UC Irvine Chancellor Michael Drake's Statement on the Decision to Rescind the Offer to Erwin Chemerinsky:

UC Irvine Chancellor Michael Drake has issued a statement defending the University's decision to rescind its offer of the law school dean position to liberal legal scholar Erwin Chemerinsky. The statement is here. Brian Leiter calls the Chancellor's statement an example of "the familiar administrative mode of 'say nothing substantive, pretend everyone doesn't know what really happened, and hope it all just goes away.'" I tend to agree. The 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. Still, if you are interested in this issue, go ahead and read the statement. At least it's mercifully short. Maybe you can find some hidden virtues in the Chancellor's bureaucratic prose that Leiter and I have missed.

Visitor Again:
Chancellor Drake's decision to withdraw Professor Chemerinsky's appointment was a disaster for all the reasons stated elsewhere, but, after reading various pieces on the web, I think a fair guess can be made as to what prompted the turnabout.

Drake apparently concluded that Chemerinsky could not be trusted to put the interests of stewardship of the new law school above his own interests as a prominent agitator on controversial public issues.

The straw that broke the camel's back apparently was the op-ed piece on habeas corpus published a few days ago in the Los Angeles Times. That piece, appearing in the newspaper that has the largest circulation in Southern California, where the new law school is located, came about two weeks after the agreement to appoint Chemerinsky was reached.

Drake apparently felt that if Chemerinsky had a modicum of good judgment, he would have refrained from publicly injecting himself into a controversial issue while his appointment was pending. And if Chemerinsky felt free to say what he wanted where he wanted while his appointment was pending, who knows what he would do after his appointment went through? Drake might have envisioned himself shuddering every time he opened a newspaper.

In short, Drake came to believe Chemerinsky was a loose cannon and that, given the clash between Chemerinsky's views and those prevailing in Orange County, the new law school would be better off without him as its dean.
9.13.2007 7:40am
I have to say that Visitor Again's version of events seems plausible. That does not excuse the school for making the hire in the first place, though, since Chemerinsky has not exactly been a shrinking violet throughout his career. Though I hesitate to psychoanalyze, I have to wonder if Chem really wants to be a dean. He had the UNC deanship in his hands and turned it down. Then he threw the school under the bus by publicly questioning the school/state's commitment to having a top-notch law school. He (and others) might argue that he was only telling the truth, but it certainly did not display good judgment or self-control on his part. I just wonder if he is unwilling to make the compromises that any high-profile academic dean must make.
9.13.2007 8:16am
Anonymous Jim (mail):
From the Chancellor's statement:
The offer was contingent on approval of the UC Regents.

Was the offer ever presented to the Regents? I bet not.
9.13.2007 9:06am
Ugh (mail):
What a clown show. I can see applicants lining up right now.
9.13.2007 9:13am
Temp Guest (mail):
Just another example of weasel-speak, the standard language of academic administrators in the US.
9.13.2007 9:54am
Anderson (mail):
Temp Guest's comment is insulting to weasels, which I have found to be remarkably feisty, straightforward little critters.
9.13.2007 10:14am
"that the founding dean and I can partner effectively"

Since when did "partner" become a verb? I hate this type of word usage, just use "work together." It isn't as though there is a word shortage.
9.13.2007 10:16am
Anonymouseducator (mail) (www):
Uncle me no uncle
9.13.2007 10:26am
Steven Joyce (mail):
"Since when did 'partner' become a verb?"

The OED has citations for "partner" as a verb going back to 1616, although it notes that this usage was rare until the 19th century.
From the OED Online:

partner, v.

rare before 19th cent.

1. trans. To make (a person) a partner; to join or associate with someone or something else. Usu. in pass.

a1616 SHAKESPEARE Cymbeline (1623) I. vi. 122 A Lady, So faire, be partner'd With Tomboyes.

1819 Blackwood's Mag. 5 592 A respectable accompaniment of lads and 'lasses free'; with whom it is time to partner ourselves on the green. 1898 Times 10 June 11/4 Harry Vardon, who was partnered with Bob Simpson. 1909 Westm. Gaz. 8 Feb. 12/4 Supposing a plus 3 man is partnered with a steady player whose handicap is 8, the two as a foursome side would be handicapped at 5. 1970 J. EARL Tuners &Amplifiers i. 14 Most amplifiers can be partnered with a tuner of matching style and size. 2000 Petcare Jan.-Feb. 3/3 Finally the dog is partnered with a disabled person during a two-week intensive residential course.

2. intr. To associate or work as partners; to become partners, enter into partnership or a relationship.

a. With with.
1859 J. W. LOGUEN Rev. J. W. Loguen 79 He partnered with his brothers Carnes and Manasseth in the crime that kidnapped her when a little child. 1961 Webster's 3rd New Internat. Dict. Eng. Lang. s.v., Him and me, we partnered once. A. B. Mayse. 1968 Globe &Mail (Toronto) 17 Feb. (Mag.) 9/2 In 1929 he partnered with a U.S. businessman, Ben Raeburn, to publish a series of 'forbidden' sex books. 1985 L. MCMURTRY Lonesome Dove (1986) xxiv. 222 It's odd I partnered with a man like you. 2000 Daily Tel. 7 Mar. 39/4 Alba has partnered with Pace Micro Technology, which manufactures set-top boxes for digital TV.

b. With up, off.
1982 Legal Times (Nexis) 4 Jan. 3 Former SEC and FERC enforcer Theodore Sonde..has partnered up with D.C.'s Cole &Corette. 1991 P. LEWIS Martial Arts 53 These advanced techniques involve partnering up with a fellow student and following a step-by-step routine of attack, defence and counter-attack. 1996 Washington Times (Nexis) 26 Sept. M4 We usually do a footwork drill to Irish music... After that, we'll start partnering off, and the students will create their own phrases or fights. 2001 National Post (Toronto) 25 Aug. W2/1 She..explained that being single in Toronto is most definitely over. 'No one's doing it any more. Everyone's partnering up for life.'

3. trans. To be or act as the partner of; (spec. in Ballet) to lift or support (a dancer) (cf. PARTNERING n. 2).
1876 J. B. L. WARREN Soldier of Fortune III. iii. 268 You partnered me, And raked the ashes up in our dull home. 1882 Daily Tel. 24 June, The Colonials had scored 192 for the loss of four wickets,..on resuming Bonnor partnered Giffen. 1894 N. Brit. Daily Mail 4 Sept. 3 Golf... The Right Hon. A. J. Balfour..had a couple of rounds, partnering Mr. A. M. Ross against Mr. R. M. Harvey and Mr. Ben Sayers. 1955 Times 13 June 12/5 On Saturday night Miss Smythe had partnered Flanagan to victory in the opening event of the Show. 1977 New Yorker 4 July 70/2 Charles Ward and Clark Tippet are soloists who do not belong in the premier-danseur roles they have to assume in order to partner Gregory or van Hamel. 1990 N.Y. Times 4 Feb. H9 It is no longer unusual to see women partnering{em}hefting and carrying{em}men in modern dance. 2001 Terrorizer Sept. 16/2 Now partnered by vocalist Apollos, Intra-Venus' recent sophomore effort 'Irreverence' continues their masterly fusion of traditional goth aesthetics and contemporary darkwave sounds.
9.13.2007 10:44am
Anderson (mail):
Douglas Kmiec has a VERY classy defense of Chemerinsky in the LA Times. Read the whole thing, but see this:

Ironically, Erwin and I have often disputed the extent to which law is only politics. It has been my view that law must be understood as its own discipline and that the Constitution must be interpreted in a manner that respects its text and its history rather than any desired outcome. If federalism is a principle to be honored in the Constitution, for example, deference must be given to state choices, whether they are liberal or conservative. Erwin was less confident that law and politics could be so neatly divided.

I will continue to believe that the law has its own place above politics, but Erwin's dismissal surely makes that belief harder to sustain.
9.13.2007 10:52am
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
So then if the facts are to be interpreted in the worst possible light against the UCI law school -- Erwin Chemerinsky may have lost a job in the legal profession because of his political ideology. Which is sort of ironic considering that Chemerinsky has been one of the leading national proponents for using political ideology as a criteria for denying other people jobs in the legal profession.
9.13.2007 11:20am
John (mail):
Though handled clumsily, I think the chancellor was completely justified in doing what he did. He felt he could not get along comfortably with the candidate; thus, no offer. Would anyone be criticizing this if no offer had ever been made for this reason? I think not.

So the issue is the foolishness of making an offer contingent on Regents approval, rather than saying, "OK, we're going to the Regents now to see if we can make an offer"? If it had been the latter, no one would be griping in this way. As a matter of substance, rather than appearance, I don't see the difference.
9.13.2007 11:33am
I dissent from the blawgospheric jeremiads regarding this episode. Donors are the key to law school faculty quality, not "academic reputation". The idea that any law school's "academic reputation" will hurt faculty recruiting is facetious. It's like "electability" in politics -- vote for someone not because you like them, but because other people will. Faculty members bring the school's academic reputation with them -- and what brings high quality faculty members is money. My law school -- Buffalo -- had a wonderful faculty in the 1970s (a high "academic reputation") fueled by an influx of New York state money after the state took over the school. When the money stopped flowing, all those professors left for places that paid them more.

I predict that UC Irvine law school will be just fine, and will soon be among the decent to good law schools in California.
9.13.2007 11:39am
I note one person above trying to use EC's positions on politics against him-that is truly unfair. kind of like pointing out how libertarian law professors feed at the public trough.
9.13.2007 12:29pm
byomtov (mail):
So then if the facts are to be interpreted in the worst possible light against the UCI law school -- Erwin Chemerinsky may have lost a job in the legal profession because of his political ideology.

No, Thorley. That would be the worst possible light if he had never been offered the job to begin with. The actual worst possible light is that the Chancellor determined, after a lengthy search process, that Chemerinsky was the best candidate for the job, made the offer, and had it accepted. After all that a big-money conservative donor stepped in and vetoed the deal on ideological grounds.

So, at state university, one individual with no particular qualifications other than a fat wallet voids an already accepted offer because he does not like Chemerinsky's ideology. This is not only a bad idea in itself, it makes the Chancellor, the law school, and the university look very foolish, and casts serious doubt on their commitment to independent scholarship.
9.13.2007 12:43pm
Maxine (mail) (www):
Visitor: Bingo!

If you are engaging in insubordination before you even start the job.....just imagine the shenannigans you'd engage in once you gain entry!

And yet, had Chemerinsky been able to bring in the big bucks, be a rainmaker, and lead them to even more money....I'm sure they'd put up with him.

No evidence of rainmaking at Duke, and that's what UCI want from a Dean. Reputation doesn't put food on the table.

UC = instant status, already, anyway!
9.13.2007 1:03pm
Thorley Winston (mail) (www):
I note one person above trying to use EC's positions on politics against him-that is truly unfair. kind of like pointing out how libertarian law professors feed at the public trough.

FWIW I don't question the integrity of conservative academics who defend Erwin Chemerinsky on what they (prematurely IMO) see as a guy who lost a chance at a legal job because of his political beliefs. What I do question is their judgment in rising to defend a guy who leading the charge to deny conservatives in the legal field jobs because of their perceived ideological beliefs.

IMO the proper response should have been for every conservative academic who feels inclined to weigh in on the issue to put out a statement roughly saying "We believe Erwin Erwin Chemerinsky's political ideology should no more be a criteria in a decision to hire him for a job then he has advocated using it as a criteria for others."
9.13.2007 1:31pm
how about "we do not feel it should be a criteria to be used against him despite his apparent willingness to use it against others." or, "despite his willingness to 'bork'em', we will not condone stooping down into gutter politics by holding his political beliefs against him"
9.13.2007 1:52pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
What I do question is their judgment in rising to defend a guy who leading the charge to deny conservatives in the legal field jobs because of their perceived ideological beliefs.

I want to make this very clear, because I have noted that the claims that Erwin is politically controversial and doesn't leave his politics at the door are somewhat accurate. He has NEVER, NEVER tried to deny conservatives jobs in the legal field. Indeed, this is a guy who supported USC's establishment of a chapter of the Federalist Society, was its faculty advisor for awhile, and has participated in its events many times over the years.
9.13.2007 3:11pm
bork'em-those are his words from his op-ed. or is someone using his likeness to nefarious ends? even if one assumes he has NEVER NEVER tried to deny jobs to conservatives in the legal field, he certainly has in other fields (is judicial not legal?).
9.13.2007 4:22pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):

You are assuming a premise that is very much in debate, and that is whether judges' ideologies are fair game in confirmation battles.

And further, even if one believes that judges' ideologies, in the end, should not be considered relevant criteria, the appointment process for judges is expressly political, whereas public university deans are appointed by a process that at least ostensibly is supposed to be more insulated from political considerations. (I am skeptical as to whether such considerations really don't come into play in academics, but certainly the STRUCTURE of presidential appointment and advice and consent of the Senate isn't one that was designed to protect against political interference.)

So calling for a judge to be rejected because of ideology is very different from calling for a faculty member, prospective faculty member, administrator, prospective administrator, or lawyer to be rejected because of ideology. And as far as I am aware, Erwin believes that conservatives should be given a fair shake in academia and the legal profession and has acted consistently with that belief.
9.13.2007 4:58pm
still doesn't get to the point-he wants it to be considered in some arenas, although allegedly not in academia. while it might be nice and collegial to stand up for the guy as a fellow academic, he is more than happy to throw others under the bus who are going for other jobs. why should one feel sympathy or outrage when the same rules he is more than happy to use against others are used against him? bork'em.
9.13.2007 5:15pm
GeorgeH (mail):
I agree with Visitor Again.
I would fire anyone, no matter how competent, no matter their political views who deliberately pissed on my leg by going to press immediately after being told to concentrate on the job he was being hired for.

If Chemerinsky were an honest man and felt his newspaper career was so important, he would have declined the appointment as Dean under those conditions.
9.13.2007 5:24pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):

Your argument proves too much. For instance, Erwin, presumably, believes that ideological considerations should be taken into account when selecting a President. How does that make him a hypocrite?

Just as the Presidency is different from academic appointments, so are judgeships. With respect to similarly situated individuals, I have seen no evidence that Erwin doesn't apply a similar standard.
9.13.2007 5:56pm