Well-known enemy of academic freedom and pathological liar David Horowitz (for details and documentation of this man's history of malfeasance, go here and keep scrolling down) has produced a new study purporting to show that registered Democrats outnumber Republicans 8 to 1 at leading law schools. Some observations:
1. Given Mr. Horowitz's partisan dishonesty about almost all topics he touches, one should hesitate before crediting his results. This is not to say the 8:1 figure is surprising; indeed, one might think it surprising the ratio isn't even more skewed, given the fringe lunatics and anti-intellectuals who now run the Republican Party in the U.S.
2. Let us assume the results are credible: what do they mean? Note, first, that only slightly more than half of the 1,021 faculty at the 10 schools surveyed were registered at all. There is no reason to think that those not registered have similar political loyalties, since one likely explanation for not registering is that one finds the available alternatives either too conservative or too liberal. I am not a registered Democrat, though I have voted for Democrats, as well as Libertarians, and others. Many of my friends and colleagues who are far more conservative than I am are not registered Republicans, either because they are libertarians or because they find the current Republican party unrecognizable from the one they joined in the era of Nelson Rockefeller and Jacob Javitts. In short, the results may understate or overstate how "liberal" the legal academy is: we simply don't know. (Of course, given that the current Democratic Party is to the right of Richard Nixon on most issues of domestic economic and social policy, one might think the results establish how conservative the legal academy has become.)
3. In addition to being generally dishonest, Mr. Horowitz is also, happily, stupid. If you scrutinize his results, you will see he reports the University of Chicago--which has about 35 full-time faculty--as having 55 Democrats and 8 Republicans. What this means, of course, is that Horowitz and his co-author must have also counted clinical faculty, part-time faculty, adjuncts, etc. (despite claiming not to have done so). Since most, not all, clinical faculty work in public interest fields that attract Democrats, including them in the pool will, of course, change the results quite dramatically.
For more on the fundamental silliness of these studies, see my earlier remarks here.