Dan Gillmor

University of California Shames Itself

UPDATED

UC-Irvine has rescinded the hiring (LA Times) of a new law school dean who holds well-known views on key legal issues, because, the chancellor claims, “he felt the law professor’s commentaries were ‘polarizing’ and would not serve the interests of California’s first new public law school in 40 years.”

UPDATE: He’s now been rehired — but the school officials still won’t explain why they rescinded the hiring in the first place.

This doesn’t pass the smell test. Erwin Chemerinsky, the not-dean who has been teaching at Duke University, says the real reason was conservative pressure. Chancellor Michael Drake’s reasoning is, if you read it carefully, a non-denial denial.

As another law school dean noted, the Erwin Chemerinsky, the not-dean who has been teaching at Duke University, is well known for liberal views: “That’s been true for as long as I’ve known him. It’s rather like discovering that Wilt Chamberlain was tall.”

Chemerinsky’s positions aren’t the relevant issue. This would be just as outrageous if UC Berkeley (where I have a part-time gig) fired a conservative scholar for nothing more than holding views deemed polarizing. What does matter is the university’s cowardly decision. It’s shameful.