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.