April 17, 2024

Law faculty contributions to political candidates

Notre Dame lawprof Derek Muller compiled data for the period 2017 to early 2023 (so during the Trump era), and I was surprised by how many contributed to Republicans, given the condition of that party, although this fits with the general perception of the American legal academy as conservative by global standards.  Most Republican supporters in the academy I know are motivated by the hope that something of the libertarian policy agenda still survives, but perhaps that's only true of faculty at the law schools I know best.  I note that according to additional data from Professor Muller, the highest percentage of Republican donors are at religious law schools--and even there, there are relatively few donors overall.   Of course, it bears remembering that donating to Mitch Romney is not like donating to Ted Cruz, and donating to Sherrod Brown is not like donating to Joe Manchin, so just looking at "Democratic" and "Republican" donations is not really that informative.



April 17, 2024 in Faculty News, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

April 11, 2024

Some Berkeley law students have lost their minds

A measured statement from Dean Chemerinsky describing recent bad behavior at his law school.  It's pretty clear what's going on:  students who feel impotent in the face of the horrors in Gaza are taking it out on a symbolic representative, i.e., their Jewish Dean.  There's a word for that, and it's not one that reflects well on them.

April 11, 2024 in Of Academic Interest | Permalink

April 10, 2024

Representative Foxx continues her attack on the constitutional rights of public university faculty...

...now targetting Rutgers University and law professor Sahar Aziz in particular.    There's a good letter from law professors in response here.

April 10, 2024 in Of Academic Interest | Permalink

April 04, 2024

Reductio of originalism out of the 5th Circuit

Dueling was fine with the framers, ergo....   The problem with originalism is that it's unclear why anyone should care what those long dead people thought.  There are other ways to effectuate separation of powers without tethering the present to the dead hand of a somewhat creepy past.

UPDATE:  I was April Fooled, although that says something about the Fifth Circuit.  But the point about originalism still stands!

April 4, 2024 in Of Academic Interest | Permalink

April 03, 2024

Not an April Fool's joke: Yale Law School hires an experienced and talented lawyer to the regular faculty

After being demoted to the 6th best law school in the country last year by USNEWS.COM, things seem to be changing!  Jokes aside, Mr. West is very talented, but what's remarkable is that YLS hired him:  a smart, articulate lawyer who knows a ton of law, and (I am told) is "conservative" (whatever that means).  Historically, YLS rookie hires of their own have not always worked out that well (Akhil Amar is one famous exception), but I imagine this will be another exception.  What explains it?  Dean Heather Gerken wants to be President of Yale?   Or leave behind some of the embarrassments of recent years?  In any case congratulations to Mr. West and to Yale!

April 3, 2024 in Faculty News, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

March 12, 2024

University of New Hampshire Law School fires tenured professor in violation of her First Amendment and academic freedom rights


Professor Ann Bartow, an intellectual property scholar and tenured professor, has been fired by the law school at the University of New Hampshire.   As the faculty union puts it:

The record is clear. The University of New Hampshire fired Professor Ann Bartow, a long-time tenured professor of law, after years of conflict driven by Professor Bartow’s speech critical of the UNH Law administration. As the University conceded, this speech was unambiguously protected by the First Amendment, New Hampshire law, and bedrock principles of academic freedom. The University’s decision to disregard these protections and fire Professor Bartow represents a grave threat to professors in New Hampshire and elsewhere.

UNH lawprof Roger Ford, who is the union representative, has made all documents available on this website.  I am quite familiar with this case:   the conduct of UNH, and especially its Dean, is beyond outrageous. (Professor Bartow made only one small mistake [contacting a prospective faculty member, as a courtesy to a friend, who was slated to teach a course she might have taught, to explain that she had filed a grievance against the university about teaching assignment], but it could not possibly justify termination.)  The only person, I can see on the record, who should be fired is the Dean.  Professor Mark Lemley calls my attention to a petition to boycott UNH if they do not reverse this decision.  It has been circulated initially among IP professors, but I would encourage every law professor to sign, as I have.   The behavior of the UNH administration is so beyond the pale, that if it stands, many others will be at risk.

UPDATE:   Talking to colleagues here and elsewhere, I now realize that if one reads only the arbitrator's decision, one will have a very incomplete picture of what transpired.  One needs to read the union's brief to get a real sense for what was going on at UNH.  The arbitrator left out quite a lot, to put it mildly.  (Link fixed.)

March 12, 2024 in Faculty News, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

March 05, 2024

Non-JD enrollment at "top 20ish" law schools

My former Texas colleague John Dzienkowski calls my attention to this astonishing chart showing non-JD enrollment (mostly LLM and SJD enrollment) at some leading law schools.   LLM students are usually paying tuition, and are invisible to USNews.com rankings.   Penn, which is half the size of Harvard, has as many non-JD students, which is extraordinary.  So too is the non-JD enrollment at Northwestern, and USC.   The zero figure for Michigan must be an error.

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March 5, 2024 in Of Academic Interest, Rankings | Permalink

February 28, 2024

ABA revisits "diversity" standard in wake of SCOTUS ruling on affirmative action at universities

The Blog Emperor has the basics (14 "identity" factors under consideration!).

February 28, 2024 in Legal Profession, Of Academic Interest | Permalink

February 27, 2024

An observation on law review submission season...

...from lawprof Paul Horwitz (Alabama).  You have to read the whole thing!

(Thanks to Orin Kerr for flagging it on Twitter.)

February 27, 2024 in Of Academic Interest | Permalink

February 26, 2024

Penn faculty hearing board recommended sanctions for Amy Wax last summer; she is appealing


The recommended sanctions consist in "a one-year suspension at half pay, the removal of her named chair and summer pay, and a requirement for Wax to note in public appearances that she is not speaking on behalf or as a member of Penn Carey Law."  Only the last requirement (that she make clear she does not speak for the law school) is unproblematic.  It is unclear at this stage what precise "behavior" prompted the other sanctions, but it seems almost certain that Penn is punishing her for her offensive extramural speech, which is protected by her academic freedom rights.  (As I have noted before, only two incidents could, in principle, be sanctioned consistent with her academic freedom rights:  her denigration of the competence of an identifiable segment of the Penn student body [which was already sanctioned by then Dean Ruger]; and her invitation of a racist know-nothing to a law school class.  I strongly suspect the sanctions were not confined to these incidents.)

If Professor Wax loses her appeal, I would expect her to sue for breach of contract.

UPDATE:   Here is the letter from the "Hearing Board" to former President Magill regarding Professor Wax.  The only portion that isn't obviously outrageous is the section on violations of student privacy (although Professor Wax's attorney also disputes that in the appeal.)  The rest of the letter was written by someone with no knowledge of the law of academic freedom.   Almost all the evidence of "unprofessional" conduct involves extramural speech, which is not covered by the standards applicable in professional scholarship or pedagogy:   this is just a breathtaking confusion about core AAUP academic freedom principles, which vitiates almost the entire letter.   (Much of the evidence in Appendices 2 and 3, by the way, was not confirmed by the independent investigator retained by former Penn Law Dean Ruger [see item #3 here], yet is repeatedly invoked in the letter.)  (Thanks to Ed Rock for the pointer.)

(Here are the members of the Hearing Board.  Professor Wax's appeal, above, reports that Penn law professor Anita Allen addressed the Hearing Board; unfortunately, her views on academic freedom under the AAUP standards are also completely mistaken.  If they influenced the Board, this will be another disaster for Penn when this lands in court.)

February 26, 2024 in Faculty News, Of Academic Interest, Professional Advice | Permalink