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Opinion: So it’s publish <i>and</i> perish now?

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In the 9:48 p.m. version of our Erwin Chemerinsky story, Times reporters Garrett Therolf and Henry Weinstein drop a bombshell guaranteed to chill the hearts of any newspaper opinion editor:

Chemerinsky and [UC Irvine Chancellor Michael] Drake agreed the new dean’s dismissal was motivated in part by an Aug. 16 opinion article in the Los Angeles Times, the same day the job offer was made. In it, Chemerinsky asserted that Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was ‘about to adopt an unnecessary and mean-spirited regulation that will make it harder for those on death row to have their cases reviewed in federal court.’ But Drake and Chemerinsky split sharply on what role the article played in the decision to fire the incoming dean and whether academic freedom was at stake. ‘Shouldn’t we as academics be able to stand up for people on death row?’ Chemerinsky said. Drake said ‘we had talked to him in June about writing op-ed pieces and that he would have to focus on things like legal education in this new role, and then here comes another political piece. It wasn’t the subject, it was its existence. What he said doesn’t matter.’

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He would have to focus on things like legal education is the part that really tells me Michael Drake isn’t going to win any Manager of the Year prizes any time soon. I guess academic freedom’s just another word for ‘stick to the hyper-narrow confines of your job, at least when communicating with the public.’ No more Karl Rove pieces for you, Dean Lemann!

The deal-breaking op-ed is here. Amina Khan poured a heaping of historical doubt on Drake’s he’ll-upset-the-Regents excuse here. Some righty defenses of Chemerinsky here. And check today’s editorial, and op-ed by Douglas Kmiec.


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