UC Irvine officials on Friday were attempting to broker a deal to once again hire liberal scholar Erwin Chemerinsky as dean of its fledging law school, just three days after its chancellor set off a national furor by dumping him. Prominent Orange County attorney Tom Malcolm, a participant in high-level university discussions, said: "I think we are satisfied that if [UCI Chancellor Michael V. Drake and Chemerinsky] have a meeting, they can come to some understanding, and [Chemerinsky] can become a good dean."
Chemerinsky, who would have been the school's first dean, was noncommittal about whether he would still take the UCI job. "I have nothing to say about it. I haven't thought about it," he said. An agreement would be an extraordinary development after Chemerinsky contended this week that Drake succumbed to political pressure from conservatives and sacked him because of his outspoken liberal positions. The flap threatened to derail the 2009 opening of the law school and prompted some calls for Drake's resignation.
Also Friday, details emerged about the criticism of Chemerinsky that the university received in the days before Drake rescinded the job offer, including from California Chief Justice Ronald M. George, who criticized Chemerinsky's grasp of death penalty appeals. Also, a group of prominent Orange County Republicans and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich wanted to derail the appointment.
Making Chemerinsky the head of the law school “would be like appointing al-Qaida in charge of homeland security,” Michael Antonovich, a longtime Republican member of the county Board of Supervisors, said in a voicemail left with The Associated Press.