As Dan Filler (Drexel) delicately puts it
, "Case has had some challenges
with respect to deans in recent years." And now a public controversy has erupted over one of its dean search
finalists: Bradley A. Smith
, Josiah H. Blackmore II/Shirley M. Nault Designated Professor of Law at Capital
, a well known conservative campaign finance scholar and former chair of the Federal Election Commission under President George W. Bush. When Professor Smith visited Case on March 24 for his day of interviews and meetings, opponents of his appointment launched CaseAgainstSmith.com
(right). From the group's press release:
The website is organized by a group of Case Western Law students and alumni intent on opposing Bradley Smith’s consideration, and or selection, to be the new Law Dean. Smith is one of four candidates in the final interview stage.
CaseAgainstSmith.com seeks to inform members of the Case Western Reserve University community about Smith’s radical views and history. Smith has been described as the “intellectual powerhouse” behind efforts to roll back Watergate era campaign finance reforms. Smith is also tied to the Koch Brothers – the very same individuals that have begun an unprecedented attack against the middle class in Wisconsin, Ohio, and nationwide. Senator John McCain of Arizona has even stated to Smith, ““You’re a bully and a coward, and you have no regard for the Constitution.”
We are concerned that the appointment of a radical such as Smith to Dean of the Law School could distract from the many strengths of Case Western Reserve University.
In order to to protect our school, we are asking visitors to the website to sign a pledge that they will withhold all support and financial contributions to Case Western Reserve University if Smith is selected as the next Law School Dean. This petition will be delivered to school administrators.
The Cleveland Plain Dealer has published this response from Professor Smith:
No dean candidate will be everyone's first choice, but having one's scholarship endorsed by the Supreme Court is hardly the mark of an "extremist." Case Western is a great school at a great university, and I felt quite welcome there and quite at home with all members of the community. One doesn't seek a deanship to advance a political agenda, and the school isn't choosing a political leader. The vast majority of the students, alumni, faculty, staff, and the administration will judge me on my merits as a prospective dean, my record of bipartisanship at the Federal Election Commission, my achievements, and the integrity of my writings and work, not by some political litmus test.
Calvin Massey (UC-Hastings) argues that "Brad Smith's political views have no relevance to his ability to be a Dean," and another commenter agrees:
Are Brad Smith's political views relevant to his ability to be Dean? No more so than if he held progressive views. When this happened in the UC system we saw the legal academy rally to Dean Chemerinsky's defense (rightly). Shouldn't we do the same for Smith before he's deprived a fair chance?
Dan concludes an update on his post:
Case faculty and students were probably interested in having both a dean search, and a deanship, that was uncontroversial. Whatever the merits of this dispute -- and I for one share Calvin's view on the role of political viewpoint in a dean search -- its very existence is, shall we say, a bummer for Case. Worse, whatever the merits of the choice, the administration is now probably feeling pressure to extend an offer to Smith -- so that people don't conclude that the school rejected him based on anti-conservative bias.