I'm sad to report that Erwin Chemerinsky, a law professor here at Duke, lost the deanship at the new UC-Irvine law school due to political pressure:
In a showdown over academic freedom, a prominent legal scholar said Wednesday that the University of California, Irvine's chancellor had succumbed to conservative political pressure in rescinding his contract to head the university's new law school, a charge the chancellor vehemently denied.
Erwin Chemerinsky, a well-known liberal expert on constitutional law, said he had signed a contract Sept. 4, only to be told Tuesday by Chancellor Michael V. Drake that he was voiding their deal because Chemerinsky was too liberal and the university had underestimated "conservatives out to get me."
Later Wednesday, however, Drake said there had been no outside pressure and that he had decided to reject Chemerinsky, now of Duke University and formerly of the University of Southern California, because 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.
I'm particularly disappointed because I was a teaching assistant for Chemerinsky's undergraduate constitutional law class here at Duke and I count myself among his admirers. First, despite being very busy, he teaches the undergraduate class out of the goodness of his heart. He's about the nicest person I've ever met. And contrary to at least one claim I've seen online, he is a fantastic teacher who was extremely fair to all points of view. I never heard anything about his personal opinions in any of my interactions with him.
The good news, however, is that some conservative academics are standing with Chemerinsky in this capitulation to outside political forces:
News of Drake's decision quickly came made its way through academic and legal circles nationally where it came under criticism from liberals and conservatives scholars who said Chemerinsky was being unfairly penalized.
"It seems late in the day to notice to Erwin Chemerinsky is a prominent liberal," said John Jeffries, University of Virginia Law School dean. "That's been true for as long as I've known him. It's rather like discovering that Wilt Chamberlain was tall. How could you not know?"
...Legal academics said Chemerinsky's sacking could make it difficult for UCI to attract a top-flight dean, students and faculty.
Douglas Kmiec, a prominent conservative constitutional law professor at Pepperdine Law School in Malibu, called the development "a tremendous setback for UC Irvine. It is a profound mistake in my judgment to have obtained the services of one of the most respected, most talented teachers of the Constitution in the United States and to turn him away on the specious ground that he is too liberal or too progressive. That is a betrayal of everything a law school should stand for."
Glenn Reynolds, among others, shares these concerns.