That U.C. Irvine Law School

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Over at MoneyLaw (and also at her own blog) Belle Lettre provides background and a link round up of the Chemerinsky debacle, and Brain Leiter’s most recent post on the subject adds even more details. Yesterday Chemerinsky had an Op-Ed in the LA Times, which said in pertinent part:

… Some people, in speaking to me, have compared this to McCarthyism, but in an important way that analogy is not apt. I did not lose my job. I am a tenured law professor at a terrific university, and I can continue to teach and write and handle legal appeals, as I have for the last 28 years. I have received nothing but support over this from my university president, provost, dean and colleagues. During the McCarthy era, some faculty members lost their jobs for what they wrote and said.

A key lesson learned from those tragic times is that academic freedom matters. Tenure has many costs, but it exists so that academics will feel free to express themselves without fear of reprisal. It is based on the idea that everyone benefits from the free exchange of ideas. Without academic freedom, the reality is that many faculty members would be chilled and timid in expressing their views, and the discussion that is essential for the advancement of thought would be lost.

This is not a liberal or conservative proposition. I said to Chancellor Drake that if I were conservative and my appointment had been blocked by liberals, the right would be justifiably outraged that “political correctness” had done me in. The truth is that a person’s politics should play no role in the decision to hire them for a faculty or administrative position. All that matters is that the individual be committed to creating an institution where all viewpoints will be respected and flourish. That is what academic freedom is all about.

My concern is that the message from this episode, especially for my more junior colleagues who may aspire to be deans someday or, for that matter, judges, is that if you speak out — liberal or conservative — you may lose your chance at a position that you really want. …

That final bolded paragraph raises a fairly obvious concern for feminists. Any University that finds Erwin Chemerinsky politically unacceptable for its law school deanship is extremely unlikely to be welcoming to feminist law profs, certainly for its deanship and quite plausibly for its faculty as well.

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