Following up on my previous post, 28 Conservative/Libertarian Law Profs Demand That AALS Address Political Imbalance Of Law School Faculties: Randy Barnett (Georgetown), AALS Executive Committee Responds to Our Letter Concerning Faculty Diversity:
[A]s we noted in our letter to the Executive Committee, we appreciate the efforts that were made to provide a more balanced program at the AALS Annual Meeting. But we also asked for two specific action items to address the current radical imbalance of law school faculties, neither of which is addressed in the Executive Committee’s response to our letter.
- First, we repeated our request for access to the Faculty Appointments Registry [FAR] data so an objective analysis could be made of the current fairness of the hiring process—access that was previously granted other researchers researching matters related to diversity. As we told the Executive Committee, any such research should adopt protocols, such as omitting any identifying information so as not to threaten the privacy of any job applicant.
- Second, because we were a self-selected rump group of professors, we did not feel authorized to make specific reform proposals. Nor were we a deliberative body with access to the logistical hurdles of implementing an AALS policy. Instead, we urged the formation of an Intellectual Diversity Task Force like the one that was formed in 1999 to address the problem of racial diversity on law school faculties and others that were formed more recently on other topics, such as globalization. Such a task force would then make recommendations to the Executive Committee for its consideration. Only such a task force could thoroughly consider possible AALS initiatives. But such a committee should be chosen for its political balance, unlike the Executive Committee itself, which (to our knowledge) includes no identifiably right-of-center member.
During our general discussion with the Committee, we mentioned one idea that such a task force might consider recommending: asking AALS member schools to report on the intellectual diversity of their faculty as part of their sabbatical evaluation–the way they currently report on other forms of diversity. In response, various Executive Committee members expressed objections to such a proposal—objections that Dean Areen reiterates in her letter on behalf of the Executive Committee. Fair enough. But this is the sort of issue we proposed be hashed out by a balanced task force, not between our rump group and the currently unbalanced Executive Committee. And we did not mention this idea in our letter of last week.
As we previously expressed in our letter, we are grateful to Dean Areen for her courteous reception and to the Executive Committee for meeting with us in January of 2016. We wrote our letter because we had received no formal response to our requests in over a year, and appreciate the response we have now received. But, with all due respect, this response fails to address, or even mention, the thrust of our proposals to address the current imbalance on law school faculties—proposals which we reiterated in our letter of last week.
Indeed, this letter can fairly be read as a silent rejection of these suggestions. Oddly, it discusses an idea we do not mention in the letter to which it is responding, while failing to respond to the ones we do.
I cannot speak for other members of our informal group. But I, for one, still believe that the Executive Committee should make access to FAR form data available to an outside researcher who will follow agreed-upon protocols, and should name a politically-balanced task force to investigate and make recommendations to the Committee for how the current imbalance on law school faculties might be improved.
In the end, this not about us. I, for one, am very happy with my position at Georgetown and how I am treated by my colleagues. This is about the quality of the legal education we provide our students. Imagine how political progressives would react if all, or nearly all, constitutional law courses were taught by political conservatives. Without some semblance of political balance—especially in their public law courses—students on the left, right, and center are deprived of information about the legal and constitutional positions that are now being debated in courtrooms and in Congressional committee hearing rooms—positions they may one day be asked to advance of respond to in litigation.
Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:
- Conservatives Are Not Welcome At AALS (Jan. 4, 2017)
- Iowa, North Carolina Bills Would Require 'Partisan Balance' In Faculty Hiring (Feb. 22, 2017)
- Stanford Provost: Academia Is Its Own Worst Enemy (Feb. 23, 2017)
- 28 Conservative/Libertarian Law Profs Demand That AALS Address Political Imbalance Of Law School Faculties (Feb. 25, 2017)
- How Not To Address Liberal Bias In Academia (Feb. 26, 2017)
- Blackman: The First Step To Addressing The Political Imbalance Of Law School Faculties Is For The AALS To Acknowledge There Is A Problem (Feb. 27, 2017)
- More Law Prof Debate On Ideological Discrimination In Faculty Hiring At Chicago-Kent, Other Law Schools (Feb. 28, 2017)
- Professors And Politics: What The Research Says (Feb. 28, 2017)
- Lindgren: 'Things At Chicago-Kent Are Even Worse Than I Suspected' (Mar. 1, 2017)