Erwin Chemerinsky fired for political reasons after one week as dean of new law school


About a week ago, Erwin Chemerinsky, the well-known constitutional law scholar at Duke, signed a contract to be the inaugural Dean of the new law school at the University of California at Irvine.

Yesterday, the Chancellor of the University of Cailfornia at Irvine flew to Durham and fired Chemerinsky, saying that he had not been aware of how Chemerinsky’s political views would make him a target for criticism from conservatives.

on the merits, Chemerinsky was a far more prominent scholar than the University had any reason to suppose it would be able to land for a brand new law school.

It’s fair to say that the future does not look bright for the planned UC Irvine law school. Who will take the job now given this history?

Posted at 10:45 am (CST).

UPDATE: Some colleagues speculate that Irvine hoped to get more donations from Donald Bren, the real estate developer who endowed the Law School and who is also a major donor to the Republican Party . Whether Mr. Bren played any role in this is something that perhaps the newspapers which investigate this story may unearth. Even if financial gain was the motive, the University, I suspect, has miscalculated the costs and benefits of its misconduct, since the reputational damage the school will now incur is likely to be quite substantial.

Wall St. Journal:

The new public law school is expected to begin classes in 2009. (For more on the school’s namesake Donald Bren, a billionaire real estate developer and big Republican donor, click here.)

It’s clear that significant opposition developed,” including, Chemerinsky added, from certain members of the Regents of the University of California. The chancellor told him that even if regents ended up approving the appointment, it would be after a “bloody battle,” and damaging the law school.


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