Saturday, February 17, 2007

Deans' Letter on Judicial Pay

Echoing calls for higher pay for federal judges by Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Kennedy and others, 140 law school deans sent a letter to the Congressional leadership essentially piling on. The letter, which was the idea of and authored by my own beloved dean, David Schizer, does not make any new arguments, and, from a public relations perspective, seems like a no-brainer for any particular dean--an essentially cost-free way to ingratiate his or her school with the federal judiciary. I don't mean to be cynical. Despite my own observations about income inequality, I don't disagree with the letter. Were I a law school dean (heaven forbid), I would sign it. All I'm saying is that it's not surprising that so many deans signed on. The mystery is why some deans didn't sign.

And some didn't. Most of deans of the top law schools signed, but there are a few notable absences. For example, the deans of 3 of the 4 elite California law schools (Berkeley, Stanford and USC) did not sign, although the UCLA dean did. Arguably we can explain Stanford dean Larry Kramer's refusal to sign by the fact that Kramer is a populist who does not have very high regard for what he considers the federal judiciary's self-appointed role as guardian of our liberties. But that doesn't explain why USC dean Ed McCaffery and Berkeley dean Chris Edley didn't sign. Both are quite mainstream figures. Two further unexplained absences are University of Chicago dean Saul Levmore and University of Virginia dean John Jeffries. So we are left with a puzzle: Why do Ed McCaffery, Chris Edley, Saul Levmore, and John Jeffries hate freedom?