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Academic Freedom and the Chemerinsky Case By: David Horowitz
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, September 14, 2007

Erwin Chemerinsky is a liberal law professor at Duke. He was recently appointed dean of the new law school at UC Irvine and then abruptly fired by its chancellor because his political views would allegedly outrage conservatives. The firing of Chemerinsky is itself an outrage. It is a violation of the principle of academic freedom and should be protested by anyone who cares about American higher education.

I have myself debated Professor Chemerinsky, whose politics are in the Alan Colmes mode. Needless to say we don't agree on most things. But Chemerinksy is an intelligent legal mind and well qualified for the position, and his politics should not be a criterion for hiring or firing him.

After posting the above I received the following email:

Hi - a friend sent this - it's from Eugene Volokh’s blog, who is a libertarian Jewish legal historian at UCLA (you probably know that). It seems the blogsphere is burning up tonight. on the topic of Chemerinsky's firing.

The Professor's role in the Rachel Corrie suit against Caterpillar was news to me, but would also explain the reason UCI rescinded its offer. Again, this is not a conservative versus liberal thing. Many true liberals found Corrie's and the ISM's campaign opposing Israel's self defense against suicide attacks appalling. UCI has come under severe criticism from both conservatives and liberals for anti-Semitism among its Muslim students (one such student even held a workshop titled "Israel, the Fourth Reich".) Having a Dean who represented someone sympathetic to the International Solidarity Movement and associated with Replacement Theology would only add to concerns about anti-Semitism.

I looked up this case on Google and found that Chemerinsky's argument is that Caterpillar is liable for the death of Corrie because it should have known that the Israelis would use the bulldozers to violate international law. This argument is reprehensible on several grounds. First the right of self-defense is the primary principle of all international law. Even Jews get to have it. Second, setting a precedent which makes companies liable for doing business with Jews who are defending themselves from genocidal attacks would make the success of the Arab/Muslim genocidal war against the Jews more likely.

I also didn't realize when I wrote the original post that UC Irvine didn't have a law school and that they were going to build one around Chemerinsky. This makes their reluctance to go through with the hire a lot more understandable.

However, the principle of academic freedom is also at stake. What UC Irvine should have done is said, we will hire you as a professor (however reprehensible your politics) but we can't build a law school around you.

David Horowitz is the founder of The David Horowitz Freedom Center and author of the new book, One Party Classroom.

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