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.
But wait, it gets worse:
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Also Friday, details emerged about the criticism of Chemerinsky that the university received in the days before Drake rescinded the job offer, including from California Chief Justice Ronald M. George, who criticized Chemerinsky's grasp of death penalty appeals.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.
That reactionary conservatives in OC would have a problem with Chemerinsky is not surprising:
He worked against California's three strikes law, argued in support of judicial review for detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and represented Valerie Plame Wilson, the CIA agent whose cover was blown by members of the Bush administration.
But what's this about L.A. County Supervisor (not my district, thankfully) voicing an opinion on this? Granted, Antonovich is a known Republican partisan, but he has no standing to try and affect anything in Orange Co. Here's what the AP says:
A conservative Los Angeles County politician asked about two dozen people in an e-mail last month how to prevent the University of California, Irvine from hiring renowned liberal scholar Erwin Chemerinsky as its founding law school dean, a spokesman for the politician said Friday.
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.
. . . The Antonovich e-mail was disclosed after UCI Chancellor Michael V. Drake withdrew an offer earlier this week to appoint Chemerinsky to the law school post.
What a stupid, arrogant, and distasteful thing to say.
UCI certainly has egg on its Administrative face, and there's nothing I can do about that. But as a voter in Los Angeles, I can do something about Antonovich. Here's the email I sent to his office:
I am appalled that Supervisor Antonovich would not only get involved with Orange County business, but that he would say the following: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.
This is a disgustingly partisan thing to say, and it indicates to me that Mr. Antonovich is no longer an advocate for citizens of his district, but has become a shill for the failed policies of the Bush Administration. I will work to defeat Mr. Antonovich in the 2008 election.
I was thus saddened to see Professor Chemerinsky hired and fired within the space of a week as the founding dean of the new law school at the University of California-Irvine. The events seem to me to speak poorly of university chancellor Michael Drake, who does nothing to clear up the controversy in his Los Angeles Times column this morning. Like David Horowitz, I have no taste for Professor Chemerinsky's clients or his causes. But it seems to me that in hiring and then firing Professor Chemerinsky Chancellor Drake has disgraced his institution.
For once, clear non-partisan thinking. How unusual.