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Chemerinsky to be Rehired as Irvine Dean

Posted Sep 17, 2007 1:14 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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In a remarkable about-face, Erwin Chemerinsky is to be rehired as dean of the new law school being created at the University of California at Irvine.

For the second time in less than a week, university Chancellor Michael Drake traveled to Durham, N.C., over the weekend, the Los Angeles Times reports, and Chemerinsky's on-again, off-again appointment as the fledgling law school's new dean is now a go once more. Last week, Drake lowered the boom on the renowned Duke University constitutional law professor, telling him he was no longer a desired hire.

In a statement posted by UC Irvine, the two pledge their commitment to academic freedom and say: "Many issues were addressed in depth, including several areas of miscommunication and misunderstanding. All issues were resolved to our mutual satisfaction."

According to Brian Leiter's Law School Reports, Chemerinsky said today in an e-mail to colleagues that Drake "provided me the great possible assurance of academic freedom for the dean and all faculty."

Chemerinsky had reportedly signed a contract accepting the dean's position, subject to approval by university regents, only about a week before he was fired last week. As discussed in earlier ABAJournal.com posts, Chemerinsky said the chancellor told him his liberal views were too controversial. Drake said his decision had nothing to do with Chemerinsky's political views, but didn't fully explain his reasoning.

The Times reports today that "a group of prominent Orange County Republicans and Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich wanted to derail the appointment" and California Chief Justice Ronald M. George "criticized Chemerinsky's grasp of death penalty appeals."

Although Drake insists Chemerinsky's polarizing approach rather than his politics was the issue, by the end of last week Drake was in the hot seat and some faculty were calling for his resignation.

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