Chemerinksy Update:

According to the L.A. Times, UC Irvine is working on a possible deal to rehire liberal legal scholar Erwin Chemerinsky as its dean. Meanwhile, Chemerinsky himself had an op ed in yesterday's LA Times telling his side of the story, and reaffirming his claim that UCI Chancellor Michael Drake told him that the original offer was rescinded because of his liberal political views. This directly contradicts Drake's own account, which holds that political issues had nothing to do with the decision, but failed to provide any alternative explanation.

On balance, I welcome UCI's move to rehire Chemerinsky, which seems to me at least an implicit admission that decision to rescind his offer was a mistake and (probably) motivated by misplaced concerns over his ideology.

At this point, I probably will not be doing any more Chemerinsky blogging, as I don't have any inside information not available to the general public, and the points that I might be interested in making are likely to be made just as effectively by others. I will blog about it again only if I have something original to say.

For those interested in continuing to follow this issue, Paul Caron of TaxProf Blog has been posting regular, detailed updates.

What I don't understand is, why is the Chemerinsky episode atracting so much attention, whereas, when the UC faculty shout down Lawrence Summers and prevent him from speaking, no one says boo? Every day, the blogosphere reminds of what hypocrites academics are, and why I don't respond to those fund raising appeals from the University of California.
9.15.2007 9:19pm
Daryl Herbert (www):
Do you worry that if they take Chemerinsky back, he will have gained a great deal of power? I don't like the idea of UCI's law school being built up around a partisan hack with no oversight.

Unlike Michael Drake, I fully acknowledge that this is a partisan complaint. We have too many liberal-dominated law schools. We should build a new Chicago/GMU-type school at Irvine. With UCI's econ department and the Haas school of business, a libertarian/right-wing law school would fit right in. It would be healthy to have that kind of diversity.

It's a shame they've chosen Chemerinsky and given him this kind of power, because we know the type of professors he's going to bring in: doctrinaire, left-wing hacks who follow the party line to a T.

UCI's law school is already dead.
9.15.2007 9:46pm
anji (mail):
The point about Larry Summers is appropriate. Will we see as much outrage on the Left about the Summers non-invitation as there was on the Right about UCI's Law Dean? And will the LA Times notice in the same way?
9.15.2007 11:16pm
Chemerinsky has pulled of a perfect double reverse.

He wanted the deanship, but wasn't willing to give up his advocacy. That's the reason he wasn't chosen as Dean at Duke.

So he agreed - verbally - to stop, then went right on writing op-eds to force Drake to fire him. Drake was weak, because the school wasn't open. The firestorm that Chemerinsky started by leaking his spin forces Drake to re-hire him, and immunizes Chemerinsky. No one can fire him now. When he takes up a cause it won't be a law prof doing pro-bono work, he will be speaking for the entire school.

And he just manipulated every blogger and law professor into calling for the only black Chancellor in the UC to be fired. Drake's a democrat, who's actually farther to the left than Chemerinsky.

Brilliant. And you all just got pwn3d.
9.15.2007 11:51pm
unhyphenatedconservative (mail):
As a Cal alumnus, I must take umbrage at you giving our business school to Irvine. There's is Paul Merage.

Other than that, I agree that the last thing we need is another law school spewing out liberal clones.
9.16.2007 12:33am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Given this comment thread, I really don't blame Ilya for not posting anymore. Obviously, there's a heck of a lot of people who don't know the first thing about Erwin or the facts of this matter-- and who overstate the alleged victimization of conservatives in the legal academy.
9.16.2007 12:54am
Daryl Herbert (www):
Oops, sorry about Haas :-(

But UCI does have a business school.
9.16.2007 12:58am
Daryl Herbert (www):
Obviously, there's a heck of a lot of people who don't know the first thing about Erwin or the facts of this matter-- and who overstate the alleged victimization of conservatives in the legal academy.

Maybe I just can't see the forest for the trees (I am a current law student). I would very much like to be proven wrong.
9.16.2007 1:20am
Visitor Again:
The most startling revelation is that California Supreme Court Chief Justice George communicated his and apparently the court's displeasure over the death penalty habeas corpus article appearing in the Los Angeles Times by way of a letter to Chancellor Drake.

The story reported:

Drake acknowledged that Chemerinsky had attracted significant opposition from conservatives, but he would not name the people who had contacted him. He said that their complaints were not the cause for his decision to terminate the dean.The criticism included a letter from the California Supreme Court criticizing a Chemerinsky opinion piece in The Times.

In an interview Friday, George said Chemerinsky made a "gross error" that was "very troubling" to the court in an Aug. 16 article that criticized U.S. Atty. Gen. Alberto R. Gonzales. Drake offered him the job that same day.

George, an appointee of Gov. Pete Wilson, said that Chemerinsky wrote incorrectly that only one state, Arizona, provided lawyers for death row inmates who want to file a constitutional challenge, known as a habeas corpus petition, to have their sentences or convictions overturned.

George said he was surprised Chemerinsky would make such a mistake. The court asked Court Clerk Frederick K. Ohlrich to write a letter to the editor to The Times to correct the piece.

"None of us could understand how somebody, let alone someone who is very bright and a fine legal scholar, could get that wrong," George said. "It had nothing to do with his philosophy. I certainly feel he is an outstanding legal scholar and a fine advocate."

The Times has no record of the letter being received as a letter to the editor or as a request for correction.

George gave a copy of the letter to Malcolm.

Malcolm said he gave the letter to Drake. "It disturbed him, but I don't think it was the reason for his decision."

Chemerinsky was angered by the letter when told about it by The Times.

"If the justices sent a letter to UC Irvine with the goal of influencing the dean process, that's inappropriate," he said.

He also stood by his article. "My op-ed was accurate in saying California does not comply with the federal standards for providing counsel to those on death row in their post-conviction proceedings, and Arizona is the only state deemed in federal district court to have met the federal standards."

Michael Schroeder, one of Orange County's most powerful GOP political players, said a group of 20 prominent Republicans organized against Chemerinsky in recent weeks, believing him to be a "longtime partisan gunslinger" and too "polarizing" for the job.

Another member of the group, who asked not to be identified, said Drake's cellphone number was distributed so the protesters could call the chancellor.

Antonovich said he too worked to derail the appointment by sending an e-mail to a small group of supporters and urging them to contact the university.

UC President Robert C. Dynes issued a statement Friday to The Times praising Drake's integrity and saying that the chancellor has assured him that he was not influenced by political pressure when he rescinded the offer to Chemerinsky.

I note also that September's California Bar Journal, the monthly newspaper mailed to all California lawyers, contains several letters vehemently criticizing Chemerinsky's August story recounting the last U.S. Supreme Court term.

What business the California Supreme Court and its chief justice have in spending taxpayer money to contact Chemerinsky's prospective employer is beyond me. It's a disgrace. Chief Justice George appears to be part of the right-wing cult that was bent on denying Chemerinsky the deanship.
9.16.2007 2:11am
unhyphenatedconservative (mail):
LOL. No worries Darryl. Just had to pick the nit.
9.16.2007 2:12am
marcy strauss (mail):
Bombast, the op ed piece on the death penalty was written and accepted prior to his receiving the offer at Irvine.
9.16.2007 2:41am
Mahan Atma (mail):
GOP Politician sent email asking how to stop naming of dean

A conservative Los Angeles County politician asked about two dozen people in an e-mail last month how to prevent the University of California, Irvine from hiring renowned liberal scholar Erwin Chemerinsky as its founding law school dean, a spokesman for the politician said Friday.

Making Chemerinsky the head of the law school "would be like appointing al-Qaida in charge of homeland security," Michael Antonovich, a longtime Republican member of the county Board of Supervisors, said in a voicemail left with The Associated Press.
9.16.2007 3:56am
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
Michael Antonovich is a term-limited out, ultraconservative, not particularly impressive Supervisor in a different county. If the Chancellor of UC Irvine was influenced by his campaign to smear Erwin, that Chancellor is beyond mad.
9.16.2007 4:50am
DH, is part of the problem. The fact that DH calls Chemerinsky a "partisan hack", illustrates to just what extent DH is just utterly full of shit and should not be taken seriously. Yes law school is dominated by liberals and things can be tough for conservatives...

Chemerinsky only happens to be the top Constitutional Law Scholar in the country. (No, John Yoo- who's toiling at UCB, doesm't count) It is true, that most profs are libs, which also means that most top law scholars happen to be libs. DH would rather have a less qualified Law Dean, b/c of partisan reasons. This is how we got into this problem in the first place.

who would you rather have

A. Chemerinsky - a bonafide legal Star or
B. Ken Starr

UCI was lucky to have Chemerinsky's interest at all. He'll probably end up as Dean at USC, NC, or Duke.
9.16.2007 12:56pm
Tony Tutins (mail):
At this point, Professor Chemerinsky is no longer a good choice to be dean of the UCI law school. The most important role of a dean is funneling funds into his law school. To avoid turning off potential donors, the dean has to be bland and inoffensive, not a polarizing force. No matter when written, publishing opeds that appear to have been inadequately fact-checked breeds opposition. Moreover, a dean is an administrator in an administrative hierarchy who has to win his boss's approval, not publicly challenge him in the newspaper.
9.16.2007 1:23pm
Natty B, he turned down the Deanship at NC because he wanted to continue with his activism and they didn't want him to. After he turned them down he trashed them in the media as second rate, turning out unqualified graduates, not having a strong enough affirmative action program for faculty, etc.

Duke considered him but passed him over as dean - same reason. It didn't help that he said nothing during the Duke LaCrosse case.

Marcy, the death penalty op-ed is the one that had Drake put Chemerinsky on notice that that kind of crap couldn't continue. Chemerinsky AGREED. Then he wrote and published the one that got the offer withdrawn.
9.16.2007 2:39pm

I don't dispute anything you just wrote. Though, your comments raise a few questions in my mind.

1. He didn't say anything about the Duke Lacrosse case. Isn't that a good thing? There was a rush to judgment, and although it was pretty clear to those privy to the evidence at the beginning that they were innocent, Isn't nonetheless a good thing that he didn't "take sides". His activism, if my understanding is correct, is generally limited to - although touching upon politically sensitive issues - interpretation of Constitutional Law, of which, he is considered a foremost expert. I only know of Chemerinsky b/c of his Aspen Series ConLaw Book, which helped me get an A in class, I didn't know he was a big liberal activist until this little controversy broke.

I didn't know that he trashed UNC in the news and all that... could you send a link, b/c every google news search just gets me stuff about UCI.

2. Who the fuck is Drake? And why is this guy in any position to tell Chemerinsky to "cool it". We are talking about a new law school - albeit a UC, so there'll be a lot of money and resources behind it - which will undoubtedly start as a Tier 4. Shouldn't Drake already be aware of the reputation of his new Dean? I mean, it's that reputation which probably got him hired in the first place?

UCI fucked this up...

THIS IS THE ISSUE: Does Chemerinsky's liberal slant (like 90% of all law profs) means that he would engage in liberal biased in his hiring/administration of the Law School?

OR - and I think this is the case at my Law School, which also has a liberal rep - would his personal liberal slant cause him to be even more welcoming of a diverse community of ideas and ideologies, because he has to compensate for his personal liberalism.
9.16.2007 3:07pm
marcy strauss (mail):
I'm not sure Erwin agreed never to publish op eds; he certainly reached no such agreement to refrain from it as a professor at Duke, which is all he was at the time of the publication. Also, Erwin did not accept at UNC because he felt that, given the financial situation at the school, he could not do the kind of things he wanted to do (and they wanted him to do) to get the school moving. It had absolutely NOTHING to do with advocacy issues.
9.16.2007 3:50pm
marcy strauss (mail):
also, he never "trashed" UNC, he simply talked about the lack of adequate financial commitment, which is a problem at many state schools. Natty B, I have no doubt that Erwin would reach across the spectrum to hire professors. As evidenced by the reasonable conservative voices (Kmiec for eg) being liberal has never precluded him getting along, respecting and being respected by conservatives. Moreover, he has worked in administrative positions with all sorts before and succeeded admirably.
9.16.2007 3:54pm
Ralph Phelan (mail):
Chemerinsky, the great civil rights advocate, completely ignored a major civil rights abuse happening right under his nose. (see

He deserved to lose this job opportunity - cowardly hypocrites can be effective professors, but they make lousy administrators.
9.17.2007 12:13pm