Which Conservatives Wanted Erwin Chemerinsky Fired?

UC Irvine has touched off a firestorm, thanks to a particularly gutless move by Chancellor Michael Drake in rescinding a job offer for its brand-new law school. Well known liberal law academic Erwin Chemerinsky had accepted UCI’s offer and contract to become the first dean — but Drake told Chemerinsky that “conservatives” had hounded him into breaking the contract:

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 liberal 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. …
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.

So Drake didn’t have the courage to defend his hiring decision to the regents? That should be a warning signal to anyone offered a position at Irvine. Drake didn’t bother to check with his masters before having Chemerinsky sign a contract — something a lawyer could have told him would be a big, big problem.
Had Drake decided not to hire Chemerinsky because of his political views, that would have been bad enough. It’s exactly what conservatives have rightly decried in academia as well as in government appointments. This, however, is even worse. UCI offered Chemerinsky a contract, which he accepted in good faith. In fact, he had even started to work for UCI in assembling an advisory council when Drake got a case of runny intestine and reneged on the contract.
A state-run school has no business firing people because of their politics. That’s true whether the person is a liberal or a conservative. Conservatives should defend Chemerinsky just as they defend Janice Rogers Brown or William Pryor. Mostly, though, UCI’s community should be offended that a man with as little testicular fortitude as Drake continues to run the school. His contract breaking in order to avoid defending his own hiring decision should be the last official act of Drake at UCI.
I’m not the only conservative defending Chemerinsky, either. (via Hugh Hewitt, who hosts Chemerinsky weekly on his show)

42 thoughts on “Which Conservatives Wanted Erwin Chemerinsky Fired?”

  1. In college, I was sued in small claims court by a woman who’d rented a room in my apartment for the fall quarter. I’d given her a key and she’d moved a bunch of stuff in mid way through summer, and then, a week into fall quarter, told me her parents didn’t want her living with a boy. She sued because she wanted her deposit back (which I’d kept because I couldn’t find a new roommate even though I immediately advertised — the quarter had already started when she gave notice).
    After we both told our stories, the judge said, “Miss, when you get home, tell your parents that a contract is a contract. When you took possession of the apartment by accepting the key, you accepted the terms of contract.”
    I see the exact same situation with Chemerinsky; contract signed, he’s started the work set out for him, and then — boom, the door is locked. If he chooses to file a lawsuit, this could get really expensive for the UC System. And, if I were him, I would.

  2. Where is the evidence he was fired over his politics?
    I see none at all.
    This is a job conflict. It is not worth the bandwidth spent on it so far. And frankly, Chemerinsky and his ilk would not lift a finger to help you if you were in his position, but as a conservative. This shmuck knew the Plamegate was a scam and yet promoted it time and time again. He knew that Florida 2000 was not as he claimed, yet he persisted in spreading the lies about it.
    If he ticked off his boss at UC Irvine and his boss fired him, toughsky stuffsky. And if it lefty hacks turning the knives on each other, so much the better.
    If he has a case over his firing, I bet he knows how to get better legal counsel than 99% of the people who will read this blog, and he will know how to pursue his remedies more thoroughly than most.
    A pox on him and his side of the political spectrum. I hope they spend the next several years fighting and suing each other over similar unimportant claims.

  3. I took a bar review class from Chemerinsky and he was outstanding. And I couldn’t have told you what his politics were after taking that class.
    Does he know the law? Does he know how to teach it? And does he have managerial skills (probably more important than anything)? This is what should matter.
    Contrary to popular belief, law schools really aren’t hotbeds of radical/liberal thinking. Study of the law just doesn’t lend itself to that for the most part. It’s hard to get too political in teaching the law outside of Con Law and a couple of other classes. And even there in the end it really only matters what the holdings were, not what the professor thought they should have been (because there is no political point of view on the Bar exam).
    I can’t imagine this is the real reason. At a minimum, if this really had been an objection stated by some of the Regents the proper course would have been to ask Chemerinsky if he would be willing to address their concerns. That way everyone could go on the record instead of this weaselly excuse: the right wing goons are out to get you Erwin.

  4. Pathetic… I would sue for the wages due and count myself lucky that I didn’t get caught as their Dean.
    Up to now, I thought the guys running Dartmouth were setting the Standards for poor administration!

  5. “Conservatives should defend Chemerinsky just as they defend Janice Rogers Brown or William Pryor.”

    Conservatives cut our own throats on the chopping block of “EQUALITY” for 50 years at the expense of Justice, for the sake of appeasing OLIGARCHIAL Liberal Socialists.
    We finally get enough clout to make someone do what is RIGHT, and you think we should surrender again, again lay our heads on the chopping block of “EQUALITY”, sacrifice our children up to Liberal Socialist indoctrination, in the name of THEIR VERSION of “FAIRNESS”???????
    Our Founding Fathers would be SPINNING IN THEIR GRAVES.

  6. “This shmuck knew the Plamegate was a scam and yet promoted it time and time again. He knew that Florida 2000 was not as he claimed, yet he persisted in spreading the lies about it.”
    Posted by Bennett | September 12, 2007 11:40 PM
    I have a niece in a premier law school, and she can tell the politics of her professors and her classmates.
    Kick his ass out of the USA!

  7. Sorry. Not worth the price of defense.
    One thing about Southern California; it ain’t hard to recruit.
    Sort’a like the way Gigolo Kerry can find rich women; a lot of people, offered work in our sunny climbs, DON’T COMPLAIN!
    Did UC Irvine make a mistake? Yup. I’d tend to guess this was an academic decision; that once it saw broad daylight, started to smell bad.
    It’s not as if there aren’t giants in intellect who’d do better NOT spouting the liberal/global/horseshit line.
    I hae no idea what lawyers will do. When I was a kid, hearing a man was a judge. Brought instant respect. Hearing a man belonged to the Bar. Ditto. Today, it’s all a joke. Tag teams who do hand-signals in bathroom stalls. They can defend that! Instead of realizing the really thin line that separates out our commons, from the freaks. Who don’t mind destroying stuff. (Like the black oil just pored on 2/3rds of the Vietnam Memorial. Oh, and they’re never called upon to fix it, either.
    Most people don’t know how corrupted the law is these days. You’d think, with a world of computers open, we could rid ourselves of at least half the crap that lines the walls of conference rooms, in every attorney’s office. You think anyone bothers, anymore, to even open those books?
    They all look un-read to me.
    I’d like to see, ahead, a refreshing look at how the Constitution protects us. And, what we can expect from da’ law; without paying an arm and a leg for it.
    Heck, many years ago, religions had a lock. They took your money as often as they could. And, they made you feel guilty. These days? It seems the vaults are empty. People aren’t buying whatever it was they once bought. And, there’s a more realistic dialog about religion.
    Heck, Christopher Hitchens book is both delightful. AND, a best seller!
    When was the last time da’ law was disected like that?
    You think it won’t be?
    You think the prices for an attorney will go above $500 an hour? Do you know what nice piece of ass the average man could buy for $500 an hour? While the problems you pay for are made worse when attorneys get involved.
    Oh, yeah. Larry Craig’s withdrawn his guilty plea. Now he has an attorney. And, for FREE, you can go to BELDAR and watch that stupid decision get disected.
    Of course, the fix could be in. Judges are sometimes less bright than you think. BUT IN BROAD DAYLIGHT? Ya know what? The hand-signals for that haven’t been invented yet.
    And, other than the fact that some academics decided they needed Chemreinsky; saner heads prevailed. This flak shall pass.
    And, because of our weather, here, it’s total BS to be told UC Irvine can’t make a fine recruit. More to the point, I’d bet there are resumes now flying in. Calling out: YOO-HOO … My wife and kids wouldn’t fight, if I left my current place (even if its on top of Colorado ski slopes) … just to get to California’s weather.
    One reason I know? I went to college late in life. And, Pasadena City College is nearby. What absolutely floored me was the quality of their teaching staff. So, the facts of life got explained. ONE: Being near Caltech. But with lots more students. Professors FROM Caltech, came over to teach. (When Richard Feynman was alive, he’d come in unannounced, just to take over Professor Miller’s Physics for non-majors’ class.)
    Oh, yes. It’s also the weather. Trust me. No need for woolen underwear. Galoshes. Raincoats or umbrellas. There’s a lot to like.
    On the other hand, Cal State LA is full of the affirmative action garbage. Not even worth it at discount prices.
    Good for UC Irvine! They will survive this!

  8. If they have trouble firing him over his politics, have him tried for SLANDER, for his conduct in the Plamegate and the 2000 Election issues, in these two instances, and then fire him for INCOMPETENCE in his field of endeavor.

  9. What conservatives fired him? I suspect this is a smokescreen for the real perpetrators. Who approves hiring at this level? The Regents do, and they’re all hard-core liberals. I don’t see anybody under them moving to fire him without their approval. Heck, is there anybody high up in UC management that isn’t liberal?

  10. The discussion of the government not hiring people due to their viewpoints strikes me as ironic…because Erwin Chemerinsky has regularly engaged in that exact practice, working hard to prevent highly qualified nominees from being confirmed because they didn’t agree with his liberalism and his view of the law as a fungible thing.
    Now the shoe’s on the other foot, the government is refusing to hire him because of his political views, and it’s a problem?
    If Chemerinsky had supported qualified nominees, such as Roberts or Alito, with whom he disagreed, I’d have lots more sympathy for him today. But instead he’s slandered them in the pages of the L.A. Times. Freedom of political views has to run both ways, and Chemerinsky clearly doesn’t believe in this principle.
    Best wishes,

  11. Has Chemerinsky made any negative comments about Islam lately? UC Irvine has been proving itself a hotbed of jihadism and Islamic activism.

  12. “I have a niece in a premier law school, and she can tell the politics of her professors and her classmates.”
    Tell her to keep her eye on the ball. Because that area of inquiry (everybody’s politics) isn’t going to help her pass the Bar exam. Unless she’s in it for grins, then it won’t matter!
    Maybe Drake wasn’t so far off.

  13. Perhaps someone here could explain the Professor’s inadequacies as a lawyer and a law professor. Has he been sued for malpractice? Has he breached the Canon of Ethics? Cheated a client? Lied to the court?
    So far, it sounds like he’s disliked by the commenters for his political views, for exercising his right to that point of view in areas of public discourse, the same right commenters here reserve exclusively for themselves apparently
    He didn’t sit on the Libby jury, wasn’t the Prosecutor, didn’t have a vote in the Senate on either the Libby or Alito nominations. How is any of that relevant to his qualifications for a job as Dean at some start-up law school?

  14. A few thoughts:
    Drake claims he failed to bring in at least one major stakeholder. Two choices here, given this is a UC:
    1) A regent, or
    2) A donor.
    If its a donor, thats really shabby.
    There are other possibilities:
    1) Chemerinsky failed some personnel criteria for the UC System (a felony conviction might do it, since he wasn’t being hired as a football coach),
    2) Drake had buyer’s remorse for some reason and wanted to back out of the contract.
    If Drake failed to bring the major stakeholders on board, that’s bad management. If it’s one of the other possibilities, the lie is shabby too.
    We’ll know shortly who or what caused this major embarrassment.

  15. again, another informative and thoughtful post from captain ed sails (no pun intended) right over the heads of the right wing morons who read his blog.

  16. Captain Ed,
    Stop worrying this issue as if it has something to do with ethics, morality or anything so high sounding. The law left a long time ago and has been replaced with money. This was all about bucks. No matter how many letters there are after a name, you are a hired hand, period. If the one hiring you and paying the bill does not like the cut of your jib, your out the door. And there is nothing wrong with that. Stop acting as if a lawyer is something more honorable than a janitor.

  17. Erwin Chemerinsky has strongly advocated that highly qualified nominees for government employment (i.e., judges) not be hired strictly because of their political views or judicial philosophies.
    Why should his own potential government employment be based on a different standard than what he himself espouses?
    Best wishes,

  18. Look, this is really very simple. It had nothing at all to do with Chemerinsky’s political leanings; rather, it had eveything to do with Chemerinsky being warned to cease and desist publishing any and all political Op/Ed pieces which might stir up controversy and riducule which would tarnish UCI in the process.
    Quoting relevant parts from: http://tinyurl.com/2b2x87
    “Chemerinsky and [UC Irvine Chancellor Michael] Drake agreed the new dean’s dismissal was motivated in part by an Aug. 16 opinion article in the Los Angeles Times, the same day the job offer was made…..
    …..Drake said “we had talked to him in June about writing op-ed pieces and that he would have to focus on things like legal education in this new role, and then here comes another political piece. It wasn’t the subject, it was its existence. What he said doesn’t matter.” ”
    It wasn’t the subject of the op-ed piece, said Drake. It was its existence.
    Obviously Drake’s nose was out of joint because he, essentially, set the parameters for Chemerinsky’s employment, which Chemerinsky promptly violated, as if to reset his own parameters for being and independently minded Dean.
    Why anyone would turn this into a political issue can only be surmised as an attempt to, once again, paint Conservatives in an evil vein, by Liberals who never miss a beat in that respect.

  19. Erwin Chemerinsky is a brilliant legal mind. He would probably be a drawing card for others on any faculty, doubly so for a new school of law.
    However, as Kendra notes above, if he agreed to lay off the op-ed pieces and could not keep that agreement for even a couple of months, why buy the problem?
    Chemerinsky has some conservative lawyers as friends, starting with Hugh Hewitt. If the situation were reversed, though, I don’t doubt Erwin would be calling for Hugh’s head.

  20. “Drake agreed the new dean’s dismissal was motivated in part by an Aug. 16 opinion article in the Los Angeles Times, the same day the job offer was made…..
    …..Drake said “we had talked to him in June about writing op-ed pieces and that he would have to focus on things like legal education in this new role, and then here comes another political piece. It wasn’t the subject, it was its existence. What he said doesn’t matter.”
    This explanation makes no sense. What he was told in June was based on actually getting the job. He wasn’t even offered the position until August and couldn’t have known until then if he was ever going to be offered the job. There is nothing in this excert to indicate he and the Dean had agreed to some kind of test here. Prove to us you won’t write anything for 2 months and THEN we’ll offer you the job.
    But this is good. The school can find itself a stealth candidate, someone who seems benign and will fly under the radar. But no less liberal of course. They’re not going to be luring Ken Starr away from Pepperdine, we can all be sure of that.
    And the next time some known conservative candidate for a position is excoriated for his political views, we can all sit quietly and take it.

  21. I’d like to know why UCI made this decision. It is hard for me to believe that “conservatives” could block the hiring of a professor, especially one so (apparently) well-known and -respected as Chemerinsky; consider how long Ward Churchill stayed on the job after his “Eichmann” remarks.
    Losing his contract over complaints that he writes inflammatory op-eds seems reasonable on its face. “Look, stupid: we’re hiring you to run the law school, not cause us to get thousands of angry letters demanding that we fire you every time you write an op-ed. We asked you to cut it out, and you didn’t. We don’t need this kind of trouble, so go find another job.”
    If his contract WAS pulled due to his political views, then that’s wrong and UCI needs to be taken to task for it. Yes, it might well be poetic justice. Yes, libs would never dream of doing the same thing for a conservative (i.e. anybody other than a committed Marxist). But that doesn’t matter: if it’s wrong to treat a conservative in so shabby a manner, it’s wrong to treat a liberal in that way, too.
    Truth is truth, justice is justice, and right is right. This is what conservatives should stand for no matter who is involved.

  22. UCI Must Keep Chemerinsky

    When I got my masters degree 20 years ago, my area of focus was US Constitutional law. Over the years, I’ve worked to keep current in that field. And while I’ve not always agreed with him, I’ve always respected the…

  23. No offense Ed, but I won’t board a bandwagon based on unsubstantiated allegations, especially allegations that seem unlikely at best. I doubt you could marshall enough conservative power around the environs of UCI to power a 20-watt bulb.
    The good professor may be a straight-arrow within the legal profession, and that qualification would earn him my respect in a courtroom, but he is politically liberal, and I have seen too many 60’s era liberals lie about politics with no regret or remorse to ever believe one about anything without authoritative verification. “The ends justifies the means” is a part of basic liberal programming.
    I agree that we should apply the same standards for behavior and ethics to anyone, regardless of their political persuasion, but that does not mean that we are required to go out of our way to champion our political adversaries cause. If they are a friend, fine. If the issue somehow winds up in your lap, fine. If someone asks your opinion, fine. Otherwise, there are a lot of topics to rally your readers around, most of which are more worthy than this chap (and more entertaining).

  24. english teacher,
    lefties have been getting conservatives fired from governemnt for their beliefs for years.
    I will not defend a lefty who has been a ring leader in that movement from getting fired in an employment dispute with other lefties.
    I would suggest that is what is sailing over your head is the changing realization of conservatives that liberals will never live by the standards they regularly get us to impose on ourselves.
    And your sanctimonious condescension only reminds me of why I decline to help fight this guy’s battles.

  25. If Erwin has proof his contract was terminated as a result of his politics…….he can sue. Anybody that would stretch the truth as much as he has time and again over issues in the past and go way beyond common sense needs to prove his case. I can not believe a word he says about why HE BELIEVES his contract was terminated.
    By the way; what is it about really smart people that makes them think average people don’t see right through them?…………..

  26. Am I the only one to notice that he was a liberal law academic at Duke in Durham N.C. , home of a famous lacrosse team and an out of work District Attourney? How did he lose his old job?

  27. According to the SD Tribune/ AP..
    He stated he was let go for “controversial views” and that he had no intention of creating and “overly” liberal law school..
    The “overly” bit is IMHO the most disturbing aspect given it’s my tax dollars being used to fund the suckers.

  28. Well, another day, another LA Times article.
    Drake says it was buyers’ remorse, and unforced.
    Chemerinsky says it was because of conservative pressure, and forced.
    Three possibilities (one with conservative pressure, two without):
    a) Situation set up due to conservative pressure.
    b) Drake told Chemerinsky that it was due to conservative pressure but it wasn’t.
    c) Chemerinsky inferred that it was due to conservative pressure, but wasn’t told that by Drake, and has inferred wrong.
    One of the men is lying. We’ll see.

  29. Point of order here people – if the appointment REQUIRES the approval of the Board of Regents, and such approval was never given, then the guy was never lawfully hired.
    If GWB just handed a contract to, say, Ted Olsen to be the new Attorney General without getting Senate approval, would anyone be arguing that Olsen was properly hired as the Attorney General and has some enforceable “right” to assume the position? No, no one would argue that. This does not appear to be any different.

  30. “Point of order here people – if the appointment REQUIRES the approval of the Board of Regents, and such approval was never given, then the guy was never lawfully hired.”
    Bravo! I shudder for Capn Ed, entrepreneur, if he can’t understand that. Chermerinsky is entitled to compensation for any work performed, or any reasonable loss sustained in expectation of the contract, but not the actual job.
    “And the next time some known conservative candidate for a position is excoriated for his political views, we can all sit quietly and take it.”
    The tragedy in that position is not that conservatives and liberal lawyers can’t live together in harmony. The tragedy is that the injustice of “living constitution” is perpetuated.
    When five Justices cannot properly construe “Congress shall make no law regarding freedom of speech…” and permit the criminalization of political advertising, that is not a triumph of diversity. Kelo was not the price we pay for democracy. It was injustice. It was a legal error as basic as asserting corporations can’t be parties to contracts.
    And there’s a difference between partisan politics and ideology, as the browsers of these comments are well aware. And I believe it will legally upheld that state law prohibits discrimination for partisan politics but not for ideology among what amounts to legal philosophers.

  31. Chancellors have plenary authority to hire staff, including deans. They are the chief executive officers for their schools, and can execute staff contracts without requiring approvals from regents. The regents are not an executive, but more akin to a Board of Directors. Once Drake and Chemerinsky signed that contract, it was valid. And Drake breached it.

  32. I thought that to leftists, a contract is a bourgeois implement of the fascist state.
    That is a major part of what Chemerinsky has been teaching his entire career.
    Can anyone say “hypocrisy”? Sure you can. It’ll be interesting to see how he proceeds.

  33. Cap’n Ed – If that is the case, then the quoted story is false – the story says that the Regents would have had to approve the apointment.

  34. “They…can execute staff contracts without requiring approvals from regents.”
    But he did not do so in this instance.
    Sept. 12, 2007
    Over the past several months, UC Irvine has conducted a nationwide search for the founding dean of our School of Law. Last week, we made an offer to Duke Professor Erwin Chemerinsky, an eminent academician, legal scholar and commentator. The offer was contingent on approval of the UC Regents.”

  35. By whose or what measure has Drake been labeled a conservative other than Chemerinsky’s ?
    What was constitutional lawyer Chemerinsky’s public reaction to the Duke administration’s and the Duke 88’s conviction of the Duke lacrosse players before a trail? Did he defend the players’s constitutional rights publicly or did he stand by in silence?
    On the he said/he said did Chemerinsky agree to stop
    writing op-eds? Who knows?

  36. Leave it to the reactionary right to scuttle the appointment of an eminently qualified legal scholar
    And Hunter, examples please of “all those conservatives who have lost their jobs because of liberals…” I’ll wait.
    Intellect, reason, logic, UCI and the future law students at that school are all the worse for this reactionary decision made by a reactionary, out-of-touch bureaucrat.

  37. birdscribe – Robert Bork comes to mind right off the bat. There are a lot of other federal bench apointments to go with that.
    Cap’n Ed – there seem to be a lot of references to some sort of Regent approval contingency. Are the all wrong? If not, there is no “there” here – it was merely a failed attempt to appoint (and the University’s staff, Drake, may have screwed up royally by going through with a purported contract before the requisite approval was obtained).

  38. Oh and Sharpshooter? Probably a good idea not to overgeneralize (too big a word for you?) about what liberals think about contracts.
    After all, hypocrisy cuts both ways. Or did you not pick that up on Hannity and Meat Puppet?

  39. birdscribe,
    Conservatives are squeezed out of academia all of hte time. Their speeches are censored and ssupporessed. Conservative Judicial nominees are slandered and defamed and kept from being approved to work as judges. BTW, your witty attempt at cutting humor nly shows you are rather dull.

  40. All,
    The Captain has it right about the Chancellor.
    That said, the Chancellor does not operate in a vacuum. Major stakeholders include the Regents, the president, the vice chancellors, vice presidents, donors, unions on campus, deans, department heads, and provosts (any or all of which may be part of the chancellor’s staff advisory committee). Every decision has to be made with these in mind. The Chancellor would not hire, for example, a dean for the law school, without having discussed the candidates with the staff advisory committee. Given that the UCI law school is not yet operational but must be within two years, hiring key staff for the school is of the highest priority.
    This is a big set back for the University. I’ve yet to see a valid explaination from the Chancellor for his backpedal. I’d like to see one; perhaps we should look at the corpus of work that Chemerisky, by his own admission, performed for the University prior to his contract’s recission. Any news about this stuff?

  41. As a part-time teacher at UC-Irvine, I am puzzled as to which conservatives put pressure on Drake to rescind the hire. Since when do conservatives have so much influence in the US system?
    Maybe Chancellor Drake should come out and publicly idebtify these “unnamed conservatives” that caused him to take back the hire.
    As for Chemerinsky, I don’t agree with his liberal philosophy,( he is no Ward Churchhill) but do we conservatives really want to emulate the tactics of the left?
    I don’t. Besides, what’s one more liberal at UC anyway?
    gary fouse
    adjunct teacher
    UCI ext

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