August 28, 2005

Are all the lawprofs Democrats?

Nearly all are, per Adam Liptak, writing in the NYT:
[A] study, to be published this fall in The Georgetown Law Journal, analyzes 11 years of records reflecting federal campaign contributions by professors at the top 21 law schools as ranked by U.S. News & World Report. Almost a third of these law professors contribute to campaigns, but of them, the study finds, 81 percent who contributed $200 or more gave wholly or mostly to Democrats; 15 percent gave wholly or mostly to Republicans.

The percentages of professors contributing to Democrats were even more lopsided at some of the most prestigious schools: 91 percent at Harvard, 92 at Yale, 94 at Stanford. At the University of Virginia, on the other hand, contributions were about evenly divided between the parties. The sample sizes at some schools may be too small to allow for comparisons, though it bears noting that by this measure the University of Chicago is slightly more liberal than Berkeley.

For what it's worth, I haven't given any political contributions in a while, but when I did, it was to Democrats — mostly Russ Feingold. I'm actually surprised by how many lawprofs — 15% — the study found had contributed to Republicans.

Anyway, I haven't read the law review article, but this seems to be a key point:
Law schools that take race into account in admissions decisions, the study says, "open themselves to charges of intellectual inconsistency" if they do not also address the ideological imbalances on their faculties.
Charge a lawprof with inconsistency. Really. Go ahead. I strongly encourage you. You'll have lots of fun.

UPDATE: Pandagon accuses me of making just making a joke about this and not "challenging" it. I will therefore have to accuse Pandagon not really getting the point of the Althouse comments section. I'm opening a discussion here. I could say more, but I'm waiting for the commenters to run with it. Then, I join in the comments. But suffice it to say, lawprofs will not agree that supporting affirmative action in admissions is inconsistent with lawprofs being nearly all liberals. Tell me why you think it's inconsistent and I'll respond.

MORE: Why did my flippant attitude rile Pandagon (and others)? Are they really put out that I'm not more substantive? Of course not. Their real problem is that they know very well that affirmative action and a liberal faculty are two things lawprofs generally want very much and that lawprofs really will come up with the arguments that are needed to harmonize these two policies. Chiding me for not saying more is just a smokescreen. They know what I'm saying and they know they'd do what I'm saying if they were put on the spot. But go ahead. Try to put a lawprof on the spot. Go ahead. I strongly encourage you. You'll have lots of fun.

15 comments:

Thersites said...

Aren't these numbers for law profs roughly consistent with lawyers in general, especially the richer ones? I'd imagine the percentages aren't the same but that there's a rough correspondence. And why shouldn't lawyers give to Democrats when the GOP routinely uses anti-"trial lawyer" rhetoric?

Ann Althouse said...

For one thing, there are an awful lot of (rich) lawyers who absolutely do not call themselves "trial lawyers" and would be offended if you called them that.

Thersites said...

So you agree with me, then? Sorry, but I don't understand your intent in your reply.

ziemer said...

thersites:

"trial lawyer" means "plaintiffs' personal injury lawyer."

defense attorneys might be lawyers who do trial work, but they are not called "trial lawyers."

they're called "litigation attorneys."

Thersites said...

ziemer: I know. That's why I put "trial lawyers" in "quotation marks."

Earth Girl said...

thersites suggests comparing the law prof stats with lawyers. I'd be interested in comparing the law prof stats with other profs...say English or Sociology profs.

Yevgeny Vilensky said...

earth girl--

Why English or Sociology? I already looked at a study that measured the relative number of self-described conservatives and liberals on these faculties. It is not good. English was something like 40 to 1 (i.e. only about 2.5% were conservative).

Look here

Why not look at fields like Chemistry or Computer Science or Economics, where the numbers were much less lopsided (between 1.6 and 3 to 1... i.e. facutlies were between 25% and 40% conservative)?

I think that's the whole point. The more potential a field has for politicization, i.e. English, Poli Sci, Law, Sociology, etc., the more likely are there to be very very very low numbers of conservatives.

Wave Maker said...

That last quote is stupid. Shall we apply strict scrutiny to political ideology of professors now?

Simon said...

I don't accept quota admission as valid for ethnicity, and I certainly don't accept its validity for a politically-balanced faculty. It is, on the other hand, rather sad that more Republicans, conservatives and originalists do not seek to get onto the faculty. There seems to be something rather brute-force about demanding to change the judiciary, to root out judicial activism through nothing more than the appointment process, while doing little or nothing about the supply of raw material for the legal profession. As Scalia has noted, "you could fire a cannon loaded with grapeshot into the best law schools in the country - including Chicago - and not hit an originalist". That's not healthy, but it won't be fixed by faculty quotas.

Sean said...

I'd be pretty confident, thersites, that the percentage of Republicans among high-priced corporate lawyers is much higher than 15%. Note that known Republicans like John Roberts don't seem to have any political problems at big corporate law firms, whereas Anne herself has noted that any sort of traditional flag-waving conservative would be a total pariah at a law school.

ziemer said...

thersites,

if you understand that, then what does your question mean?

and there is nowhere near a rough correspondence between law faculties and the bar generally in this regard.

Jack Roy said...

Actually, only 5% of professors gave to Republicans. Only 30-ish gave at all, mind.

Which also masks exactly how big the disparity is, at least as can be measured from donation data. If, say, law profs were politically diverse but fairly unified on one set of issues (call it "schmabortion," although it could be anything), and one of the two major candidates had strong views on schmabortion in the opposite direction as the majority of law profs, what you would expect to find would be remaining diversity of opinion, but far less enthusiasm among that candidate's supporters. Which would be perfectly consistent with both a 50/50% split in voting, but a large disparity in giving.

That, of course, is not the case with law profs. But it's important to keep sight of the usefulness of these statistics.

Jim Lindgren said...

Thersites wrote: Aren't these numbers for law profs roughly consistent with lawyers in general, especially the richer ones? I'd imagine the percentages aren't the same but that there's a rough correspondence.


Actually, I studied this and no, practicing lawyers are very different from law faculties in their political orientation.

c&d said...

You might want to read what Leiter has to say.

gs said...

Is this one of Ann's challenges? I enlist Gilbert and Sullivan as my champions.

ALTHOUSE:
I'm Ann Althouse, a chaired lawfprof,
And many are the matters I am mistress of.
I blog as well as blogged can be,
And never inconsistently.

CHORUS OF LAW STUDENTS:
She's Ann Althouse, a chaired lawfprof,
And many are the matters she is mistress of.
She blogs as well as blogged can be,
And never inconsistently.

VOICE:
What, never?

ALTHOUSE:
No, never.

VOICE:
What, never?

ALTHOUSE:
Well, hardly ever.

CHORUS OF LAW STUDENTS:
She's Ann Althouse, a chaired lawfprof,
And many are the matters she is mistress of.
She blogs as well as blogged can be,
Hardly ever inconsistently.