There is an unexpected dust up over the nomination of George Mason law professor (and former Senate Judiciary Committee chief counsel) Michael E. O’Neill. The former aide to Sen. Arlan Specter has been accused of plagiarism in his legal publications and now may failed in his confirmation bid.
O’Neill is credited with helping push through the nominations of John G. Roberts Jr. and Samuel A. Alito Jr. as well as other controversial judicial picks. He has now become the controversy after the Supreme Court Economic Review, a peer-reviewed journal, issued a retraction of an article by O’Neill in 2004 due to the fact that “substantial portions” were “appropriated without attribution” from a book review by Anne C. Dailey, a law professor at the University of Connecticut. My former colleague Gerald M. Caplan, former dean of the McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, has also been allegedly copied without attribution.
Notably, Daniel D. Polsby, an editor of the Supreme Court Economic Review (and my former torts professor), is also the dean of the George Mason School of Law. Polsby was contacted by Professor Dailey. However, Polsby insisted that O’Neill was “duly chastised” and that”[t]he idea of O’Neill committing a theft is just impossible. It’s just impossible.”
Polsby said that O’Neill agreed to halt his tenure effort “will reapply for it.” In the meantime, Specter pushed him for the district court, which would give him lifetime tenure of a different sort. O’Neill notes that the school clearly him of any willful misconduct. Notably, another professor allegedly copies by O’Neill supports that view. Professor Neal Kumar Katyal says that he knows O’Neill and “I can’t imagine that he would intentionally copy this banal point from my article.”
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