clerks and justices!
jlindgren at WORLDNET.ATT.NET
Tue Apr 24 00:59:00 PDT 2001
Laura Kalman asks some interesting questions. I don't know whether there has
in fact been a shift in the professoriate toward conservatives. It's been a
while since I crunched data from the 1969 (and later) Carnegie reports, but I
think it was pretty much the same then as now in terms of
conservative/liberal. If there has been a shift, it's a small one and only
in the last few years. Actually, my recollection is that the mix of
left/right, liberal/conservative stayed pretty constant in law schools from
the late 1960s through the late 1980s, but the left identified itself as more
to the left in the later surveys, so there was a slight shift to the left in
My (survey-based) estimates for the mid 1990s for the top 100 law schools
were 13% Republican and leaning Republican and 80% Democratic and leaning
I think that the big difference is not numbers, but influence. The
Republicans in the 1960s on law faculties tended to be older and less
political. The right is not quiet or ashamed to be on the right any more.
The right has more ideas than it had in the 1960s, when the left had a near
monolopy of interesting ideas.
There is definitely an increase in publicly prominent faculty on the right,
but not a big increase in Republican faculty numbers (I think). I have been
in academics since 1979 (at the ABF) and in law teaching since 1982 (starting
at CT). In all these years with perhaps 3 dozen hires, only 4 Republicans
have been hired on the permanent faculties I'm was on, 3 of those hires
happening in the last 5 years.
So only 2 Harvard law profs didn't vote for McGovern in 1972. One prof there
told me that he asked all the supposed conservatives there in 1988 who they
voted for and only one voted for Bush. I don't know much about the politics
of the Harvard faculty. It has grown, certainly, over the years and become
a little more politically diverse, but quadrupling from 2 Republicans on a 60
person faculty is still pretty few.
My impression (which I'm sure someone will correct if I'm wrong) is that
Stanford has very few conservatives; Arizona has very few conservatives; and
Buffalo has very few conservatives. Despite Eugene V.'s influence, I don't
think UCLA has very many conservatives. The top schools that seem
politically diverse to me are Virginia, Chicago, Northwestern, and perhaps a
few others--schools that are thought of as conservative, even though they all
probably have more people who lean left or Democratic than lean right or
Republican. Also, conservatives probably have more influence at all three
schools than their numbers would suggest.
Because the federal judiciary is much more politically diverse than the law
schools (or the press) and much closer politically to the general public than
the law school professoriate, it probably looks pretty conservative from our
vantage point in the law schools. And of course the Supreme Court is more
conservative than most of the rest of the federal judiciary.
As to the uselessness of the terms "liberal" or "conservative," they are the
single best markers for viewpoints across a wide range of issues, nosing out
race and religion.
Laura Kalman wrote:
> is there any way we could get a little more systematic on this
> clerk-justice hiring? i've always been interested in it. i would think
> that until the early l970s, the legal academy was pretty comfortably
> liberal. i think something like all but two harvard law school faculty
> members identified themselves as mcgovern supporters in l972. i know that
> doesn't necessarily mean they were liberals, but it tells us something.
> and the court at that time, mark would say, was the brennan court. and
> posner may have shared in the liberal consensus at that point in his
> life--i just don't know.
> of course, i know someone is going to say "liberal,"
> "conservative"--these are useless terms. but if we did this, we could at
> least have a potentially interesting discussion of terminology!lk
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