“essential to the quality of our enterprise”
Everyone seems to like the idea of diversity unless we’re talking about ideological diversity.
Randy Barnett writes at the Washington Post:
Our letter to the Association of American Law Schools
Recently, the former-Provost of Stanford University, John Etchemendy, gave a speech entitled The Threat From Within in which he observed:
Over the years, I have watched a growing intolerance at universities in this country – not intolerance along racial or ethnic or gender lines – there, we have made laudable progress. Rather, a kind of intellectual intolerance, a political one-sidedness, that is the antithesis of what universities should stand for. . . . We need to encourage real diversity of thought in the professoriate, and that will be even harder to achieve. It is hard for anyone to acknowledge high-quality work when that work is at odds, perhaps opposed, to one’s own deeply held beliefs. But we all need worthy opponents to challenge us in our search for truth. It is absolutely essential to the quality of our enterprise.
As it happens, for several years, a group of conservative and libertarian law professors from a variety of law schools has quietly been urging the Association of American Law Schools, which has taken a leadership role in addressing racial and gender diversity–including by establishing a Racial Diversity Task Force in 1999–to do the same with viewpoint or political diversity. Our complaint was not limited to the gross political one-sidedness of the Annual Meeting of the AALS, but primarily concerned the gross political imbalance of law faculties–especially in such subjects as public law where viewpoint most affects a professor’s legal scholarship and teaching.
Although we were treated respectfully–and some marginal, though welcome, steps were taken this year to diversify the annual AALS program–as the following letter to the AALS explains, our requests for concrete preliminary steps to address the existing pervasive imbalance of law faculties have apparently been denied. I should also note that the meeting with the Executive Committee described in the letter, which took place in January 2016, was the culmination of two years of meetings with the AALS leadership and staff in which we requested, among other things, such a meeting–requests that were initially rebuffed.
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