David N. Scott (5986fc)

  23. Honesty is the issue here and it goes beyond his consistent pattern of distorting the law. He cannot keep his promises. When he was extended the offer he promised to stop making politically charged statements. However he broke the promise almost immediately. This is consistent with what I remember him from my days at USC law school. He cannot keep his story straight.

    Firing him was absolutely the right call.

    Even the Dean of Boalt Hall concurs in the decision.

    USC Grad (c1896b)

  24. Patterico,

    The Democrats were in the minority in the Senate both in 1997 when Chemerinsky wrote the law review article and in 2004 when he wrote the L.A. Times op-ed.

    alphie (99bc18)

  25. As a part-time teacher at UC Irvine, I just learned today through the blogs about the hiring-de-hiring of Chemerinsky. I am no fan of his since he is a complete liberal, but not, in my view, a radical like Ward Churchhill.

    I suggest you check out Captains Quarters posting today on this issue. CQ questions who exactly these unnamed conservatives are that caused Drake to retract the job. I can’t believe that conservatives have such sway in the UC system.

    I would also agree that if this story is true, then Chemerinsky got screwed-but who exactly is responsible? In my view, Conservatives should not stoop to the tactics of the far-left. We should set a higher example. Besides-what’s one more liberal in the UC system?

    In the light of this controversy, Chancellor Drake should publically identify these mysterious conservatives.

    Gary Fouse

    fouse, gary c (e27ce7)

  26. USC Grad, what is the source for that claim?

    Robin Roberts (6c18fd)

  27. “USC Grad, what is the source for that claim?”

    I’m not USC Grad (although I’m a USC mom, grin), but if you’re talking about the Dean of Boalt Hall concurring with the decision, that comes from today’s L.A. Times:,1,1557790.story

    Here is the relevant section:

    “Drake drew support from Christopher Edley, dean of the Boalt Hall School of Law at UC Berkeley, whom Drake consulted on the decision to let Chemerinsky go.

    “‘It appeared to me that Michael was willing to go forward in the face of opposition but for the fact that he lost confidence in Erwin’s willingness to subordinate his autonomy and personal profile for the good of the institution,’ Edley said.

    “Edley, who worked in the Clinton administration, said it was nothing that he had not been called to do himself.

    “‘I was questioned explicitly by people who feared I would turn the deanship into a platform for my own ideological commitments,’ he said. ‘But it was clear to me then, and it’s clear to me now, that the job requires something else.'”

    Best wishes,

    Laura (56a0a8)

  28. Horatio #14 & 18 and DRJ #17:

    “You asked to become a knight, not an expert on knighthood. To train you further would make you a scholar, not a fighting man. What remains for you to learn you must learn by living and doing.”

    Yves Meynard, The Book of Knights

    nk (474afa)

  29. Thanks much, Laura. That puts a different complexion on the issue in my opinion.

    Robin Roberts (6c18fd)

  30. Patterico,

    The Democrats were in the minority in the Senate both in 1997 when Chemerinsky wrote the law review article and in 2004 when he wrote the L.A. Times op-ed.

    I don’t think you understood Mr Patterico’s point.

    Just Passing Through (cb6c8d)

  31. I don’t think so, JPT,

    Patterico is implying that the Republicans, who held a 53-47 majority in the Senate at the time Chemerinsky wrote his 1997 law review article, were using filibusters to achieve what they could achieve with a simple vote.

    I think an honest look at the 104th Congress would show that it was the Democrats who were using the threat of filibuster to thwart the Republicans from passing bills.

    And if you actually read what Chemerinsky wrote back in 1997, you’d see he writes several favorable things about filibusters (just like he wrote in his 2004 op-ed piece).

    He was against the rules of one Senate session carrying over to the next automatically.

    But, he argued that a supermajority of Senators should change that rule.

    Failing that, he laid out a detailed plan for how the Supreme Court could hear the case and how it should be argued.

    alphie (99bc18)

  32. I don’t feel bad about it at all. Conservatives are squelched in universities every day. So, in this instance- we get to score for a change.

    Nah, the two don’t cancel each other out. Chemerinsky shouldn’t have been offered the job in the first place, but once he was, they should have stuck by him until/unless he gave them a new reason not to.

    Xrlq (6c2116)

  33. Patterico is implying that the Republicans, who held a 53-47 majority in the Senate at the time Chemerinsky wrote his 1997 law review article, were using filibusters to achieve what they could achieve with a simple vote.

    I don’t see that he’s implying that at all. I don’t see any implication remotely like that in his comment #5 in this thread. I read him as explicitly saying that is dishonest to claim that filibusters are a historically proven check and balance when you are in the minority but are unjustifiable minority vetoes when you aren’t.

    You’d have to ask Mr Patterico if you don’t agree that was his explicit intent but I’m satisfied at the moment that I read him correctly. I’ll stand corrected if he says I did not.

    Just Passing Through (cb6c8d)

  34. X-

    As I understand this matter (for now), Chemerinsky gave his employer a reason to rescind the deanship by engaging in politicized debate and/or writings after he promised not to. I don’t know if that’s true, or if the expectations for his conduct were made clear, or if he breached those expectations … but it sounds like there are some missing facts we need to know.

    DRJ (8b9d41)

  35. It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy.

    Of course, if his termination is un-just, the payback would be to scrap the entire Law School (Don Bren could save his money – he might be considering that course of action anyway; and do we need more lawyers in SoCal?), fire the Chancellor, and replace him with Irwin.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  36. alphie,

    It matters not to the argument whether Cheney or the Supreme Court declared filibuster procedure unconstitutional; what we are discussing here is Chemerinsky’s blatant hypocrisy, in which *his* view of its constitutionality changed with the political winds.

    You are correct that my comment #5 misstated the point of my post on Chemerinsky’s filibuster hypocrisy. I misremembered why I considered it hypocritical.

    Basically, the point is this: in 1997, Chemerinsky had one view about the filibuster — but it wasn’t critical to the Democrats because they had a president in office who could veto unwanted legislation, and whose executive and judicial appointments would be to the Democrats’ liking.

    During the Democrats’ filibustering of Bush judicial nominees, all of a sudden the filibuster was critical to Democrats — and all of a sudden Erwin had a different view of the exact same issue.

    Patterico (2a8eaa)

  37. Come on, JPT,

    If we leave out Patterico’s unfortunate out of context half-sentence snippet, his claim of Chemerinsky’s “stunning hypocracy” on filibusters rests solely on the idea that, back in 1997, even though the Republicans held a 53-47 majority in the Senate, they were, for some bizarre reason, using filibusters instead of straight up or down votes to get their way:

    And when Republicans were using it we saw this:

    I think the facts show it was the minority Democrats who were using the filibuster to get their way in the Senate.

    alphie (99bc18)

  38. No, the point is that Erwin had one view in 1997, and then straight abandoned it in the 2000s when it was no longer convenient for Democrats.

    If you can reconcile the quotes in my previous post, go nuts. Hint: you can’t do it by blabbing about Dick Cheney and the Supreme Court.

    Patterico (2a8eaa)

  39. Oops, cross post.


    In the 1997 law review article, Chemerinsky spoke quite favorably about filibusters, and he said they weren’t unconstitutional.

    What he was against was the rule that the Senate required a supermajority to change its rules, even rules agreed to in a previous session.

    Your quote from his article:

    The modern filibuster . . . has little to do with deliberation and even less to do with debate. The modern filibuster is simply a minority veto, and a powerful one at that. It is not part of a long Senate tradition and history alone cannot justify it. (p. 184)

    was an argument to be used to overcome the idea that the Supreme Court wouldn’t intrvene in longstanding traditions in the “political side” of the government.

    He was saying it had changed enough over the years that the court could take a look at it.

    Mild hypocrasy, maybe, but not stunning.

    As a non-lawyer, I enjoyed reading his arguments, btw.

    alphie (99bc18)

  40. alphie,

    Does Erwin C. think that the filibuster is part of a long Senate tradition?

    Does he think it’s constitutional for the Senate to change its own rules to eliminate the requirement for a supermajority?

    Depends on the year, don’t it?

    Patterico (2a8eaa)

  41. Haha,

    I think whether a tradition has changed enough for the Supreme Court could examine it or not is a different standard than whether it is still a “tradition” or not.

    He thought it was Constitutional for a supermajority to change the rules…no matter what the year.

    alphie (99bc18)

  42. Good God, you are dense.

    JD (f6a000)

  43. alphie,

    You didn’t answer the questions I actually asked. Just so you know, we noticed.

    Patterico (ec61aa)

  44. Patterico,

    In his 1997 law review article, Chemerinsky noted that the Democrats had had the opportuninity to change the rules “nuclear option” style when they were in the majority, V.P.s Nixon and Humphrey? had offered them the chance, and both times they had refused to do it.

    Which in no way makes the main point of his 2004 op-ed where you claim he was being hypocritical…hypocritical:

    The nuclear option’s major problem is that it is a cynical exercise of raw power and not based on constitutional principle or precedent. There is no precedent for amending Senate rules without following the rules. Whenever the Senate has amended its rules it has done so in accordance with its rules. The Republicans’ own experts conceded as much in hearings last year.

    alphie (99bc18)

  45. Chemerinsky shouldn’t have been offered the job in the first place, but once he was, they should have stuck by him until/unless he gave them a new reason not to.

    What is it about academics that they want so many job protections. He hadn’t signed a final contract, hopefully he hadn’t quit his current job. To me, the real world is full of jobs you can get fired from (I’m looking at you, tenure) and things that don’t pan out even after it seems like they are going to.

    If they didn’t want him, when would it have been ok to fire him?

    MayBee (965796)

  46. ps. Isn’t it a tad bit controversial to hire as your Dean one of the lawyers that represented a lawsuit to sue the current Vice President of the US (Plame)? It’s a public school!

    MayBee (965796)

  47. Alphie falling for Chemerinsky’s nonsense is a good example of what I dislike about Chemerinsky, he intentionally mixes the roles of law professor and political partisan to cloak his partisan screeds with the false patina of scholarly work. It fools the uninformed into thinking that they are reading honest legal reasoning when they are not.

    Robin Roberts (6c18fd)

  48. Who said I believed any of Chemerinsky’s “nonsense” Robin?

    I was just checking to see if he had been hypocritical.

    Doesn’t look like it to me.

    alphie (99bc18)

  49. You are 100% right about this — in fact you are too kind to Chemerinsky and you under play how ruinous it is for Universities to employ people like this in positions of power. The guy is 100% a dishonest partisan who bends the truth and the rules for the advantage of “his team”. It’s bad for education and bad for America when these guys take over an institution. There is nothing about “academic” freedom or a belief in intellectual diversity which gives reason to employ a bad apple like this in an administrative position.

    PrestoPundit (a2369b)

  50. Nailed it P. Much more nuanced than much of the other coverage found on this issue (both in the tradional media and in other blogs).

    Only sorry that the SoCalLawBlog archives are no longer on-line to revisit Erwin C’s shoddy libel analysis (no doubt inspired by the fact that Arnold Schwarzenegger was running for office under a Republican label).

    Justin Levine (56a0a8)

  51. Justin,

    Is this what you are looking for?

    alphie (99bc18)

  52. God you’re good at those Internet searches, alphie.

    You’d make one hell of an internet researcher.

    Christoph (92b8f7)

  53. UC Irvine and the Chemerinsky Fiasco

    Since I work as a part-time teacher at UC Irvine, I am taking an interest in the affair over the hiring and de-hiring of law professor, Erwin Chemerinsky. In terms of background, Chemerinsky, a noted liberal law professor, currently at Duke, was recently offered the job as Dean of the UC Irvine Law School, which is in the process of being established. The position was offered by UCI Chancellor Michael Drake. Then, just a few days ago, Drake rescinded the hire, reportedly telling Chemerinsky that certain conservative figures were raising strenuous opposition. (I wish to note that I am in no way speaking for UCI in this posting. I am not a full-time hire, and I teach on a quarterly contract in the University Extension (ESL). I speak only for myself.)

    Today, with anger mounting over the affair, Drake under attack, and possible implications for freedom of speech within the UC system, both Chemerinsky and Drake wrote pieces in the LA Times stating their respective positions. According to Chemerinsky, Drake told him that he was being forced to retract the hire due to extreme negative reaction from (unnamed) conservatives (I am paraphrasing.) Drake, in his article, (again paraphrasing) maintained that he made a management decision, which was free of any political influence. Beyond that, Drake did not settle the questions lingering over the incident.

    So the question that is hanging out there is this: Who are these “unnamed conservatives” who allegedly put pressure on Drake to drop the hiring of Chemerinsky? I am certainly no insider at UCI, but to me, it would seem surprising that conservatives had so much influence at a UC campus. Outside of me, I don’t know many people at UCI that could be truly called conservatives, at least not of my ilk, and I know it wasn’t me that put the arm on Drake. I don’t even know the gentleman. Besides, what’s one more liberal in the UC system? There are other professors far more radical than Chemerinsky, so many, in fact, that there is standing room only. If Chemerinski is correct, then I think it would be fitting if Chancellor Drake publicaly identified the “conservatives” in question who forced him to withdraw the job.

    That leads to the next question: Was it right that Chemerinsky’s hiring be rescinded because he is a liberal? I know a lot of conservatives like myself who have no sympathy for the man and take the attitude that for once, a liberal got screwed. I have a little bit different take. First of all, I have seen and heard Chemerinsky speak on TV and radio many times. He is certainly liberal, and I disagree with most of what I have heard him say. As David Horowitz described him, he is sort of an Alan Colmes-type liberal. He is certainly no Ward Churchhill. Would he have been my choice for Law School Dean? Obviously not. But that is not the point. In my view, we as conservatives should not engage in the tactics of the far-left; that is to railroad and bring down those with whom we disagree. That means not trying to scuttle someone’s job. Doing so should be reserved for extreme cases of people who are not qualified, have misrepresented their qualifications or would bring disrepute to the university. In my view, Ward Churchhill fits into that category, but Erwin Chemerinsky does not.

    I hope for the sake of UCI that this issue sees the full light of day. For the most part, UCI is a fine academic school with students that are overwhelmingly serious and a pleasure to be around. In recent years, the school has aroused a lot of negative publicity due to the agitation of the Muslim Student Union and their hate-filled invited speakers. Now it seems that UCI must undergo some further embarrassment. But that’s ok. I am the one always saying that light should be shone on our nation’s universities when they fail to live up to their own standards.

    gary fouse

    fouse, gary c (e27ce7)

  54. One consideration that seems to have slipped by is that the position is that of inaugural dean of the Law School. That means extra responsibility in student and faculty recruiting, fundraising and navigating some important hurdles regarding accreditation and acceptance of the inaugural classes for admission to the state Bar. A politically active (or even politically controversial) dean could have a negative impact on any or all of these areas.

    kishnevi (ef1d3c)

  55. Even if Chemerinsky was a conservative, a libertarian or any other “ism” he still should have been fired because fundamentally the guy is a dishonest political hack, first and foremost a partisan who changes his arguments depending on how they effect “his team”. I don’t want any conservatives with these characteristics in academic power — I don’t want anyone with these characteristics in academic power. And I certainly don’t want a lefty with these characteristics — although I would argue that as a matter of theoretical commitment leftists stand opposed to principle and in favor of expediency, so you find many, many more of this type on the left than you do elsewhere. There’s a nice article on this topic by Friedrich Hayek, which I recommend to all.

    PrestoPundit (a2369b)

  56. […] a telling fact about legal professors that this often dishonest, often wrong, and always partisan lefty hack is considered a highly respected member of the […]

    PrestoPundit » Blog Archive » “leftist hypocrisy degrade everything it touches” (d881ce)

  57. […] Yes, pressuring the gits at Irvine was the right thing to do, and we must do the right thing. (Don’t worry, I haven’t taught law school in seven years.) But not for Erwin Chemerinsky’s sake. Rather, despite it. […]

    Bulldozer’s progress redux « Likelihood of Success (a27eed)

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