Brian Leiter's Law School Reports

Brian Leiter
University of Chicago Law School

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Which Top Law Faculties are the Most Conservative These Days?

This data--contributions to political candidates during the 2008 Presidential election by law faculty--is hardly decisive, but it certainly fits with what I know about the faculties in question.  100% of donations by law faculty at Harvard, Chicago, Michigan, Stanford, Texas, Berkeley, and Penn went to Democrats, 0% to Republicans.  (Penn is the main surprise here, since a quarter-to-a-third of the tenured faculty there are, last time I looked, Republicans.  But I guess eight years of Republican wreckage is too much even for them.) 

By contrast, 64.7% of donations by Northwestern law faculty went to Republicans, a mere 35.3% to Democrats. 

Since elite law faculty are typically both more educated and more cosmopolitan than the average voter, these results are hardly surprising given the current condition of the Republican Party.**   Even the Northwestern result is mainly an artifact of maximum donations by just two faculty, both well-known and hardcore conservative activists:  Steven Calabresi and John McGinnis.

Of course, it's always wise to remember the severe limitations of these kinds of studies.

UPDATE:  Regarding the current condition of the Republican Party.  This is not likely to inspire more academics, even conservative ones, to start forking over cash.

**In fairness, I should note two exceptions to this generalization, i.e., not only highly educated but actually rather smart academics who still vote for and support Republicans.  First, there are those whose religious beliefs and traditions continue to make the Republicans the more attractive party.  Second, there are those who think that economic issues--in particular, low taxes and deregulated markets--are the most important issues.  The latter camp includes a number of my libertarian friends, who otherwise find the Republican Party in its current theocratic incarnation an embarrassment.  In any case, as longtime readers know, baiting right-wing bloggers is something I do every now and then when I need to boost traffic so Blog Emperor Caron will pay me more!  Speaking of which, Todd Zywicki (George Mason) looks at this data and then offers an explanation of why he is not at Harvard while "'well-behaved' conservatives who aren't going to rock the boat or otherwise challenge the prevailing culture" (I guess he means Jack Goldsmith and Adrian Vermeule, among others) are.  "House conservatives" I guess we could call them!

EGADS the worthless and now dated GSS data has appeared again, though several of Professor Bainbridge's commenters, happily, identify its irrelevance.  As I wrote the last time this irrelevant data appeared:  "If being well-off financially is correlated with (causally connected with?) being Republican; and being well-off financially is correlated with (causally connected with?) having the right educational credentials; then we would have a correlation but not a case of causation."  And need we add:  not all degrees are equal, not even in the same field.

AND ONE MORE:  The bait has been taken!  I now owe Ann, Steve, and even Glenn a drink! 

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