The L.A. Times reports:
Chemerinsky and [UCI Chancellor] Drake agreed the new dean's dismissal was motivated in part by an Aug. 16 opinion article in The Times, the same day the job offer was made. In it, Chemerinsky asserted that Atty. Gen. Alberto Gonzales was "about to adopt an unnecessary and mean-spirited regulation that will make it harder for those on death row to have their cases reviewed in federal court."
But Drake and Chemerinsky split sharply on what role the article played in the decision to fire the incoming dean and whether academic freedom was at stake.
"Shouldn't we as academics be able to stand up for people on death row?" Chemerinsky said.
Drake said that "we had talked to him in June about writing op-ed pieces and that he would have to focus on things like legal education in this new role, and then here comes another political piece. It wasn't the subject, it was its existence. What he said doesn't matter." ...
Chemerinsky said that Drake told him during a meeting at the Sheraton Hotel near the Raleigh-Durham airport that "concerns" had emerged from the University of California regents, which would have had to approve the appointment. The professor said Drake told him that he thought there would have been a "bloody battle" over the appointment.
Drake disagreed with the account. "No one said we can't hire him," he said. "No one said don't take this to the regents. I consulted with no regents about this. I told a couple people that I was worried and that this might be controversial, but no one called me and said I should do anything."
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." ...
More from The Recorder (a San Francisco legal newspaper):
Christopher Edley Jr., dean of University of California, Berkeley's Boalt Hall School of Law who has been involved with the new law school -- and was handpicked by Chemerinsky to serve on his advisory board -- said it wasn't about Chemerinsky's "political leanings or ideology, which everyone knew" about.
"I think key people lost confidence that he would be willing to shed his high personal public profile in the service of the law school -- whether that was the right or wrong conclusion," Edley said, though he declined to identify the individuals who opposed Chemerinsky.
Edley continued: "At the end of the day, the chancellor had to have confidence that Erwin would be able to earn the trust, loyalty and investment of a diverse constituency, and for a startup venture that's an exceptionally delicate proposition."
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- Matt Welch (L.A. Times) Roundup on Chemerinsky News and Commentary
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- More on Academic Freedom and Fundraisers / Policymakers / Institutional Public Faces:
- More from the L.A. Times on the Chemerinsky Matter:
- Kmiec on Chemerinsky:
- UC Irvine Chancellor Michael Drake's Statement on the Decision to Rescind the Offer to Erwin Chemerinsky:
- UC Irvine Law School Foolishly Rescinds Offer of Dean Position to Erwin Chemerinsky Because of Fear of Offending Conservatives: