Funding of Chicago-Kent Symposium on the Second Amendment:
As a former member of the Chicago-Kent faculty, I thought I would add some background on the issues raised by David Hardy (and commented on here by Eugene) concerning the funding of the symposium on the Second Amendment that appeared in the Chicago-Kent Law Review.

I was one of the faculty members instrumental in converting the Chicago-Kent Law Review from a normal law review—in a short essay I dubbed it a "moot law review"—into an "all-symposium" law review with faculty editors. In addition to eschewing submitted articles in favor of soliciting writings to be written for symposia, each issue would have a faculty editor whose principal responsibilities were proposing a topic, inviting the authors, writing a foreword, and sheparding the writing of the papers. Another innovation was that both the faculty editors and the contributing authors were paid an honorarium. In the beginning all faculty editors were to be outside the Chicago-Kent faculty, but eventually this policy was relaxed and some editors were in house. I myself organized two symposium issues. The first was on the Ninth Amendment; the second (edited with Jules Coleman) was on "Post-Chicago Law and Economics." As a result of these reforms, the Chicago-Kent Law Review went from a journal that no one ever read to one of the top-cited scholarly journals in the country.

Given this institutional arrangement, there is nothing untoward about an outside faculty editor, like Professor Carl Bogus, being paid to organize a symposium issue in which he and the authors are paid honoraria.

Of course, all honoraria were originally paid by the law school, not by a foundation, but again I see no problem with this practice, so long as the law school does not cede to the foundation editorial control of the issue that is published in the law school's name.

When I saw an announcement for the Second Amendment symposium funded by the Joyce Foundation, what immediately struck me was the completely one-sided composition of the contributors. So I contacted a former colleague of mine at Chicago-Kent and offered to participate as a commentator, provided I was given the same remuneration as other presenters. I also offered to recruit some other scholars who would represent some diversity of opinion. My erstwhile colleague said this was not possible. The first reason he offered for this was the supposed lack of civility between pro- and anti-individual rights scholars. When I objected to this reason, it became clear that this was not the real rationale. Later, Carl Bogus told me (as he has subsequently written elsewhere) that the lack of balance was intentional and meant to counter the overwhelming dominance of the individual rights position. The idea, he said, was to work out the alternative paradigm with scholars who were dissenters from the individual rights position and provide fresh thinking:
We felt that, for a variety of reasons, the collective rights model was under represented in the debate, and wanted to give scholars an opportunity to enhance or further illuminate the collective rights position. Sometimes a more balanced debate is best served by an unbalanced symposium. I did not, therefore, invite anyone who I knew subscribed to the individual rights model.
This saga raises a number of questions that scholars ought to ponder:

Is accepting honoraria for writing papers unethical? For obvious reasons, I strongly reject this position. Legal scholars are entitled as anyone else to be paid for their work, and to choose to participate in a program, which they might otherwise decline to do were they not paid.

Is accepting honoraria from a foundation, like the Joyce Foundation, that will support only one side of an issue unethical? So long as one does not change one's views to conform to the funding source's preferences, I do not think so (though I do think one should disclose one's funding sources to allow readers to evaluate for themselves whatever impact it may have on one's analysis). I do not see why foundations who wish to advance a particular view cannot ethically support the research of those who otherwise agree with its agenda. Ultimately, the soundness of one's scholarship should depend on the reasons and evidence one puts forth, not the source of any financial support one may have received. I think this is true even if the honoraria induced a scholar to write about an issue he or she would not otherwise have done, which I think probably applies to a number of contributors to the Second Amendment symposium. I feel the same way about campaign contributions. Contributing money to the campaign of politicians with whom one agrees does not corrupt the politician, unless he or she was already corrupt. Michael Bellesiles, who was paid to contribute to the Chicago-Kent symposium did not fabricate his evidence because the Joyce Foundation was paying him. He was a corrupt scholar before and after this payment was made.

Was Chicago-Kent at Fault for Publishing This Symposium? Here I think the answer is probably yes. Chicago-Kent, and the journal it publishes, purports to be an academic institution committed to the pursuit of truth. It is not an advocacy group, and it publishes an academic law review that benefits from the perception that it is not an advocacy journal. By mounting a deliberately one-sided symposia it did a disservice to its readers, its academic community, and most especially to its students who were free to attend what was a deliberately one-sided conference.

I also think that accepting funds from a foundation that limits the participants to those holding a particular view is in conflict with its mission as an academic institution. If the Joyce Foundation limited participation to one side of this academic dispute, or if Chicago-Kent did not bother to know that this money could only be spent to fund one side of the dispute, then it made a serious mistake. There are indications that the Joyce Foundation refuses to have any dissenting voices included in its programs. Indeed, it is reported to have protested the appearance at Chicago-Kent of a pro-individual rights speaker within a few weeks of its symposium. The Joyce Foundation also supports the Second Amendment Research Center at Ohio State. When I asked its director, Saul Cornell, in an email exchange if any participants in its academic programs could advocate the individual rights position, he responded that he would obtain separate funding to permit that to happen. I took that as an indication that Joyce does put strings on its funding. (David Hardy quotes and links to the mission statement of the Joyce Foundation here.)

While there is nothing unethical about an advocacy group like the Joyce Foundation running one-sided programs—it is done all the time by groups on all sides of every issue—I think this sort of advocacy funding is inconsistent with the scholarly mission of an academic institution like Chicago-Kent or Ohio State. Imagine the effect on the institution's reputation if not only the funding, but the implicit or explicit strings were disclosed. This is an indication that accepting funding with substantive strings attached is improper for an academic institution.

To be clear, I do not think that the source of funding, and the bias of the resulting program makes it unethical for a scholar to accept an honorarium from an institution that has compromised its academic integrity in this way. Nor does one-sided funding necessarily compromise the integrity of a scholar's work-product, which should be judged on the merits of its arguments and evidence. Again, there is nothing wrong with seeking research funding from sources who agree with your approach, or a foundation seeking to support and encourage scholara who are sympathetic to its approach.

But there is a big difference between the work product of an individual scholar, and the collective work product represented by a symposium sponsored by an academic institution like Chicago-Kent. This issue not only is weaker intellectually than it might have been, but it falsely suggests a uniformity of opinion on the subject it examines. Since the symposium was open to Chicago-Kent students, I wonder if they were informed that the program was deliberately designed to be one-sided. Aren't students (or readers of the law review) entitled to know that they are being provided a deliberately biased stream of information? Here I think the fault and discredit lies entirely with the academic institution.

What is Value of Diversity in an Academic Institution? I think the Second Amendment symposium issue suffers not from its funding, but from the one-sided intellectual process that produced it, regardless of whether it resulted from foundation strings, or simply the strategy of its organizers. Ultimately, with no knowledgeable dissenters at its conference pointing out inconvenient evidence—of which there is a great deal—the arguments it presents are necessarily less informed and weaker than they would otherwise be. Certainly they are less informed than an academic institution like Chicago-Kent would want it to be. I believe this was the case with this issue of the Chicago-Kent Law Review, though I have not read it in its entirety. In contrast, when I organized a symposium on the Ninth Amendment, I was careful to invite scholars who would be expected to (and did) take widely divergent views on its meaning and relevance.

Indeed, the Federalist Society—which does not purport to be anything other than a viewpoint-driven organization—consistently strives for diversity on its programs. Its conferences routinely feature divergent opinions on each panel. When inviting speakers to campus, students are encouraged to arrange debates or solicit critical commentators from their own faculties. Those participants in its programs who have different views are treated cordially and respectfully, sometimes to their great surprise. The programs that result from this diversity are far more interesting, and of better quality, because of this planned diversity. An academic institution like Chicago-Kent should strive to do no less.