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We Conservatives Must Be Heavy:

As best I can count, the conservative faculty at Harvard consists of John Manning, Adrian Vermeule, Jack Goldsmith, Charles Fried, plus (probably) Einer Elhauge, Bill Stuntz, Mary Ann Glendon, Kip Viscusi, and a few others, amounting to perhaps 15 members of an 81-member tenure ladder faculty. If Harvard Law School is "listing" (I take in the sense of "leaning") "right" because of them, then I'm pleased to hear how weighty each of them must be.

HLS '05:
"We" conservatives? I didn't think that's a label you'd usually embrace -- that must be how you get to "perhaps 15" -- a number that I think is hard to defend with any conventional definition of "conservative."
11.30.2005 2:42pm
Medis:
Hmm ... my guess is that "Listing Slightly Less to the Left than Before" got edited down.
11.30.2005 2:44pm
Christopher M (mail):
"To list" means not only "to lean" but also "to tilt," and there's a subtle distinction in standard usage. "Leaning" implies an absolute frame of reference -- "leaning right" would mean more right than left. But "tilting" can also imply a relative frame of reference. Something can be "leaning left" but very slowly "tilting right" without approaching nearly the 50% mark.

In short, "Listing Slightly Less to the Left than Before" is not necessary, because "listing right" is a perfectly fine way of saying that. (I mean, apart from the fact that "list" is a quirky word choice to begin with.)
11.30.2005 2:50pm
Alex R:
I'm curious about a couple of things....

(1) Considering that many (most?) faculty members wouldn't necessarily be pegged as left or right, how many of the existing faculty would you list as "left" or "liberal"? After all, if the split isn't 15-70, but instead 15 right, 50 "center" or "non-ideological", and 20 left, faculty look much more balanced.

(2) If we exclude "legacy" faculty from the list, but instead look only at those hired recently -- say, during the tenure of the current dean who is the subject of the Observer article -- what kind of numbers would you get?
11.30.2005 3:00pm
anonymoose (mail):
I'd be more impressed if any of your listed conservatives had donated money to a conservative campaign.

Using OpenSecrets, I searched for the names above in MA explicitly to obvious no avail (some had multiple entries, but nobody looked likely, but I confess I might have overlooked someone), then did a quick search for 'Harvard Law', coming up with 97 entries, all Democrats or affiliated (Emily's List) groups.

OpenSecrets Search
11.30.2005 3:03pm
Fenno:
I believe that the rumor that Charles Fried is a conservative (and not merely a "Republican") is still unconfirmed at best.
11.30.2005 3:06pm
Kate1999 (mail):
I think it's more accurate to say that the harvard law faculty has five on the right (including 3 recent additions), 10 in the center-right, 20 center-left, and about 55 on the left.
11.30.2005 3:07pm
Fishbane:
Are you calling them fat?
11.30.2005 3:07pm
Medis:
Hmm ... I think that might be true of "tilting right" but not "listing right". The relevant definitions of "to list" I have seen do incorporate an absolute frame of reference (so it will be defined as something like "an inclination to one side" or "a departure from the vertical"). The fact that "to tilt" can mean something different just suggests to me that "tilting" and "listing" are not perfect synonyms.
11.30.2005 3:11pm
Doug Sundseth (mail):
As noted above, "listing" is most commonly used in reference to ships, and only when they are not on an "even keel".

I might recommend:

"Harvard Law School is Righting Itself"

which is both metaphorically correct and a fairly clever pun*.

* Even if I do say it as shouldn't.
11.30.2005 3:57pm
Guest2 (mail):
PHONE MAN: All right, Miss Benes, all finished. Here's your new number.

ELAINE: Ahem. 646? What is this?

PHONE MAN: That's your new area code.

ELAINE: I thought 646 was just for new numbers.

PHONE MAN: This is a new number.

ELAINE: No, no, no, no. It's not a new number. It's - it's - it's just a changed number, see? It's not different. It's the same, just . . . changed.

PHONE MAN: Look, I work for the phone company. I've had a lot of experience with semantics, so don't try to lure me into some maze of circular logic.

(from Seinfeld episode 175, "The Maid")
11.30.2005 4:02pm
Guest565 (mail):
Honey, does this ideology make me look fat?
11.30.2005 4:17pm
HLS '05:
Anonymoose - HLS prof Hal Scott (not mentioned in Eugene's post) contributed to President Bush's 2000 presidential campaign in 1999.
11.30.2005 5:02pm
Steve:
If you're not conservative, then gosh, you must be liberal. More of this simplistic red state-blue state silliness in which we insist on dividing up the entire country into two warring camps.

I had some liberal professors in law school, and some conservative ones. I would not have the slightest idea of the ideological leanings of the vast majority, and if they teach the material in a neutral way, I don't see why anyone should care if they voted for Bush or Kerry.

It's amazing how conservatives ridicule the idea that a shortage of, say, women in the academy represents a problem that we should seek to remedy, but when there is a purported shortage of conservatives, oh no, there must be invidious discrimination behind it!
11.30.2005 5:15pm
Fishbane:
It's amazing how conservatives ridicule the idea that a shortage of, say, women in the academy represents a problem that we should seek to remedy, but when there is a purported shortage of conservatives, oh no, there must be invidious discrimination behind it!

That is just the DeLay rule. Loyalty above principle. I'm having trouble finding it, but Volokh wrote on the concept at length a while back - the general idea is supporting the party that generally gives you what you want even when they're working against what you think is right is a successful strategy. It also suggests why he's become so much less libertarian over time.

It also explains why we now have Ney, Abramoff, DeLay, Frist, those clowns in Ohio (CoinGate), etc.
11.30.2005 5:27pm
Aaron:
Why do we care if professors are liberal or conservative? I just want them to be intelligent and inspiring...

Who am I kidding. The more conservative law professors we have, the fewer are available for the Federal bench! Keep on hiring, Dean Kagan.
11.30.2005 5:30pm
Justin (mail):
"I think it's more accurate to say that the harvard law faculty has five on the right (including 3 recent additions), 10 in the center-right, 20 center-left, and about 55 on the left."

I can't think of 55 law professors on the left, Leiter is at Texas. Kennedy is at NYU. Moglen is at Columbia. MacKinnon rotates between Chicago and Michigan. Horwitz is at Michigan.

All I can come up with at the top of my head is Unger.

At Columbia, which is arguably the most liberal faculty in the first tier (and obviously more liberal than Harvard), I come up with

Left: Franke, Moglen, Thomas

Center-left: Barenberg, Crenshaw, Liebman (James), Sanger

This is probably the result of the fact that we are a country with a party whose philosophy is "centrist" (based on the traditional theory of the term, and global academic worldview) and a party that is somewhere between "right" and "center-right". It is hardly unexpected that the real lack of scholarship from this country comes from the left, who have been rooted out, attacked as communists and socialists by idiot groups such as YAF, and whose views so clearly contrast the mainstream political thought (Moglen's class was considered a circus because of the way it challenged traditional orthadoxy).

I mean, if you want to label "left" as anyone who opposed the Iraqi war, thinks Rawls is mainstream, and believes in the Hart and Sacks process of legal interpretation, then yea. If you believe that "left" incorporates anyone who doesn't believe in the supremacy of the master race, then law schools lack a SINGLE centrist or right-winged thinker. But keep in mind you are radically shifting the tone of the debate to something where you simply win by definition, not by empirical analysis.
11.30.2005 5:47pm
dellis (mail) (www):
That's just an embarassment. And there are really no excuses for having so few conservatives. I understand it in undergrad sociology departments, but at law school it's plain and simple discrimination.

I think most importantly, it's just an issue of receiving a less interesting education. I'm at UVA Law, where we have an equal number of contributors to Democratic and REpublican campaigns among the faculty, and my classes on a day to day basis are much more interesting because of it. Administrative law is portrayed from a Democratic perspective, but antitrust is portrayed from a republican perspective. this is an important diveristy of opinion, and I am the direct beneficiary, and it will make me a better lawyer to understand the different complexions and interpretations of the law.

I don't understand why HLS thinks otherwise.
11.30.2005 6:04pm
DJ (mail):
Since when has Vermeule been at Harvard? Last I heard, he was still at Chicago. And he's not on the Harvard faculty directory as far as I can see. Does Prof. Volokh know something the rest of us don't?
11.30.2005 6:13pm
DJ (mail):
Ah, I'm told Vermeule's been visiting at Harvard this year and is under consideration for an appointment. From the tenor of Prof. Volokh's post, it sounds like Vermeule got an offer and accepted. Am I wrong?
11.30.2005 6:20pm
DJ (mail):
Mystery solved! I've actually now read the NY Observer article, and it sounds like Vermeule got the Harvard nod. Another huge loss for Chicago, if you ask me.
11.30.2005 6:32pm
Niels Jackson (mail):
Justin --

You don't think Duncan Kennedy, Randall Kennedy, Gerry Frug, Christine Desan, Jon Hanson, Janet Benshoof, et al., are on the left? Even if you think that one has to be an outright Communist/socialist to count as being the "left," you'd still be wrong in pointing only to Unger.

Either you're using a very idiosyncratic definition of "left," or you just aren't familiar with the HLS faculty.
11.30.2005 6:39pm
Kate1999 (mail):
Justin,

Are self-described crits on the left, in your view? How would you classify Terry Fisher, Duncan Kennedy, Mort Horwitz, Joe Singer, Martha Minow, etc? Do you think that they are "centrists"?

Also, it seems to me that Roberts and Alito are classic Hart/Sacks legal process types -- see Alito's quiestionarire today -- so I don't think legal process is the mark of someone on the left these days.
11.30.2005 6:42pm
Cecilius:
Although I'm aware of complaints that conservatives have (perhaps until recently) been largely shut out of academia due to their political leanings, it's tough to rally around the cause. Sure, it's nice if these alleged hiring blocks are being lifted, but as a recent graduate, I'll take 81 liberal law professors who taught their subjects well without voicing ideological positions in class. That's overlooked when people count the number of liberals and conservatives. Some of my favorite professors (when you drank a few beers with them outside of class) were overwhelming, unrepentant, hard-core left-wingers. And they did a great job on showing both sides of every issue from abortion to product liability suits. Few students could accurately gauge their political beliefs or prior positions (some worked for corporations, some for liberal-leaning public interest groups) based on their class presentations. It shouldn't be lost in all the head-counting that this is the ideal. I would be livid if any professor used their classroom lectures as a forum for pro-Bush/ pro-Republican/ pro-libertarian lectures no matter how much I agreed with them. If I want politics, I'll go find it for free on the Internet. Not in a law school where I was paying (and will continue to pay through student loans) tens of thousands of dollars. I'm happy that the Mannings and Epsteins of the world can teach in peace. But I'd be just as happy with the Trotskyite who taught me how to be a good lawyer no matter what they believed in.
11.30.2005 7:12pm
Disenfranchised Jets Fan (mail):
Ugh, as a UVA grad I'm so sorry HLS stole Stuntz. The guy was a great professor and scholar....as far as I am concerned we can keep the moonbats in Cambridge as long as we get the true intellectuals in Charlottesville, the real flagship university of the U.S.
11.30.2005 8:01pm
Justin (mail):
"Kennedy is at NYU" "Horwitz is at Michigan" (sorry about the typo). "All I can come up with at the top of my head is Unger"

No, clearly by listing them as leftists I don't think they were leftists, and my list was hardly meant to be complete. But that you guys can only name a handful of others in a list that you seem to believe is complete proves the point I was trying to make.

Minnow is not a liberal.

How serious am I supposed to take you guys if, obvious typo aside, you guys can't even read?
11.30.2005 8:23pm
Justin (mail):
Correction. Minnow is not a leftist (she'd be either center or center left, depending on your definition).
11.30.2005 8:23pm
Justin (mail):
Correction. Minnow is not a leftist (she'd be either center or center left, depending on your definition).
11.30.2005 8:23pm
Niels Jackson (mail):
Justin -- Her name is "Minow." And I wasn't trying to make a complete list, just giving a few very obvious and indisputable examples of left-wing HLS faculty members. There are many more. (But you already know that, right? That is, if you're at all familiar with the HLS faculty.)
11.30.2005 9:21pm
B:
"At Columbia, which is arguably the most liberal faculty in the first tier (and obviously more liberal than Harvard)..."

As a conservative law student-to-be who chose Columbia over HLS (for various reasons), this post was somewhat surprising and troubling. None of the students or lawyers I've spoken with cited Columbia's faculty as any further to the left than that of its peers--is Justin's opinion of CLS prevalent within Ivy circles? During my visit they worked hard to portray the school as very much in touch with the capitalist world around it, and I left with the impression of a faculty that was at least grounded in reality, if not totally balanced.
11.30.2005 10:29pm
Crimson04:
B:
I think it is undisputed that HLS is more hospitable to conservatives than Columbia Law. The Observer article says it all -- the size of the Federalist Society at HLS, as well as its activity level, DWARFS the conservative groups at Columbia.
12.1.2005 12:22am
HLS Crush-on-Stuntz:
Ditto on Stuntz's overall greatness--thanks, Disenfranchised Jets Fan, for handing him over to us. But Eugene, since when is he a conservative? Is the idea that simply not being anti-religion makes one a conservative?
12.1.2005 9:47am
Justin (mail):
Niels, not only did I list those people, those PEOPLE ARE NOT TENURED PROFESSORS AT HARVARD LAW SCHOOL. As mentioned, many of them teach at other law schools, and although I admit I do not know whether some of them may be visiting Harvard or not, that is not usually the definition of whether someone is on the faculty or not.

Look, the main problem, as I mentioned and was ignored, is that determining a balance based on the political spectrum of the general populace is bad for a MULTITUDE of reasons. For one, political and jurisprudential views may diverge. For a second, this ignores that the United States is significantly more conservative than the world at large. For a third, this ignores that the median CANDIDATE for law professors is firmly in the "political left" 50% of this country. I am ROUTINELY bombarded on this website by calls from the likes of David Bernstein and others about how goddarn liberal ("and closedminded") the student body is at Yale, Columbia, Harvard. These are the people who make up law review, who make publishing decisions, who clerk for the top judges, whose notes get published in their law reviews. The only thing they do not control that particularly matters is the actual hiring decision and the clerkship selection process (which unarguably leans right, not left. I know several top (unnamed) students who, though liberal, actively hide their liberal views to make them more appealing to feeder judges, SCOTUS justices, and organizations like the solicitor general's office and the OLC (though none of them list with pride organizations that discriminate against women and minorities afaik). That ignores the very large self-selection bias (even if the ratio between Republicans and Democrats were controlled to 1:1 in top law schools, the subsample of those who would give up top paying jobs to clerk and teach would lean sharply, though not exclusively, left).

Thus, against that very large screen (I've never met a supreme court clerk who couldnt find a legal job somewhere, and then its publish or perish), you have ONLY the fact that the faculty is liberal. Though I also submit that law faculties themselves were vetted through this process and thus it would seem weird for them to be to the left of what one would expect given the supply and demand for the job, I've seen NO EVIDENCE that there is any bias against hiring of conservatives in law schools. To the contrary, Columbia has actively pursued conservatives with any significant scholarship (picking up Merrill, who I've heard good things about), and faught to keep conservatives such as Manning around. The fact is, the vast majority of those who have the talent and desire to seek law professor jobs are risk-adverse, statist (in general favor of the status quo and reform at "conservative" speeds), left of the American political center, traditionalist (Hart &Sacks and legal process as opposed to textualism, realism, or CLS), pro-capitalist, with liberterian leanings. Indeed, though I (continue to) insist that there is an equally large lack of leftist legal scholars, that this has less to do with discrimination than it has to do with the amount of people who maintain these views and have the patience (and willingness) to rise within the system to enter the academic elite.

Nor, btw, do I think this really "matters". It seems to me that scholarship as a whole doesn't matter where you go to law school....law students, justices, and other conservative scholars alike have been equally willing to pick up the Harvard Journal of Law and Policy (or whatever the federalist rag is called) as the Law Review in citing articles. Nor do I think the supposed liberal lean of law professors induces students to become conservative: every study I've seen says people's political identitiy is generally set, and this has been my personal view as well.

So as far as I can tell the only "problem" with this bias, had it existed in the first place, that conservatives fear is either their own economic futures (important enough I suppose but lets not overstate the case by making this about the nature of academia itself). It, of course, has also been used to discredit through ad hominen ideas that would be more difficult to discredit in an intellectually honest manner; to create boogeymen in order to keep the troops in line and create conservative solidarity; and to undermine affirmative action indirectly.
12.1.2005 11:05am
Edward A. Hoffman (mail):
Anonymoose wrote:
I'd be more impressed if any of your listed conservatives had donated money to a conservative campaign.

Using OpenSecrets, I searched for the names above in MA explicitly to obvious no avail (some had multiple entries, but nobody looked likely, but I confess I might have overlooked someone), then did a quick search for 'Harvard Law', coming up with 97 entries, all Democrats or affiliated (Emily's List) groups.
The problem with your methodology is that these professors just came to Harvard from law schools in other states. Why would a prof who just arrived from, say, Stanford have a history of donations in Massachusetts? If you're looking for a history of donations you need to search the states these folks came from and not the one where they just arrived.

Crimson04 wrote:
I think it is undisputed that HLS is more hospitable to conservatives than Columbia Law. The Observer article says it all -- the size of the Federalist Society at HLS, as well as its activity level, DWARFS the conservative groups at Columbia.
You overlook the fact that Harvard has a much larger law school than Columbia. Even if the percentages were identical, Columbia's conservatives would be substantially outnumbered at Harvard -- and so would its liberals.

Also, it isn't clear whether the high number of Federalist Society members at Harvard are from the law school or the entire university. My bet would be the latter. If so, it's no surprise that they vastly outnumber the conservatives at Columbia Law. They must vastly outnumber the conservatives at Harvard Law, too.
12.3.2005 10:31pm