Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Not Coming to UCI Law: Erwin Chemerinsky

A couple weeks ago I was disappointed to learn that far-left liberal law professor Erwin Chemerinsky was the lead candidate to be the first dean of the new law school at the University of California, Irvine.

Chemerinsky, who was a longtime professor at the USC law school, has been teaching at Duke University the last few years.

Now comes word that UCI recently hired Chemerinsky, and then turned around and let him go yesterday because the Chancellor suddenly realized Chemerinsky's overt political views would be a target for criticism. (Hat tip: Instapundit.)

Chemerinsky confirms to the Wall Street Journal's legal blog that he was unhired. He said, "I’ve been a liberal law professor for 28 years... I expected there would be some concern about me. My hope was that I’d address it by making the law school open to all viewpoints."

Some comments at the WSJ site, which are purportedly from Duke Law students, indicate Chemerinsky may not have been open to all viewpoints in his classes.

While I agree these events make UCI look bad in the sense that they seem to have been clueless about who they were hiring, I think this reversal ultimately was a positive move by UCI, and very unexpected considering the campus is widely considered to be a liberal "sea of blue" in relatively conservative Orange County. Hopefully the university will hire someone who is more interested in training lawyers to follow the law than in attempting to have new law created through judicial decisions.

More from Thomas Lifson at American Thinker.

Update: Professor Bainbridge weighs in, and the L.A. Times now has a story on their website.

More from the Orange County Register.

Late Update: Hugh Hewitt has been ranting that UCI is indulging in government censorship, not hiring Chemerinsky because of what he believes. The irony in that statement is that Chemerinsky regularly advocates that exact kind of government censorship, working to prevent strict constructionist judges, who believe in closely adhering to written laws, from being confirmed to their positions -- because of what they believe.

Hugh also said that he does believe in universities firing liars like Ward Churchill. This Patterico post, quoting Chemerinsky on Justices Roberts and Alito, suggests to me that Chemerinsky and the truth do not always walk hand in hand.


Blogger Dana said...

Frankly, Laura, I'm rather surprised that UCI reneged on the offer. I don't think that his politics should determine whether he assumes the position or not, otherwise you're treading into questionable turf. OTH, its amazing to see a university make a stand not in favor of someone like EC.

I would love to hear the bottom line of why he wasn't hired.

10:07 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

"I don't think that his politics should determine whether he assumes the position or not, otherwise you're treading into questionable turf."

Hi Dana! Normally I'd tend to agree, as this kind of thing can also go against conservatives -- who of course have been quietly and not-so-quietly blacklisted in some departments of state universities for years. But, as I mentioned as a postscript, I find it so ironic that Chemerinsky has worked so hard to prevent qualified judges from taking jobs simply because of their beliefs, and now he finds himself hoisted on his own petard, so to speak (grin).

The idea that a UC school would find someone too liberal is pretty amazing...but I found it refreshing that they would (belatedly) recognize maybe they needed someone more "fair and balanced." (Though you've got to wonder at UCI's unprofessional lack of vetting before he was offered the job.) As you say, it would be fascinating to hear the full story. There must be more to it, given he was being hired by an institution not known for shirking the hiring of liberals...

Best wishes,

11:15 PM  

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