Phi Beta Cons

Re: Chemerinsky

Following up on John’s post below, UC Irvine’s decision to revoke Professor Chemerinsky’s contract because of his outspoken liberal views is just shameful.  While a university has much greater latitude in regulating the speech of administrators than it does professors (because administrators represent the official voice of the university), the decision to fire Professor Chemerinsky before even his first day on the job is deeply, deeply disappointing.
I am always suspicious of political litmus tests for academic jobs, and nothing about the responsibilities of a dean requires a person to either repudiate their past advocacy or to silence themselves in their current position.  A person can be liberal and be a fair-minded, outstanding administrator — just as a person can conservative and a fair-minded, outstanding administrator.  In fact, I would assert that politics are essentially irrelevant to the position.  By many accounts (and I respect Professor Eastman’s opinion immensely), Professor Chemerinsky is a decent person who has defended conservatives even when he disagrees with them.  That’s all one can ask.
It’s a sad day for the marketplace of ideas when a man can be fired simply because an administration fears he’ll be controversial. 

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