“Teresa R. Wagner is a conservative Republican who wants to teach law. Her politics may have hurt her career.”

January 10th, 2012

Oh boy Liptak writes close to home sometimes.

I heavily sanitized my resume–omitted any affiliations with the Federalist Society or my talks at Second Amendment conferences sponsored by the NRA. Fortunately, I have never worked for any ideologically-oriented groups. I’ve worked for 2 federal judges, the Department of Defense, and a law firm. I never summered at IJ, Koch, FedSoc, IHS, or anywhere else. So my resume, unless you squinted hard, didn’t scream libertarian. Teresa Wagner, not so much.

“My client is an ideologue,” Mr. Fieweger said. “She does believe in conservative values.” Ms. Wagner has worked for the National Right to Life Committee, which opposes abortion and euthanasia, and the Family Research Council, which takes conservative positions on social issues.

John Mcginnis (who advised me on my AALS foray) said things are getting better:

John O. McGinnis, a law professor at Northwestern University and an author of the Georgetown study, said last week that “it is still the case the legal academy is quite ideologically monochromatic.” But he added that things seem to be changing.

“My perception, for what it is worth, is that the younger generation in academics is largely quite open to those of all political views,” he said. “They did not experience the polarizing effects of the 1960s and the Vietnam War.”

Wally Olson sums up my thinking well:

“I have serious misgivings about asking the courts to fix this through lawsuits,” Mr. Olson said. “It threatens to intrude on collegiality, empower some with sharp elbows to sue their way into faculty jobs, invite judges into making subjective calls of their own which may reflect their assumptions and biases, all while costing a lot of money and grief.”

“At the same time,” he added, “there’s a karma factor here. Law faculties at Iowa and elsewhere have been enthusiastic advocates of wider liability for other employers that get sued. They’re not really going to ask for an exemption for themselves, are they?”

Update: More from Elie Mystal (whom I finally met last week at AALS!)

Conservatives writ large aren’t a protected class, but the conservative law professor is damn near an endangered species. They need help, not because they are genetically predisposed to be crappy law professors, but because years of discrimination against them tell conservative legal minds to find something else to do besides become a law professor. There are lots of places where conservative principles are welcome, but legal academia isn’t one of them. . . .

Whether or not they grovel for it, something needs to be done to help the American conservative law professor. Because the way things are going, I’m taking screen caps of the Volokh Conspiracy and sending them to be archived in the Museum of Natural History.