"Objectivity" in law and hiring

Scott Gerber s-gerber at onu.edu
Wed Aug 31 14:33:43 PDT 2005


I seem to recall that Lynne Henderson acknowledged a year or two ago on
this list, albeit by accidentally hitting the "send" button, that law
schools try not to hire conservatives and they would be "crazy" (or "nuts")
to change that practice.

Scott Gerber



At 05:16 PM 8/31/2005 -0400, Mortimer Sellers wrote:
>It is hard to apply objective standards in making hiring decisions if one
does not believe in objectivity.  There has been a great deal of writing by
law professors denigrating the desirability (or possibility) of
"objectivity" in discussing legal questions.  If objectivity is seen  by
many law professors as chimerical or even oppressive, we should not be
surprised that they do not strive to apply objectively justifiable criteria
in their hiring practices.  If (as many seem to believe) law is just
another form of politics, why shouldn't people hire their political allies
when they get the chance?  The same rationale applies to Supreme Court
appointments, legal interpretation and many other questions of interest to
this list.
>
>       Tim Sellers
>
>
>-----Original Message-----
>From:	Lynne Henderson [mailto:hendersl at ix.netcom.com]
>Sent:	Wed 8/31/2005 3:59 PM
>To:	Mortimer Sellers; Barksdale,Yvette; Earl Maltz; conlawprof at lists.ucla.edu
>Cc:	
>Subject:	RE: Re: party affiliations of law profs
>
>In any event, assuming tht other academic discplines just *are* more
"objective" seems belied by studies of subtle (or not so subtle) biases in
fields ragning from the humaniteis to the social sciences to the hard
sciences.
>Lynne Henderson
>
>-----Original Message-----
>From: Mortimer Sellers <msellers at ubalt.edu>
>Sent: Aug 31, 2005 11:13 AM
>To: "Barksdale, Yvette" <7barksda at jmls.edu>, 
>	Earl Maltz <emaltz at camden.rutgers.edu>, conlawprof at lists.ucla.edu
>Subject: RE: Re: party affiliations of law profs
>
>Might it not be that the standards for what constitutes a good law
professor are less objective and therefore more manipulable than in some
other academic fields?  There are many more people who meet the minimum
standard for teaching law (completing their J.D. degree) than in most other
academic disciplines, which require more substantial research and
preparation. There are also fewer objective requirements for promotion and
tenure in law schools(all that is needed are a few student-selected
articles).  One of the great beauties of being a law professor is the
breadth of what counts as legitimate scholarship.  But this also makes it
easier for those already in place to replicate themselves by hiring people
whose political views they agree with.  The "harder" (i.e more objective)
the discipline (e.g. mathematics), the more diverse the family backgrounds
and political views of the professors teaching the subject.
>
>-----Original Message-----
>From: conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu
>[mailto:conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu]On Behalf Of Barksdale, Yvette
>Sent: Wednesday, August 31, 2005 1:38 PM
>To: Earl Maltz; conlawprof at lists.ucla.edu
>Subject: RE: Re: party affiliations of law profs
>
>
>Hi  - 
> 
>Did the authors of the study compare law professors to other professors.
It is certainly plausible that liberals might be more likely to enter
academia in general than conservatives. For example, economic conservatives
may be more interested in accruing wealth, than shuffling through dusty
library stacks (okay nobody does this anyway since the Internet age).
Social conservatives who believe that there are clear, certain, fundamental
truths may be less comfortable with the spirit of skeptical inquiry that is
the hallmark of academia.  This may not be a law professor issue - as much
as a professor vs. real-life job issue.
> 
>(of course, you might also say that people searching for truth end up
being liberals in the end - smile)
> 
>yb
>
>________________________________
>
>From: conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu on behalf of Earl Maltz
>Sent: Wed 8/31/2005 10:25 AM
>To: conlawprof at lists.ucla.edu
>Subject: Fwd: Re: party affiliations of law profs
>
>
>
>
>>Date: Wed, 31 Aug 2005 11:00:06 -0400
>>To: "Sanford Levinson" <SLevinson at law.utexas.edu>
>>From: Earl Maltz <emaltz at camden.rutgers.edu>
>>Subject: Re: party affiliations of law profs
>>
>>I don't seem to remember a noticeable right wing shift in the legal
>>academy during the Clinton years.
>>
>>At 09:27 AM 8/31/2005 -0500, you wrote:
>>>Content-class: urn:content-classes:message
>>>Content-Type: multipart/alternative;
>>>         boundary="----_=_NextPart_001_01C5AE38.2AAA0877"
>>>
>>>Is it relevant to suggest that if Al Gore had been recognized as the
>>>winner of the 2000 election (which of course he was), a lot of liberal
>>>lawProfessors would be in gov't or on the bench, leaving lots of
>>>positions to be filled with conservatives (who didn't prefer private
>>>practice or affiliation with well-funded conservative think tanks?  A lot
>>>of conservatives have better things to do these days than enter the legal
>>>academy.  This is not meant to disagree with Mark's observations, which
>>>seem right to me, but to offer another explanation than the vast
>>>left-wing hiring conspiracy.
>>>
>>>Sandy
>>>
>>>
>>>- Sanford Levinson
>>>(Sent from a Blackberry)
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**********
Scott Gerber
Law College
Ohio Northern University
Ada, OH 45810
419-772-2219
http://www.law.onu.edu/faculty/gerber/



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