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Illinois Faculty Respond to the Tribune:

Larry Ribstein has posted a copy of a lengthy open letter from several prominent members of the University of Illinois School of Law faculty responding to the Chicago Tribune's breathless coverage and editorializing on the University's response to political pressure to admit unqualified applicants. It concludes:

The Tribune’s “clout goes to college” stories have all been about the abuse of power of University administrators and politicians. Newspapers also wield a great deal of power, and like all power, theirs too can be abused. Such is the case here. The Tribune should publicly apologize to those whom it has unjustifiably demonized. We are not so naïve as to expect this. Criticism such as this more often evokes anger than it does guilt. Indeed, we were advised against publishing this letter – “the Tribune has more ink than you do,” we were told. Yet “ink” is only as good as its content. What say you, Tribune? Can you own up to your mistakes and at least express remorse for unjustifiably damaging the distinguished careers that took lifetimes to build?
[Note: If you're going to comment on the substance of the letter, please read the whole thing before posting a comment.]

As I noted in my prior post, many of those commenting on this story seem shocked that a state-funded educational institution is subject to political pressure from state officials -- surely this cannot be news to folks at the Tribune! Yet there has been more criticism of the U. of I. than of the politicians who sought special treatment. Why is that?

Honest question:
Why comment on the substance, when the tone of this letter is so whiny and unpursuasive?

Honest question.

You'd think distinguished law professors could tell a compelling story. In writing.
7.6.2009 12:48am
Thoughtful (mail):
"Yet there has been more criticism of the U. of I. than of the politicians who sought special treatment. Why is that?"

Criticizing politicians for seeking special treatment is like criticizing the sun for rising in the east?
7.6.2009 12:52am
Mike& (mail):
I read the whole thing, and can't tell you what they were trying to say.... other than.... "There is no story. Even if there was a story, you you didn't tell the whole story."

What is their counter-narrative? They don't have one. They're just quibbling with some discreet aspects of the coverage.

What remains: The Dean of the University of Illinois College of Law accepted unqualified applicants into the law program. What's worse is that law school admission is often a zero-sum gain. No doubt, some people who earned their place at U of I were squeezed out by the Fortunate Sons.

Ribstein's 4-page letter doesn't change any of that.
7.6.2009 12:53am
Constantin:
The people who wrote and signed this letter have humiliated themselves. It's no better reasoned than the arguments most of us make when we get busted for speeding ("Everybody was doing it, why did you only stop me?"; "I had to go fast because the guy behind me was tailgating.")

If I'm a politician in Illinois, I'd spend my bribe money somewhere else, at a place with professors who might be worth it.
7.6.2009 12:54am
Mike& (mail):
You'd think distinguished law professors could tell a compelling story. In writing.

Yep. That letter is terrible advocacy. It's revealing of the law prof pathology. You know that almost everyone who signed that had to insert his or her "point" in there. Thus, the letter is crappy.

The University of Illinois legal writing professor should hand that letter out to her students as an example of bad-legal-writing-via-committee. "This, kids, is what happens when you let everyone have a say in the legal-writing process."
7.6.2009 12:56am
MCM (mail):
Why comment on the substance, when the tone of this letter is so whiny and unpursuasive?


Yes, why pay attention to the substance of anything, so long as we can dismiss the tone?

Not to defend the school, of course, but your question is ridiculous.
7.6.2009 12:57am
Mike& (mail):
Not to defend the school, of course, but your question is ridiculous.

Not at all. Read what Aristotle had to say about ethos and writing.
7.6.2009 1:02am
autolykos:
Meh. As an alumnus of the University (though admittedly one who didn't stick around for law school), I sincerely appreciate what the Trib is doing. Frankly, I don't care what their motivations are.

I'd rather take my lumps, get people upset about the issue and try to get the system changed, than just throw my hands up like the professors and complain that there's nothing that can be done about these types of corrupt practices.
7.6.2009 1:11am
Oren:

Yet there has been more criticism of the U. of I. than of the politicians who sought special treatment. Why is that?

Because the UofI might be fixed, but IL's government is quite permanently broken.
7.6.2009 1:24am
Oren:

I'd rather take my lumps, get people upset about the issue and try to get the system changed, than just throw my hands up like the professors and complain that there's nothing that can be done about these types of corrupt practices.

The problem is that you take your lumps and disappear and someone more pliant replaces you. For every dean that wants to play Don Quixote, there are 10 others willing to fall in line for a 3% annual funding boost from the legislature.

You might feel better that you were principled, but if you didn't change anything (and torched your career in the process) then it's what, a hill of beans?
7.6.2009 1:28am
interested observer:
they should have held out for some real goodies, like doug kmiec... the new ambassador to malta.
7.6.2009 1:53am
John Thacker (mail):
Yet there has been more criticism of the U. of I. than of the politicians who sought special treatment. Why is that?


Because they've had months and months of criticism of the same state politicians for corruption and special treatment, and the new angle here is the UIUC law school?

The letter to the editor is extremely unpersuasive, and several times makes exactly the argument that it protests it is not making (such as about "everybody does it so it's not news.")

The law professors do not at all limit themselves to complaining that UIUC received more criticism than that state officials. They complain that the article itself was given prominent space at all, saying that it occurs everywhere.

Perhaps. But if the professors and the university really found the political pressure so distasteful, then why would they have such a problem with the Tribune front paging it? After all, it seems to me that publicity (and the threat thereof) would be the only way (though certainly not assured) to reduce such pressure. Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and all that.

So I can only conclude that the professor not only think that it happens everywhere, but that it's not a very big deal. And if they think it's not a very big deal, then that increases the chance that they'd give in to the pressure.
7.6.2009 1:54am
tvk:
Being someone who actually sympathizes with the U of I administrators, I still find the letter pretty off-putting. There is a valid point that the much bigger story is the corruption of the legislators and others seeking special favors. But to say that the administrators "giving in" are a "non-story" and should be praised is hardly persuasive. In law clerk language, this letter has the telltale signs of a losing brief: kitchen sink, nit-picky, and launching ad hominem attacks on the ref (i.e. the trial judge or editors).
7.6.2009 1:58am
Doc Merlin:
"Yet there has been more criticism of the U. of I. than of the politicians who sought special treatment. Why is that?"

1) Politicians are expected to behave in mildly corrupt ways, so long as they don't get caught, because of this expectation there is no huge outcry when they are corrupt.
2) Politicians have supporters who will protect them for two reasons
a) shared ideology
b) precisely because they are corrupt (i.e.: they have vested financial interests in the politician being protected)

This leads us to an unstable condition in a democratic republic, once we introduce *expected* corruption, it becomes very hard to get rid of and only leads to more and more corruption, since the politicians who are corrupt are the ones that end up being protected as a result of their corruption. I don't know if this leads to an eventual equilibrium or if its a runaway reaction, but looking at the third world would suggest to me its a runaway process beyond a certain point.
7.6.2009 2:05am
DaveJD (mail) (www):
Since comments are moderated on Ribstein's blog and are not being posted, I will re-comment what I submitted there:

I'm incredibly saddened by this response. The UI administration and faculty are not the victims here. The Illinois taxpayers are. Enabling corruption may not be as despicable as exerting the power to obtain a benefit. While such things may happen everywhere, that does not excuse it.

Though there is a lot more that I find wrong with this response, here are a couple of highlights:

1) Personal benefit to the administrators: they do receive a benefit in bowing to political pressure, presumably being able to keep their jobs. The duties of the administrators are to the state, not to the politically powerful. If they can't handle that responsibility in an ethical manner, they should resign. We might overlook a cop who allows a politically powerful person to avoid a speeding ticket for fear for their jobs, or even a revenue agent that responded to clouted pressure. But a police chief or head of treasury that expressly authorized such behavior? These are public funds they are using to educate students. Off with their heads.

2) The contention that political clout was just one factor among many. Please. I think Paul Pless' email to Hurd more than adequately dispenses with that as complete poppycock.

3) The Hurd sarcasm issue. Yes, there was sarcasm present in her responses. It does not change the fact that she was authorizing an exchange of jobs for admits. It is obvious to anyone reading those emails without a vested interest in the matter that the whole thing was incredibly improper. Maybe not illegal, but certainly unethical and something the people of Illinois have every right to know about. It's their money, not yours.

I am simply astounded by this response. You have been exposed for doing something highly improper and unethical, and your response is to play the victim. I suggest a simple comparison between this response and that of another set of journalists: look at the WaPo's response to its "underwritten salons" scandal. They acknowledged what they did was improper, and even fudged a bit on who was ultimately responsible. But they acknowledged their mistake and took steps to address the impropriety, and they certainly did not try to portray themselves as the victim. And as a private enterprise they owe significantly less to the public than you do. You are employees of the state of Illinois... please do not try to hold yourself above the public trust. If there is a tin ear here, it is the tin ear of the UI professoriate to the public outrage over what has been done at their school. It is mindbogglingly disconcerting that you learned about these lapses but express no remorse, or "dismay," that this occurred at your school. Mindboggling.

You should be ashamed of yourselves, for what happened and for your response. Get your house in order... until then none of you have the moral authority to weigh in on the affairs of anyone else.
7.6.2009 2:47am
Kazinski:
I'm willing to stipulate that UI deans and administrators are not more corrupt than Illinois politicians.

That is some standard they are aspiring to.
7.6.2009 3:55am
epeeist:
Regardless of the merit/possible merit in their position, the letter is not particularly persuasive, due in part to being hideously overlengthy (and I'm a lawyer who makes overlong posts!). The letter reminds me in some ways of a poorly written law school exam, trying to explode every single possible point onto the page, at the expense of clarity and more organized thinking.

Plus, if a defense takes that long to explain, how persuasive can it be...

I totally agree that politicians using undue influence like this is wrong. But so is giving into it, despite the control of the purse strings argument. If a politician said "admit X even though he's an unqualified illiterate" or "expel Y because I don't like his father" or whatever, the law school would rightly resist that pressure despite possible consequences (well, it better resist that sort of pressure...). The sort of admission due to pressure discussed in the original story is different in degree, not in kind.

To take a different tack, if the law school before this was open and aboveboard about admission policy then the law school's behaviour would be far less objectionable e.g. to take an extreme example if the admission brochure stated: "Please note, as a publicly funded institution, we will sometimes cave to political pressure from local or state officials or other connected people, to admit a student we otherwise wouldn't. When we give into this pressure we will try, if possible, to get some benefit applicable to other students such as an employment opportunity open to non-patronage students. If you don't like it that we will admit people because of political pressure, then try to get your elected officials to explicitly outlaw such behaviour - maybe you'll have more luck than us or elect a governor who doesn't get indicted."
7.6.2009 4:03am
Anonymous 3L:
What I find most disturbing in the letter is the disconnect between legal writing and persuasive apologia to the public.

Look at the beginning paragraph, the points (1) and (2). Arguing in the alternative has it's place in a brief before the court - but it has little or no place in the court of public opinion.

That these legal academics thought the letter could be persuasive is laughable. And I'm not just arguing semantics - it's merely the first big mistake over the dozens of them in the letter.
7.6.2009 6:59am
Downfall:
The letter is nonsensical and unpersuasive for all the above reasons, but I thought one of the purposes of tenure was to allow professors to stand up and expose corruption within the university without fear of retaliation. If these professors are telling us they can't do that simple task, then the citizens of Illinois should seriously consider whether the law professors at U of I deserve tenure at all. If they're just going to be apologists for political corruption, I'm not sure what the point is.
7.6.2009 8:16am
Anonymous 3L:
Downfall: And not just apologists, but, aghast, victims themselves. Que Horror!
7.6.2009 8:31am
Eric Rasmusen (mail) (www):
No doubt clout matters in every public university. I wonder if that is because affirmative action is also universal? Because of affirmative action, which most professors support, universities keep their admission standards secret--- especially the qualifications of students at the bottom of the class. This makes it easy to hide political influence (and outright bribery too, though I haven't heard of any actual cases). The Americans with Disabilities Act has a similar effect, allowing special treatment for a favored class that allows other "special" students to slip in.
7.6.2009 9:19am
Please stop banning TtheCO:
I guess I will eventually bother reading the whole letter, but the paragraph you quoted, Adler, doesn't contain any argument. Just a whiney bunch of gratitous complaints of Tribune power. There must be something wrong with you or the letter writers or both, to serve up that vacuous content.
7.6.2009 9:24am
U.Va. Grad:
Eric Rasmusen - clout mattered in every public university long before there was affirmative action or the ADA. Neither changed that.
7.6.2009 9:24am
TL;DR:
Jonathon Adler calls it a “lengthy open letter” Emphasis on lengthy. Over 3,100 words. Over three-thousand one-hundred words. In fact, by my count, 3140 words—but let's not quibble over a word or forty. Your tools may come up with a slightly different number. I didn't count the words by eye and hand. So, round numbers, over 3,100 words.

You know about “TL;DR”? That's an abbreviation on the intarbogs. You find it in comments. Stands for “Too Long; Didn't Read”. Maybe you're out of the loop. It's only now breaking into the mainstream. A year from now, it'll be passé.

The law professor's open letter invites a “TL;DR” reaction. Indeed, Adler admits as much. He begs for attention. He's forced to write:
[Note: If you're going to comment on the substance of the letter, please read the whole thing before posting a comment.]

That's an admission. A good letter would pull you in. And Adler knows it.

TL;DR.
7.6.2009 9:34am
Houston Lawyer:
I don't get the whole "scandal" here. Law schools have been admitting the less qualified for as long as they have been around. The whole "affirmative action" system of admissions is dedicated to this principle.

The majority of voters in Illinois seem to believe that the sole reason for voting for anyone is to ensure that patronage continues. It may be ugly, when it it is all exposed, but surely it was not a surprise.
7.6.2009 9:41am
Prof. S. (mail):
First, I agree with most of the comments on here that it was too much whining and trying to get out through comparative blame (the "everyone else speeds too" attempt of an argument). I also found it laughable that they discounted the people who were denied a position at the law school to make room for those allowed in, acting as if these real (although nameless and faceless) people didn't exist.

More broadly, I found it funny that the professors have done nothing but identify the same problems that are in virtually every "investigative" news story we read these days. Yet, I highly doubt that the professors read other stories, particularly those that were published about the past administration or anyone else from a different political view, with such a questioning eye.

If they think that this is a non-story because everyone does it, then what do they call a letter simply noting that an "investigative" report reads things in a sensationalized and biased way?
7.6.2009 9:58am
erics (mail):
My favorite part:


University administrators make easy targets. They are after all academics -- mathematicians, philosophers, business scholars -- who must attempt to navigate the choppy waters of Illinois state politics. They themselves have no clout, and can be attacked in the press with relative impunity. Perhaps the Tribune's focus on them rather than on the state's politicians is due to the predictably lesser repercussions. Perhaps the Tribune realizes that saying of some of the state's most powerful politicians, "They swim in a 'sewer' that has a 'stink', a 'smell', a 'stain' characteristic of 'political corruption,' that their 'political heads will roll into history' like 'lonely bowling balls tossed down a dark alley," might not go so well for the Tribune or its staff.


Do these people forget that Patrick Fitzgerald has a tape of Rod Blagojevich speaking with his minions about how he might get the Tribune editorial staff fired for giving him a hard time? Do the letter writers really think the Tribune is scared of Illinois politicians?

This letter is merely a symptom of the corruption that infects all Illinois public institutions. The improprieties should be disconcerting if not shocking, but they are so common as to merit a great big humpf from Illinois citizens.

There is also something a bit sad about the letter writers and some comments here pawning this off as "no big deal . . . everyone does it" and then calling the Tribune a bunch of Pulizter chasers. Are we really supposed to implicitly laud the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for not investigating UM-Columbia for the same practices?

Finally, the whole "Admit this kid or lose funding" argument is bunk. I might be inclined to believe if someone can show me it has actually ever happened. Like voter fraud, I suspect the evidence is pretty thin gruel.
7.6.2009 10:03am
Eli Rabett (www):
It is not just public universities that are subject to such pressures. Private institutions receive a significant amount of public funding and depend on donations from well to do alumni. In the light of such favoritism, complaints about affirmative action are risible.
7.6.2009 10:08am
autolykos:

The problem is that you take your lumps and disappear and someone more pliant replaces you. For every dean that wants to play Don Quixote, there are 10 others willing to fall in line for a 3% annual funding boost from the legislature.


Perhaps I wasn't clear. I meant simply the effect of the media from the institutional perspective (particularly inasmuch as it puts pressure on the government officials who are driving the process to make changes).

I agree with you with respect to the university employees. A dean explicitly going against the political appointees who run the school would be quixotic, at best. I find the number of people castigating the dean for not running to the US Attorney's office particularly puzzling. Leaving aside what most people would do in a similar situation, it's not even clear that anything here is illegal (even if it should be).

As an aside, I'd be interested to know what triggered the Trib's inquiry. I wouldn't be surprised if it wasn't someone involved in the admissions process decided they'd had enough.
7.6.2009 10:15am
Please stop banning TtheCO:
You're just asserting that, rather than giving a numerical argument, Rabbit. Plus there's also shooting versus stabbing (shooting is worse, but doesn't make stabbing "risible".) Oh...and you still owe me a followup on thermo issues at Deltoid from years ago. Break out that copy of Atkins... :)
7.6.2009 10:18am
autolykos:

This leads us to an unstable condition in a democratic republic, once we introduce *expected* corruption, it becomes very hard to get rid of and only leads to more and more corruption, since the politicians who are corrupt are the ones that end up being protected as a result of their corruption. I don't know if this leads to an eventual equilibrium or if its a runaway reaction, but looking at the third world would suggest to me its a runaway process beyond a certain point.


You don't have to look at the third world. Just look at Chicago.
7.6.2009 10:18am
pt98 (mail):
Deeply unimpressive letter, substantively, stylistically, every which way.

A question for the professors out there: how much politics go into admissions on an ordinary basis for the ordinary state and private law schools? I have not way of knowing whether Illinios should have refused to play ball because that sort of thing just isn't done, or if this is just how all law schools play the game.

I once had a conversation with a law school ad comm member in a school that was forbidden to practice affirmative action, and the member said "they can never prove what thoughts we have in our brain." That seemed to me to be a likely attitude among ad comm members. So, how much ordinary politics go into law school admissions?
7.6.2009 10:40am
Cornellian (mail):
Calling the article "lengthy" is an understatement. Guess those old Law Review padding habits die hard. They didn't need to write a treatise to make what appears to be their one point - everyone does it so it's unfair to pick on us.
7.6.2009 10:45am
TRE:
Pathetic letter. They'd probably C a student who turned this in as an example of advocacy, unless they have a lot of clout of course!
7.6.2009 11:01am
Dave N (mail):
A "C"? That would be generous.
7.6.2009 11:02am
lucia (mail) (www):
[Note: If you're going to comment on the substance of the letter, please read the whole thing before posting a comment.]

The whole thing? Gosh that was a long letter.

I live in Illinois, subscribe to The Chicago Tribune, graduated from U of I and have been following the story.

I think the letter writers are mistaken when they claim the Tribune only heaps blame on UofI administrators. Politicians have also been named in the articles, as have specific people making requests. Recent articles are making connections between the politicians and fund raising by politically connected individuals who made calls to politicians requesting the politician help out a student applying for admission.

The stories in The Tribune may have repercussions at election time. This alone would make the story worth covering.

I also think the law professors are overlooking other reasons Tribune readers may be interested in many topics covered in the UofI clout list story. Some issues are not specifically related to individual corruption of either politicians or failings of adminsitrators, but simply describe the rather opaque process that applicants may use to request reconsideration in the event they are not admitted. Whether the law professors at the big U like it or not, the stories describing the existence of such a process, and how some learned about it while others who tried to learn of it were stonewalled has likely been of interest to students, parents, voters and taxpayers in Illinois.

Overall, if The Tribune's coverage of the story really matched that group of law professors' perceptions and characterizations, subscribers would probably not be be following the story. But subscribers are following the story, because, notwithstanding the law professors views, the subscribers think this is a story.
7.6.2009 11:05am
David M. Nieporent (www):
In the light of such favoritism, complaints about affirmative action are risible.
Ah, the usual non-sequitur of an argument from the left: if I can show there's some deviation from perfect meritocracy, then this somehow justifies racial discrimination. Somehow.
7.6.2009 11:28am
David M. Nieporent (www):
I think Mike&'s initial comments sum it up perfectly: this reads as if it was written by committee; a bunch of people each felt the need to have input, and so it ended up including every possible argument, no matter how trivial, no matter how much it undermined the thrust of the other arguments. It's especially embarrassing that law professors would generate this kind of nonsense; it's terrible advocacy technique. You make your strongest arguments; you don't throw in every theoretical alternative theory justifying your side.

The arguments that particularly undermined the rest were the ones where they said, essentially, "Hey, who knows, maybe these people weren't unqualified admittees at all; it's a judgment call, and who can say? Maybe the fact that powerful politicians liked them is actually a sign of merit!" and, "Merit, schmerit. We let in people based on geographic considerations, which isn't merit, so what's a little influence peddling, too?"
7.6.2009 11:35am
David M. Nieporent (www):
I'm less unsympathetic than some above to the professors' claim of victimhood; the schools really didn't have much choice, and while saying, "The administrators could have resigned" is true, admitting a couple of underqualified people a year hardly seems like a hill worth making a stand on. There are situations where refusing an order is the only moral choice, but this is hardly My Lai.

So an administrator refuses; he resigns rather than let the applicant in. Is that going to topple the politician who made the demand? Of course not. Is it going to end the practice of making such demands? No. But it will cost the dean his job, and/or cost the school some funding.


What I am entirely unsympathetic to, though, is the professors' claim of victimhood at the hands of the Tribune. If you're going to make moral compromises, even small ones, every so often you're going to get tarnished, and you can't complain when people point out that tarnish. That's just shooting the messenger.
7.6.2009 11:41am
DeezRightWingNutz:
I find it curious that more than one person has said that in this context, the "everyone does it" defense is bogus, just as when applied to speeding.

Maybe it's not a legal defense, but if traffic along the Dan Ryan is moving at 75 mph through a 55 zone, do you really think that going 55 is prudent? Isn't going with the speed of traffic in violation of the law the best course of action, at least for the safety of yourself and others (which, in my mind, makes it the ethical course of action)?
7.6.2009 11:56am
TRE:
Yes C is too generous but Fs really aren't given in law school nor Ds. I suppose it is possible.


About the "sarcasm."
You can definitely get summer jobs leading to full employment based solely on clout. Two connected people in my 1L class got summer jobs at Paul Hastings and King and Spaulding before they had taken their first exams.
7.6.2009 12:00pm
Nunzio:
Funny that not all the faculty signed on to this. Not suggesting that those who signed on were wrong to do so, but Andy Leipold's name isn't on this and he has a lot of integrity.

Also, the students who were denied admission in favor of the clouted are the victims, not the administrators, who were not the same as "victims" of a robbery. While the politicians deserve the lion's share of the blame, the administrators were not victims.
7.6.2009 1:19pm
Anonymous 3L:
Not to stir up controversy, but the more I read the letter the more I wonder if Prof. Adler actually read the whole thing.

Pardon the snark, but I really can't see anyone finding the letter even remotely persuasive.
7.6.2009 1:33pm
It's obvious:
... I really can't see anyone finding the letter even remotely persuasive.


The law professors weren't trying to pursuade!

OK. I don't know that for absolute sure. But it fits. Accuse me of falling for ‘truthiness’ all you like. It still fits the facts we know.

The law professors weren't trying to pursuade anyone.
7.6.2009 1:58pm
Mike& (mail):
The law professors weren't trying to pursuade anyone.


At the deepest level, this is true. The letter was about signaling. The letter was written primarily to kiss up to the Dean and other power players at the U of I. "We stand behind you all." Etc.
7.6.2009 2:01pm
It's obvious:
"We stand behind you all."


We stand behind you... all sharpening our knives.
7.6.2009 2:11pm
MCM (mail):
Mike&
Not at all. Read what Aristotle had to say about ethos and writing.


If I recall, ethos was one of three modes of persuasion. It simply doesn't make sense to dismiss someone entirely because you don't care for his tone.

Obviously, appeals to your moral character can persuade people - or at least not repulse them, as this letter does. But that doesn't mean an uninspiring speaker is actually wrong about anything. It just means the audience doesn't like them, which is a stupid basis for dismissing them.
7.6.2009 2:12pm
Curious Passerby (mail):
I grew up in Chicago and went to U of I both undergrad and law and learned that when you grow up in a corrupt system, people just accept it as a way of life. If your kid needs a job, or you get a speeding ticket, or the building inspector is hassling you, you call the alderman or state senator and you get help. Then you help out on election day or at a fundraiser.

I worked for the campaign of a reform candidate for mayor of Chicago when I was 19 but was so dismayed that people didn't want reform that I lost interest in politics.

When my father lost his job he called a state senator of the same nationality and got a good job with the state. But around election time he needed to help out.

I moved away, and when I called a friend from high school the other day to ask how he can keep voting for corrupt politicians he said corruption might add a few percent to the taxes, but he'd rather live in a system where you know how to get things done than one where the results are unsure.

Then there was the Chicago alderman who said something like "What's the world coming to when you have to give a job to a stranger rather than your son-in-law." In some people's minds an alderman or a senator should have some powers and rights because of his position, and should be able to help friends and family.

That people in Illinois prefer a corrupt system should be considered when we try to impose our ideals on places like Iraq.
7.6.2009 2:17pm
Please stop banning TtheCO:
It's interesting that we are talking about all this so near to July 4th. The founders put their sacred honor on the line. How about the law school profs and all the apologists like Pollard here. They also put their lives on the line and several fought in the war. I expect that in addition to tortured logic and apologetics that the Pollard types are also physical cowards. Unworthy of even being in this country.
7.6.2009 2:17pm
Curious Passerby (mail):
What really pissed me off about the U of I law was that my 1L Real Property teacher couldn't tell me how to prepare a deed, (said he used a lawyer) but he knew all about fee tails and fee simple determinable that would never come up in my lifetime. But I guess that's the same at all law schools.
7.6.2009 2:22pm
Please stop banning TtheCO:
Crap: Adler, not Pollard (maybe that was a Freudian slip). And the they refers to something a sentence back. Oh...well...I'm sure you all are great at grammar. Is defining and all that. Still chaps my ass the incredibleness of this country and the cockroachedyness of some of the posters here (but not Kerr or Ilya or the Volokhs...they're cool.)
7.6.2009 2:24pm
David M. Nieporent (www):
but he knew all about fee tails and fee simple determinable that would never come up in my lifetime.
...you mean never after the bar exam, of course.
7.6.2009 2:29pm
Please stop banning TtheCO:
I just read the entire email documents. Was that a better use of time or should I have read those whiney, effete lawyer-letter pages?

http://www.uillinois.edu/our/news/2009/June25.docs.pdf

123 pages for ya, Adler! Start reading.
7.6.2009 2:42pm
Curious Passerby (mail):
In the previous closed thread someone mentioned being first in line at city hall for a marriage license but having a politician's friend jump the line.

Same happened to me. I was at the Chicago city hall elections office door before it opened on the first day that 18-20 year olds could register to vote, back around 1971. But I could see through the glass door that a girl was already inside. Saw her photo in TIme magazine described as the daughter of a judge and the first to register to vote.
7.6.2009 3:23pm
Dan Weber (www):
What I am entirely unsympathetic to, though, is the professors' claim of victimhood at the hands of the Tribune.

Like most victims of bullying, they don't want more attention paid to them, because then the bullying just intensifies.

Parts of that thing just read too much like an abused spouse complaining about the cops investigating bruises.
7.6.2009 3:24pm
DaveJD (mail) (www):
I'm particularly fascinated by how tone deaf the law profs are to the outrage over this. Contrast, for example, the practically unanimous negative comments on the letter posted here with Brian Leiter's assessment: "It's quite damning, and rightly so."

Really? Y'all need some more air circulating up in that tower.

Except for a few posts here and there, there has been very little forthcoming from the law prof blogs on this, and not a single prof that I can tell has ventured to condemn the behavior. What a bunch of spineless weenies. Ribstein won't even moderate the comments on his post, which undoubtedly contains a lot of criticism from people not in the legal academy.
7.6.2009 4:48pm
mariner:
Doc Merlin:
This leads us to an unstable condition in a democratic republic, once we introduce *expected* corruption, it becomes very hard to get rid of and only leads to more and more corruption, since the politicians who are corrupt are the ones that end up being protected as a result of their corruption. I don't know if this leads to an eventual equilibrium or if its a runaway reaction, but looking at the third world would suggest to me its a runaway process beyond a certain point.

I believe it's a runaway reaction, and we're finding out that we've allowed it to pass the certain point.
7.6.2009 4:48pm
Illininot (mail):
Leiter has a second post up, in which he's incredulous that the ABA Journal reporter has the same take as the commenters here. For good measure, Leiter refers to us commenters as "bottomfeeders." Always good for a laugh!
7.6.2009 6:55pm
DaveJD (mail) (www):
Yeah, Brian Leiter's a legend in his own mind. Not surprised he found the reference to himself so quickly. As a former student of his and one of the best law student bloggers of all time pointed out, Leiter probably self-googles his name fairly often. He is also quite possibly the only blogger out there with more blogs than regular readers.
7.6.2009 7:23pm
TRE:
Lay off people, they were only following orders. :)
7.6.2009 7:43pm
DaveJD (mail) (www):
These guys are too much. Ribstein has decided that starting with his recent post on the UIUC faculty letter he will no longer accept comments. Leiter, of course, doesn't accept comments.

Bloggers have the right to decide whether they allow comments on their sites. The rest of us, however, have the right to think of them as sniveling weenies because they can't take the least bit of criticism.

I recently decried the fall-off in the quality of comments on Volokh. That was directed at the commenters themselves. I suppose props are due to the bloggers (minus Lindgren) for continuing to believe that their academic and educational aims are best served through a conversation, not a lecture, and for not describing the majority that disagrees with them as unratiocinative bottomfeeders.
7.6.2009 9:18pm
Desiderius:
Well, there is a marked lack of diversity in the comments offered on this post, so not the VC's finest hour. I was flummoxed as well by the quality/prolixity of arguments offered, and the decision to lead with a quote from Leiter of all people (and, for much of the letter, him alone) is, too say the least, insular to the extreme, but I left reading it with the impression that there is some there there. Don't know enough about the particulars to say much more.
7.6.2009 11:33pm
LarryA (mail) (www):
Yet there has been more criticism of the U. of I. than of the politicians who sought special treatment. Why is that?
Same reason there's much more criticism of lobbyists who influence legislation than politicians who allow themselves to be influenced, and much more criticism of campaign contributors who bribe politicians than the politicians who take the contributions. The effect extends to the legislation passed to "clean up" the situation, which invariably contains heavy regulation for lobbyists and donors, but none for the politicians.
7.7.2009 2:59am
lucia (mail) (www):
Today's Tribune ran an update. Though Heidi's email admitting the negotiations over jobs may have been sarcastic, it turns out that Chancellor Herman did negotiate for jobs for law grads.

I guess that just because someone admits something using a sarcastic tone doens't mean it they didn't do the thing.
7.7.2009 9:09am
Please stop banning TtheCO:
Agreed, minx. And commenters, just read up and follow the link that I made to the 123 (!) pages of email traffic. There is a lot more that was released (in June) than what is in the Trib. All you have to do is look at that primary information and it will be obvious that Heidi was flippant (prefer that to sarcastic) about her transgressions.
7.7.2009 11:11am
Eric Rasmusen (mail) (www):
How about having a rule that the high school transcript, ACT, and SAT scores of every student admitted to a university be published on the web? This would, of course, require notification to potential applicants that they may only apply if they are willing to make their records public. It would achieve the same thing as public bids for contracts, however--- of making corruption and favoritism easier to detect.

Private universities could do it too. I think we'd find that alumni preferences at the top schools are tiny relative to affirmative action preferences--- but we'd know for sure, which is a good thing. And if voters and private school "owners" (alumni, faculty, whatever) are still willing to keep the policies once they're made transparent, I'd be less unhappy about them.

Any objections?
7.7.2009 11:32am
Objector:
     ...a rule....

Any objections?


FERPA.

Thus the immediate objection is specifically to a “rule”.

I'll reserve for later any potential objections to a new public policy, or law implementing that policy.
7.7.2009 12:05pm
Eric Rasmusen (mail) (www):
FERPA does permit voluntary release, I think (or does it?) Does FERPA forbid publication as a condition of admission?
7.7.2009 1:18pm
Anonime (mail):
Is apparent from both the WSJ Law Blog and the Trib that the original author of the Illinois faculty letter was none other than Michael Moore, Dean Heidi Hurd's (former) husband. Can we all now understand why the letter was tin-eared, ad hominem and a signal to kiss up to the dean? No big surprises there. Astounding!
7.9.2009 2:36am
pot meet kettle (mail):
Jonathan Adler, it might interest you to meet my friend, Jonathan Adler who can divine enough about motives of letter signatories to know what they don't know even when he only knows those who do know.
7.9.2009 9:18pm

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