From June 2 through 4, the University Faculty for Life (UFL) held its tiny, 10th annual convention at Georgetown University. Just 89 of its 600 members showed. The first plenary speaker, Pro-Life Caucus director Maggie Wynne, gave attendees a depressing rundown of recent lobbying on Capitol Hill. Though most Americans are opposed to abortion on demand, according to Wynne, the law that guarantees it (Roe v. Wade) remains largely unassailable in Congress, and may stay that way for a long time. Why? Part of the reason may be that our future congressmen, judges, and litigators are getting their law degrees under the tutelage of the mostly partisan, pro-choice professorship that dominates law faculties around the country. This doesn’t bode well for a fair fight.
Consider the climate in today’s Association of American Law Schools (AALS). On January 3, Charles Fried, a Harvard Law School professor, published an op-ed piece in The Washington Post roundly criticizing the AALS for failing to represent and accommodate ideological diversity in its annual meeting—”unless,” he wrote, “your idea of diversity is the full gamut of opinions from left to far left.” In the January 7 Post, AALS president Gregory Williams and executive director Carl Monk called Fried’s jeremiad a “false insinuation that the AALS excludes organizations from its meeting based on their viewpoint.”
Perhaps, but the numbers suggest that discrimination is going on in legal academe—that is, if you believe, as most liberals do, that underrepresentation equals discrimination. According to James Lindgren, a pro-choice professor of law at Northwestern University, who shared some of his statistics on the demographics of the legal academy at this year’s AALS conference, “Many of the groups most likely to be pro-life in the general population—Republicans, Hispanics, and Catholics—are among the most underrepresented groups in law teaching. Compared to the full-time working population, Republicans are at 32 percent of parity, Hispanics at 31 percent, and Catholics at 53 percent.” Though Lindgren says that Republican females make up 15 percent of the full-time working population, they make up only half of a percentage point of law teachers. “Thus,” says Lindgren, “female Republicans are at only 3 percent of parity, while African Americans, which we tend to think of as one of the most underrepresented groups, are at 60 percent.”
UFL member Teresa Collett, a professor at South Texas College of Law and chair of an AALS section, attended Lindgren’s lecture at this year’s AALS. During the Q&A, Collett said: “I could hold a mini-convention in my hotel room of women law professors who were Christian, pro-life, and Republican.” Collett says this prompted another attendee, who said she was the dean of a major law school, to respond that she would be reluctant to hire a pro-life professor because of collegiality concerns. Collett says that when she questioned the dean about this in private, she said she would worry about the willingness of her faculty to interact with a pro-life professor. The dean in question denies this and asked that neither she nor her institution be mentioned in this article. Professor Mike Schutt of Regent University Law School, who was also there, says: “I remember the woman who responded to Teresa said she would be concerned about collegiality.”
Samuel Calhoun, a professor at Washington and Lee University School of Law, who delivered a paper at this year’s UFL meeting, tells a similar story about the pro-choice one-sidedness of the AALS. He says he attended the AALS conference in 1995 and went to a session that included a presentation on abortion: “There’s a pro-life version and a pro-choice version of the history of abortion in America. The speaker essentially gave the pro-choice version, pure and simple. There was no recognition of the fact that virtually everything she said was highly controversial.” And, says Calhoun, no one spoke for pro-lifers. Calhoun wrote a letter to the panel’s moderator complaining, but received no reply. He says now: “My experience there suggested to me that the AALS was not a forum that was going to encourage real debate about this issue.”
Even Lindgren, who consulted for the National Organization for Women on abortion clinic bombing litigation, said: “I’ve been going to the AALS since 1983. There have been a few conservative programs done by individual sections—not many—but I’ve never heard anyone express conservative views in a program that was sponsored by the leadership of the organization. Ever.”