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Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Dent:  Conservatives Are Not Welcome At AALS

AALS (2018)National Association of Scholars: Association of American Law Schools: Conservatives Not Welcome, by George Dent (Case Western):

As appropriate to its quasi-governmental status, the AALS nods toward non-partisanship. Its by-laws state that it “expects its member schools to value . . . diversity of viewpoints.” Unfortunately, this commitment has been pure window-dressing. In its law school inspections the AALS often criticizes schools for lack of racial or gender diversity, and it makes a big issue of sexual-orientation diversity, but it never criticizes schools for lack of political diversity.

This is not because law faculties reflect the political diversity of the nation. Empirical evidence confirms the obvious; law faculties tilt overwhelmingly to the left [John O. McGinnis et al., The Patterns and Implications of Political Contributions by Elite Law School Faculty, 93 Geo. L.J. 1167 (2005)]. And in its own programs the AALS displays the same bias. An announcement about the 2016 annual meeting included a list of thirteen scheduled “Speakers of Note.” One or two of them might be considered moderate or non-political, but all others were liberals or radicals; not one was a conservative or libertarian.

Because of the dearth of conservatives and libertarians on law faculties and AALS programs, I have been involved for over four years with several other law professors in trying to get the AALS to take its commitment to viewpoint diversity seriously. The recent Presidents (a new president is chosen every year) and the Executive Director have met with some of us, and they have been models of cordiality and have discussed our issues seriously.

Until recently, however, the Executive Committee, which effectively controls the AALS, rejected every one of our requests, including one for the creation of a task force to look into viewpoint diversity and make recommendations. It refused even to meet with us.

We also requested access for scholarly research to the Faculty Appointments Register (“FAR”). The AALS serves as the hiring hall for law professors. Nearly all new hires submit a form to the FAR. Several years ago the AALS gave access to the FAR to a couple of liberal scholars who used it for an empirical study that was later published [Tracey E. George & Albert H. Yoon, The Labor Market for New Law Professors, 11 J. Empirical Legal Stud. 1 (2014)]. There were no violations of applicant confidentiality. However, when a conservative scholar requested equal access, the AALS changed its rules and forbade all access on grounds of applicant confidentiality. Although protocols to protect confidentiality are often used without problems in many fields of research, the AALS still denies all access.

Officers of the AALS say they have worked to improve viewpoint diversity on its programs, and I believe them. However, since we are not included in these efforts and no metrics are offered, we can only eyeball lists of program participants, in which we can see no change. 

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Comments

The liberals run academia, and the conservatives run the country. Not a bad trade, one could argue.

Posted by: mike livingston | Jan 4, 2017 4:25:15 AM

Viewpoint diversity - what a concept!

Posted by: Old Ruster from JD Junkyard | Jan 4, 2017 5:10:50 AM

But since liberals are 100% correct in their views and occupy the moral high ground, why would they include conservatives, who are simply wrong, bigoted, anti-science, etc??

Just ask any liberal...

Posted by: todd | Jan 4, 2017 7:08:44 AM

Academia is a liberal leaning institution. Conceded. But why would the same amount of conservatives as liberals earn less than they could on the open market by committing to academia instead of the commercial world (i.e., top law firms and general counsel positons)? Isnt the difference between non-monetary/economic values a part (though not all) of the distinction between progressives and conservatives? I think it is consistent with both paradigms that the "smartest" progressive eschew boardrooms for academia, while the "smartest" conservatives tend to eschew academia for boardrooms. While there are progressive board members and conservative professors, the skewed numbers make sense in each industry. No?

Posted by: Andre L Smith | Jan 4, 2017 8:50:43 AM

No, you cannot claim its a organic process of peferences- that would remain relatively constant over time. Instead, empirical studies have shown the process has vastly accelerated in the last decade. Prof Gaad Saad of Toronto and Prof Heidt have talked at great length about the issue and collected and followed the trends as shown in the empirical literature. Man department have zero diversity at this point. Most have more Marxists than republicans.

http://righteousmind.com/viewpoint-diversity/

Posted by: Thomas Becket | Jan 4, 2017 10:48:55 AM

I submitted a proposal to the AALS "diversity" panel on how the new Model Rule 8.4(g) could limit viewpoints in the legal academy. It was rejected.

http://joshblackman.com/blog/2016/11/15/my-rejected-proposal-for-the-aals-presidents-program-on-diversity-the-effect-of-model-rule-of-professional-conduct-8-4g-and-law-school-pedagogy-and-academic-freedom/

Posted by: Josh Blackman | Jan 4, 2017 11:18:38 AM

It's a sad day when conservatives ape the arguments for affirmative action instead of arguing for appointments based on things like objective merit.

Posted by: merit? | Jan 4, 2017 11:32:30 AM

I don't think that any liberals would argue that conservatives moral views on issues like abortion or their skepticism of minimum wage laws is "unscientific."

It's only when we start talking about global warming, tobacco, food safety, and the relationship between tax cuts on economic growth that we get into territory where science become an issue.

Posted by: Science | Jan 4, 2017 11:41:48 AM

I don't think that any liberals would argue that conservatives moral views on issues like abortion or their skepticism of minimum wage laws is "unscientific."

It's only when we start talking about global warming, tobacco, food safety, and the relationship between tax cuts and economic growth that we get into territory where science becomes an issue.

And yes, conservative hostility to science is a real problem if they're interested in working at institutions that exist to advance it.

Posted by: Science | Jan 4, 2017 11:42:55 AM

"snt the difference between non-monetary/economic values a part (though not all) of the distinction between progressives and conservatives?"

Um, no?

Posted by: Orin Kerr | Jan 4, 2017 7:28:23 PM

This is certainly bad news, for the AALS. Because if true, an argument could be made that the organization is in violation of Washington, DC's own Human Rights Act §§ 2-1401.11, which prohibits descrimination in employment based on the "political affiliation of any individual" among other protected classes. Now, the organization itself doesn't include that class in its own nondiscrimination policy, but it'd be hoot to see some savvy lawyers bring a class action lawsuit against this bastion of tolerance...

Posted by: MM | Jan 4, 2017 10:09:46 PM

""snt the difference between non-monetary/economic values a part (though not all) of the distinction between progressives and conservatives?"

Um, no?"

Interesting.

Posted by: Andre L Smith | Jan 5, 2017 2:18:23 PM

The AALS is a racket. Shut it down.

Posted by: Art Deco | Jan 6, 2017 4:10:00 PM