Scholars ‘have had enough and are getting out,’ one professor wrote
Conservative law school professors commented on their upcoming departures from academia following UCLA law Professor Eugene Volokh’s announced move to a conservative think tank.
Gail Heriot, a professor at the University of San Diego School of Law, discussed her planned exit from academia in an email to The College Fix.
“I can only speak for myself and not for my four other center-right faculty colleagues who are also in the process of retiring.” Heriot wrote. “But in recent years it became obvious that USD’s administration would rather not have someone with my views around.”
“I figured I could accomplish a lot more in life if I didn’t have to deal with the everyday stresses and strains of being somewhere I’m not wanted,” she continued.
“Conservatives are leaving law faculties,” Heriot posted recently on X. “At U San Diego, five center-right law professors (including me) have had enough & are getting out.”
The Fix emailed Professor Volokh last week with questions regarding his move to the Hoover Institution and the state of right-wing law professors in academia.
Conservatives are leaving law faculties. UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh is retiring at the ripe old age of 56 & going the the Hoover Institution full time. At U San Diego, five center-right law professors (including me) have had enough & are getting out.https://t.co/Oj9KES2ItB
— Gail Heriot (@GailHeriot) September 22, 2023
“I expect to work on much the same projects at Hoover (which I view as part of ‘academia’) as I worked on at UCLA,” Volokh wrote. “I just hope to have more time and support to work on them.”
“I don’t really have much to say about right-leaning law professors in academia more broadly,” he said.
Volokh is a law professor at UCLA Law and currently a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution, according to his university bio.
Volokh explained his decision to move from UCLA to a full-time position at Hoover in a Sept. 19 post on The Volokh Conspiracy, his independent blog curated by Reason.
“I expect I’ll probably feel pretty much at home ideologically at Hoover, which is on balance an institution of the center-right.” Volokh wrote. “Naturally, I’m sure that there will be much my colleagues and I will disagree on, as there of course has been at UCLA—but that is the nature of a healthy academic institution.”
“(For whatever it’s worth, my sense is that the median ideological views at Hoover are much closer to the median American voter than are the median ideological views at the median top 20 U.S. law school,)” he wrote.
Volokh wrote that his move from academia to Hoover would give him greater independence to express his views.
“The important point is that I’ll be able to write and say what I think is right, regardless of whether I’m mostly, partly, or not at all in step with my colleagues or the administration,” he wrote. “I much look forward to this next chapter of my academic life.”
Hoover also announced that Volokh had joined as a fellow in a news release Sept. 19.
“Volokh’s appointment as a Hoover Institution visiting fellow became effective September 1.” according to the release. “On July 1, 2024, Volokh, 56, will become a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. He will also continue his affiliation with UCLA as distinguished professor of law emeritus.”
Right-leaning law professors are a minority in academia.
The Fix reported in 2022 on a study that year by Georgetown University’s Kevin Tobia and MIT’s Eric Martinez that found that only 9 percent of law professors in a sample of 667 identified as conservative. The study also highlighted the discrepancy between the percentages of law professors who identify as conservative and the higher percentages of lawyers who identify as conservative.
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