The University of California, Irvine is starting a new law school. Given its location and the resources available to it, it could have quickly entered the first ranks of American law schools. It had selected my friend and regular radio guest Duke University Law School Professor Erwin Chemerinsky as the school’s new dean. Erwin is a man of the left, of course, but a remarkably distinguished and accomplished scholar who enjoys the esteem of professors, jurists and practioners across the ideological spectrum.
This is an astonishing and disgraceful episode, which, if perpetrated against a conservative, would rightly lead to a massive outpouring of outrage directed at the university that had allowed such a purge to occur. I will be astonished if any reputable scholar agrees to take the job over Erwin’s broken contract, and many professors who would otherwise have welcomed the chance to join the UC system will be wondering about the Administration of such a place, even if they find someone to agree to be dean.
UCI should regrow its spine and renew its offer to Erwin. The good news is that he is probably gracious enough to accept it in the best interests of the young institution.
UPDATE: Professor Brainbridge is among a growing chorus from across the ideological spectrum blasting UCI.
The Regents are now being made the fall-guy for this fiasco. The Chair of the Regents and/or the governor ought to step in and reverse the decision to rescind the offer.
UPDATE 2: Instapundit has some great links, including to John Leo’s statement thatthe treatment of Chemerinsky is “a test case for conservatives who support free speech and argue vehemently against political tests for faculty and administration appointments.”
UPDATE 3: UCI has released this incredibly lame statement from its chancellor, .Michael Drake. Again, this meltdown doing more damage to the new law school, the iuniversity and the U.C. system in a few hours than
I have come to the very difficult conclusion that Professor Chemerinsky is not the right fit for the dean’s position at UC Irvine at this time. . . .
Professor Chemerinsky is a gifted academic and his credentials are outstanding. I respect him greatly. My decision is no reflection whatsoever on his qualifications, but I must have complete confidence that the founding dean and I can partner effectively in building our law school. As in all decisions, I must do what I believe is in the best interests of our university.
What is appalling about this statement is its drive-by hit on Erwin as somehow difficult to work with, suggesting some flaw on his part as opposed to whatever is the real reason behind his dismissal. UCI has a long and tortured history of scandals that have town at its credibility. It is very disappointing to see another UCI scandal with incompetence multiplied by dishonesty at its center.