UC Irvine Aborts Hiring Chemerinsky

Gordon Silverstein gsilver at berkeley.edu
Thu Sep 13 17:50:14 PDT 2007


The plot gets more interesting, actually ....

Today's LA Times adds a wrinkle ... the issue, according to UCI Chancellor,
is that Chemerinsky explicitly agreed to avoid the public limelight, not
write any opinion pieces (left right or center) and focus on institutional
construction ... and on the day of the contract signing, he published a
strongly worded op-ed in the LA Times concerning the death penalty
violating, in UCI's eyes, that pledge

UCI says the issue is their loss of confidence in his pledge to stay out of
the political limelight, right, left or center ....

Dean Christopher Edley, here at Boalt, by the way, has now formally and
publicly come in on the side of UCI, saying that he too agreed to tone down
his public political profile when he took the job as a law school dean ... a
price, he argues, is appropriate for an institutional leader in contrast to
a price that should never be applied to a professor.

More to come, no doubt ....

(as to the constitutional question, I suspect his contract was much like
those most UC people sign ... full of caveats that the contract is not final
until it has been approved by the Board of Regents) ... so the issue would
be just how close to a binding contract were they? Further, I suspect that
Dean's contracts, unlike professors, likely look quite a bit like Cabinet
Officers -- they serve at the pleasure of the Chancellor ?


- Gordon Silverstein


 

-----Original Message-----
From: conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu
[mailto:conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu] On Behalf Of William Funk
Sent: Thursday, September 13, 2007 5:34 PM
To: 'ConLawProf'
Subject: RE: UC Irvine Aborts Hiring Chemerinsky

Everyone seems to say that this was a prudential error by UC Irvine.  I'm
asking whether it was unconstitutional.  Clearly, in a state law school, you
could not undo a contract with a new professor, because after signing the
contract you decided that the person was too left or too right.  Is a law
school dean a political appointee, like a cabinet officer or personal staff
to an elected official or political appointee, where we recognize some right
to choose people in light of their politics?  I hadn't thought so.
Bill Funk
Lewis & Clark Law School

> -----Original Message-----
> From: conlawprof-bounces at lists.ucla.edu [mailto:conlawprof- 
> bounces at lists.ucla.edu] On Behalf Of Gilbert, Lauren
> Sent: Wednesday, September 12, 2007 2:11 PM
> To: ConLawProf
> Subject: UC Irvine Aborts Hiring Chemerinsky
> 
> This just in from another listserve ....
> 
> Lauren Gilbert
> Associate Professor of Law
> St. Thomas University School of Law
> 
> 
> >From the Los Angeles Times - 12:07 PM PDT, September 12, 2007
> 
> 
> Too liberal for UCI?
> 
> 
> UC Irvine aborts hiring Chemerinsky as law school dean The 
> constitutional scholar says university officials told him the deal was 
> off to head the new school because he was too 'politically 
> controversial.'
> 
> By Garrett Therolf and Henry Weinstein Los Angeles Times Staff Writers
> 
> 
> Just days after he signed a contract to become the first dean of UC 
> Irvine's new law school, Erwin Chemerinsky was told this week that the 
> deal was off because he was too "politically controversial."
> 
> Chemerinsky said in an interview today that UC Irvine Chancellor 
> Michael V. Drake had flown to North Carolina on Tuesday and told him 
> at a hotel near the airport that that he did not realize the extent to 
> which there were "conservatives out to get me."
> 
> Chemerinsky, one of the nation's best known constitutional scholars 
> and a professor at Duke University in Durham, N.C., said he signed a 
> contract last week after being offered the job Aug. 16. He said he had 
> lined up a board of advisors for the new school, including the deans 
> of the UC Berkeley and University of Virginia law schools and three 
> federal judges, including Andrew Guilford, a Bush appointee from Orange
County.
> 
> Chemerinsky said he was saddened by the decision. "It would have been 
> an exciting opportunity to start a new law school. We live in strange 
> times."
> 
> Chemerinsky said that Drake told him during a meeting at the Sheraton 
> Hotel near the Raleigh-Durham airport that the decision "had been 
> difficult for him."
> 
> He said that "concerns" had emerged from the UC regents, which would 
> have had to approve the appointment, Chemerinsky said. The professor 
> said Drake told him that he thought there would have been a "bloody 
> battle" among the regents over the appointment.
> 
> The chancellor's office said Drake was meeting with the university's 
> communications office and was not immediately available for comment.
> 
> John Eastman, a conservative constitutional scholar and dean of 
> Chapman University Law School in Orange, who frequently debates 
> Chemerinsky, called UCI's move "a serious misstep."
> 
> Chemerinsky has been a professor at Duke since 2004, after 21 years at 
> the USC law school and was one of the finalists for the dean's job at 
> Duke last year, before the university chose David Levi, a federal 
> judge in Sacramento, for the job.
> 
> During his time in Los Angeles, he helped write the city charter and 
> has been a frequent legal commentator in the media.
> 
> In April 2005, the professor was named one of "the top 20 legal 
> thinkers in America" by Legal Affairs magazine.
> 
> UCI's law school, which is expected to welcome its first class in 
> 2009, will be the first new public law school in California in 40 years.
> 
> Last month, the university announced that Newport Beach billionaire 
> Donald Bren had donated $20 million to fund the salary of the dean and
> 11 faculty positions.
> 
> Chemerinsky had told supporters that the first six to eight faculty 
> members would be from top 20 law school, and they would be "stars."
> 
> "The goal is that UCI will be a top 20 law school someday," he said in 
> an e-mail.
> 
> Among those Chemerinsky had approached about joining the faculty of 
> the new law school was Laurie Levenson, a former federal prosecutor, 
> who teaches criminal law and legal ethics at Loyola Law School in Los 
> Angeles and is a frequent commentator on television and radio about 
> high-profile trials.
> 
> Levenson said she was deeply disturbed by the news. "For a new law 
> school to start infringing on academic even before it opens its door 
> does not bode well for this institution," Levenson said in an interview.
> "I have talked to Erwin quite a bit about his plans for the new law 
> school. He did not have a political agenda. He had an excellence 
> agenda."
> 
> "If there's room for Ken Starr and John Eastman to be the dean of a 
> law school, there's room for Erwin Chemerinsky," Levenson said, 
> referring to the conservative constitutional scholars who are the 
> deans at the Pepperdine and Chapman law schools, respectively.
> 
> garrett.therolf at latimes.com
> henry.weinstein at latimes.com
> 
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