Democrats & Liberals Archives

Politically Polarized Law

It is obvious that our country is politically polarized. Conservatives call liberals traitors and un-American, and liberals call conservatives warmongers and un-American. Apparently the only true patriotic Americans are those with no opinion and who do not give a damn whether we fight in Iraq or not.

This is bad enough. And now we see that this polarization has penetrated the legal academia, thus periling our legal system in its pursuit of justice. The problem started when Michael Drake, the chancellor of University of California in Irvine, offered Erwin Chemerinsky the position of dean for a new law school to be established in 2009; then suddenly Drake removed the offer. In Chemerinsky's words:

On Tuesday, Sept. 11, however, the chancellor at UC Irvine, Michael V. Drake, withdrew the offer. He told me that I had proved to be "too politically controversial." Those, by the way, were the exact words that he said I could use to describe the reason for the decision. He told me that he had not expected the extent of opposition that would develop.

"Too politically controversial"? What sort of reason is this? Drake knew Chemerinsky is a liberal. Since Chemerinsky expresses himself well in the media, most educated people know that he is a liberal. Does being a liberal make you unfit to be a dean of a law school? Would a candidate be better off if he were conservative?

I quote now the words of a conservative, someone I rarely agree with. As a matter of fact, I had been looking at him with disdain. But no longer. He is a conservative I respect. I am talking of Douglas Kmiec, who yesterday wrote the following:

Erwin and I seldom agree on constitutional outcome. I'm conservative, and he's liberal. We have written competing textooks. We have debated frequently in the media. Before the U.S. Supreme Court, if Erwin is for the petitioner, it's a good bet I can find merit in the cause of the respondent.

Yet there is no person I would sooner trust to be a guardian of my constitutional liberty. Nor is there anyone I would sooner turn to for a candid, intellectually honest appraisal of an academic proposal.....

Kmiec goes on to praise Chemerinsky highly and to express his dismay at the turning down of Chemerinsky, something he felt would strike a great blow to the new law school.

I salute Kmiec. It's time to choose people on their merit, regardless of their personal philosophy. It's time to treat people as human beings and not as opponents or enemies.

Posted by Paul Siegel at September 13, 2007 12:00 AM
Comments
Comment #233095

Paul
The very last line of your post says it all. The far left and the far right might ought to heed to that last line.

Posted by: KAP at September 16, 2007 5:00 PM
Comment #233098

Paul,

“It’s time to choose people on their merit, regardless of their personal philosophy.”

I anxiously await a copy of your letter to Senator Reid requesting he apply these standards to the next Attorney General appointee…

Posted by: Snardius at September 16, 2007 5:36 PM
Comment #233198

Paul said: “It’s time to choose people on their merit, regardless of their personal philosophy.”

Couldn’t disagree more. Philosophy guides decision making and action. If you believe in the trickle down voodoo economic theory that purports to enrich all, that philosophy will lead to, to, to, well, where we are right now, another day older and 3.35 Trillion more in debt. Philosophy is not everything in an election, but, it is incredibly important.

If one believes America has unlimited resources to share, one is likely to be against halting illegal immigration, or for government subsidies to corporate America’s plundering of the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge for profit. If on the other hand, one believes America’s resources are finite, one will tend to protect and preserve and conserve what resources America has.

No, philosophy is incredibly important.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 17, 2007 1:54 PM
Comment #233251

If on the other hand, one believes America’s resources are finite, one will tend to protect and preserve and conserve what resources America has.

That sounds terribly selfish…

Posted by: Snardius at September 17, 2007 8:30 PM
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