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Law Professor Hired as Dean, Then Fired

A new California law school is off to a rocky start, with the hiring -- and then firing -- of prominent civil rights scholar and Duke Law School professor Erwin Chemerinksy as its first dean, as reported here (, 9/13/07). According to the report, Chemerinksy was asked to give up the position by UC Irvine's chancellor Michael Drake because Chemerinsky's liberal views were too politically controversial. Many quoted in the article expressed disappointment at UC Irvine's decision since a professor with Chemerinsky's reputation would have "given the school instant credibility" and made it easy to attract talented professors. And in fact, Chemerinsky had chosen an advisory board that included many prominent conservatives.

With so many blogging law professors, you'd think that UC Irvine might have tried to explain its decision in more detail, instead of just putting out a press release and "hoping that it all goes away." But that wasn't the case. As Ilya Somin points out here, citing a post by Brian Leiter, UC Irvine's statement "neither admits that Irvine made a serious mistake in rescinding Chemerinsky's offer for ideological reasons, nor provides any real justification for the school's decision." And Somin also agrees with those like Leiter, who denounced the university's decision to base hiring on ideology. (For a round-up of what others have said, visit this post at Point of Law as well as comments at the WSJ Law Blog.)

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on September 13, 2007 at 04:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (0)


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