Study: Only Nine Percent of Law Professors Identify as Conservatives

A new study offers further evidence of the alarming decline of ideological diversity on our law faculties. A study by Georgetown University’s Kevin Tobia and MIT’s Eric Martinez was featured on College Fix that finds that only nine percent of law school professors identify as conservative at the top 50 law schools. Notably, a 2017 study found 15 percent of faculties were conservative. This is the result of years of faculty replicating their own ideological preferences and eradicating the diversity that once existed on faculties. When I began teaching in the 1980s, faculties were undeniably liberal but contained a significant number of conservative and libertarian professors. It made for a healthy and balanced intellectual environment. Today such voices are relatively rare and faculties have become political echo chambers, leaving conservatives and Republican students increasingly afraid to speak openly in class.

The trend is the result of hiring systems where conservative or libertarian scholars are often rejected as simply “insufficiently intellectually rigorous” or “not interesting” in their scholarship. This can clearly be true with individual candidates but the wholesale reduction of such scholars shows a more systemic problem. Faculty insist that there is no bias against conservatives, but the obviously falling number of conservative faculty speaks for itself.

In racial and gender discrimination cases, this type of pattern of de facto hiring preferences is routinely the basis for lawsuits. Obviously, intellectual diversity is different from racial discrimination.  This is no protected class and there is no statutory mandate to support challenges. Faculties know that it is near impossible to challenge their hiring decisions. However, the de facto result of years of biased hiring practices is reflected in the low number of conservative faculty at these schools.

When confronted, faculty will often shrug and say that they are open to promising conservative faculty but they simply have not found any. They will also question what is a conservative or a liberal — even though professors seem to have little problem in answering such polls with those terms. There is little sympathy for conservative and libertarian students who have few faculty offering opposing views — or liberal students who would like exposure to the full array of legal thought and interpretations.

Having taught for over three decades, I have never seen a more intolerant and orthodox environment. Schools have reached an ideological critical mass where faculties are replicating their own preferences. The overwhelming composition of faculties then serves to replicate and promote the views of liberal faculty on journals and in conferences.

For conservatives and libertarian students, the change in the environment is disheartening. For many schools, panels on decisions like Dobbs are composed of professors offering different views on why the decision is manifestly wrong without a dissenting voice in favor of the decision. Even on issues like dropping a school mascot, like GW’s Colonials, can feature panels without faculty offering the opposing view. Students also complain that conservative justices or theories are openly ridiculed in fundamental and required courses. When a faculty member shows such hostility to such theories in class, it sends a chilling message to students that opposing views may not be welcomed in class or in finals or papers.

There is obviously an academic freedom component to this problem. I take no issue with faculty members disagreeing with conservative interpretations. However, the complaint among students is that professors at various schools increasingly advocate in class and denigrate those with conservative jurisprudential views.

I frankly do not understand why professors want to maintain this one-sided environment in hiring. I was drawn to academia by the diversity of viewpoints and intellectual challenges on campuses. School publications and conferences today often run from the left to the far left. We have discussed a long line of incidents on this blog of conservative faculties being targeted by cancel campaigns with tepid support from their colleagues or administrations. We have become the face of intellectual orthodoxy and it is reflected in these numbers.

Even if one quibbles with these polls, most faculty will privately admit that there are few remaining conservatives or Republicans on their faculties. It is obvious and undeniable. This country is almost evenly divided politically. Yet, less than ten percent of our faculties hold views consistent with roughly half of the country, including many of our students. While no one is suggesting that faculties must reflect the political makeup of the nation, the reduction of opposing viewpoints has reached a crisis level for those who value intellectual diversity.

102 thoughts on “Study: Only Nine Percent of Law Professors Identify as Conservatives”

  1. “While no one is suggesting that faculties must reflect the political makeup of the nation ..”
    I am suggesting that. We have the quotas for everything else, and when they extend to the checkmark oppressed beyond their representative numbers, no one notices or cares.
    We have a near 50 50 nation so all of academia must represent that. All monies and efforts must be made until this massive injustice is rectified. No stone must be left unturned in an effort to do so as quickly as possible.
    Half the diversity funds nationwide must be immediately transferred to this effort to have half the nation properly represented and not oppressed and sabotaged at every turn. It’s a human right, it’s a civil right, and it’s a Constitutional right.

  2. For many years now, academia has preferentially hired Leftists, while discriminating against conservatives. They harass existing conservative professors, pressuring them to leave. They refuse to hire anyone remotely on the spectrum of the right.

    Then academia proclaims that their academics all agree on Left wing policy, claiming this legitimizes the policies.

  3. Having EARNED a J.D. in 1969, I say: the law “schools” are no longer training lawyers or attorneys (lawyers with clients), but are teaching political and social “activists” SHAME!!

  4. “This is the result of years of faculty replicating their own ideological preferences and eradicating the diversity that once existed on faculties.”

    Become part of the Borg!

    Lots of things replicating in the world today.

  5. Maybe the decline in the number of conservatives in academia is linked to the rise in fascism and hostility against education on the right? Just a thought.

      1. Sometimes the simplest explanation is the correct one. If your movement thinks elections are rigged only when their guys lose, universities are liberal indoctrination camps, and the problem with 21st century policies is not enough Jesus, don’t be surprised when academics leave your ranks.

      1. To clarify–I do not want there to be hostility towards public education from either side. I’d rather see non-partisan support for public education.

        I feel like our society is being Stuxneted. 🙁

  6. Conservative as in adherence and conservation of American Declaration and Constitution in principle and practice.

  7. “Study: Only Nine Percent of Law Professors Identify as Conservatives”

    – Professor Turley

    Irrelevant data.

    The Constitution is conservative.

    The Communist Manifesto is liberal.

    Deviation from strict adherence to the Constitution is a crime against fundamental law.

    America has deviated since Lincoln acted as Karl Marx’s “earnest of the epoch” leading America Progressively toward the “RECONSTRUCTION of a social world.”

    In a society of laws, the laws must be obeyed.

    Any and all forms and iterations of the principles of communism, Central Planning, Control of the Means of Producition, Redistribution of Wealth and Social Engineering, are high-criminally un-American and unconstitutional.

    For a century and a half, liberals have been the direct and mortal enemies of the, not “transformed,” but preserved United States of America.

    The judicial branch, with emphasis on the Supreme Court, MUST fulfill its sworn oath to VIGOROUSLY conduct JUDICIAL REVIEW in support of the clear and obvious, meaning and intent of the literal words of the English language in the CONSERVATIVE U.S. Constitution.

    Marbury vs. Madison

    The U.S. Supreme Court case Marbury v. Madison (1803) established the principle of judicial review—the power of the federal courts to declare legislative and executive acts unconstitutional. The unanimous opinion was written by Chief Justice John Marshall.

    Judicial Review in the United States

    The doctrine of judicial review holds that the courts are vested with the authority to determine the legitimacy of the acts of the executive and the legislative branches of government. The State as well as Federal courts are bound to render decisions according to the principles of the Federal Constitution. The executive and legislative branches of government are also obligated to perform their duties with serious attention to constitutional principles. Still, where any actions by the executive or legislative branches are challenged in the courts, the judicial branch holds the ultimate authority in determining what is constitutional.

    – DOJ

    1. For a century and a half, liberals have been in the forefront of policies that benefit all Americans, not just the idle rich.

      1. Including progressive prices and availability, arbitrage games, redistributive schemes, semantic confusion, diversity [dogma], political congruence, cargo cults, and human rites.

      2. Irrelevant and immaterial – oh, and obtuse – you cite no U.S. law.

        Americans are free, Americans don’t need benefits, dependents and parasites do.

        Thou Shalt Not Covet – You reveal your criminal tendencies to sin and steal as you sin through your covetousness.

        You’re envious of the success that others have achieved; you communists are “owed” a living, right?

        The only thing you dependents and parasites deserve is charity derived of the hearts of the good citizens in church – beyond charity, you’re on your own, comrade.

        Communists (liberals, progressives, socialists, democrats, RINOs) are direct and mortal enemies of the American thesis and fundamental law who have illicitly “benefited” foreigners, violating and nullifying the Constitution, and committing egregious and capital crimes of high office.

        “Freedom and Self-Reliance”

        Article 1, Section 8, allows taxation for ONLY debt, defense and infrastructure (i.e. general Welfare – ALL WELL ADVANCE), excluding individual, specific, and particular welfare, favor and charity.

        Americans are free to make their own success; government has no legal basis to provide for dependents and parasites, or to admit illegal aliens who must have been compassionately repatriated on January 1, 1863, per extant immigration law, the Naturalization Act of 1802, or parasites and dependents who have crossed an international order as criminal invaders.

    2. To be fair, The Constitution was once liberal (i.e. divergent) state of the art, but with progress has acquired a conservative judgment and label.

  8. That puffer’ed professor’s bend to the left is of no surprise, regardless of their discipline. Who were their mentors? The left’s academies of Marxist professors following the Frankfurt Schools “Critical Theory” (Frankfort’s theory stressed intellectual and culture development, in lieu of traditional Marxist theory of economy and class.) are repugnant and cancerous for our republic.

    I cannot think of a way of expedience to remove this ideology that is so far entrenched, postulating that America is Dystopian, and true Utopia is in Socialism, Marxism, Communism or whatever term of subterfuge you wish. Shame, Ridicule, and Mockery for these weak puffers, their thought processes, counter intuitive understanding of history and the dire results to societies adopting the ‘ism’ du jour is appropriate. Do these Professors understand the pathway they are laying, or are they so far gone to think any of the ‘ism’s’ above will protect them from detrimental effects they produce on society?

  9. It’s unfortuanate that “only nine percent” of law professor self-identify as conservatives.

    But there’s also a reason for that. As a practical matter, short of going to work for a company that is controlled by a known Leftie–Gates’s Microsoft Corp. is a good example–that only three venues where vocal Left-wingers can find gainful employment are (1) government; (2) non-profits; and (3) academe. A disproportionate number end up in the academic community because, once they get tenure (typically, a six-year process), they cannot, for all practical purposes, be fired. They have lifetime employment, the better to poison the minds of millions of our nation’s young people. I make these comments as one who spent a half-decade as an academic (1983-88).

  10. This factor, which is probably true in ALL disciplines taught in colleges, is by design. Leftists started working overtime to infiltrate education early in the Twentieth Century. Most of the recently retired/current crop of professors is a result of leftists spending their lives in schools in order to avoid military service during the Vietnam War. Bill Clinton is a classic example. In short, this country is now screwed as long as higher education, education in general, is kept on an ivory tower. Remember that Hillary Clinton was a conservative Goldwater Girl before she went to Wellesley. Universities and colleges are nothing but brain-washing facilities.

  11. This is hard to understand. I thought those on the left were proponents of diversity.

    Perhaps if Republican politicians were really of any use — sorry, but I am a bit of a cynic — the next time they are in power, they would pass a law conditioning institutional federal loan eligibility on the obligation to provide actual education rather than indoctrination. And one big factor to meet that requirement would be the hiring of faculty with diverse viewpoints (along with unfettered free speech rights for all on campus).

    1. Who decides what is education vs. indoctrination? A bunch of lawmakers in Washington, DC?

      When you say “hiring of faculty with diverse viewpoints”, should faculty who have conservative viewpoints be preferred to those with liberal ones all else being equal?

      1. Gerald, this news report will answer you question. Indoctrination and prejudice has led to the individual being suspended and likely fired. It’s amazing what people say in private but won’t say in public.

        Many videos that include one of the entities involved are banned. I wonder if this will be banned even though it was on a local news station.

  12. Who wants this NYPD cop prosecuted?

    NYPD cop punches a woman who attacked this cop while making an arrest of a guy with a loaded gun who was wanted for murder.

  13. In my view, one major factor that has led to this sad reality is that, ironically, a key pillar of today’s “liberal” political strategy is complete intolerance (to the point of meanness) of any view that disagrees with theirs. As they have become increasingly progressive, their positions have become more based on feelings and less on logic and reason. As a result, rather than actually debate the true merits of either side’s position, they just simply shut down the other side with name-calling and word manipulation. There is no real discussion of any data and facts that support their views. A good current example is our President calling people who believe in policies like America First or controlling our borders semi-fascist without providing any specificity for why that is the case. Just calling them evil means plenty of gullible people will believe it without asking “How is that exactly?”, and that achieves their goal of feeling good about themselves and getting and staying in power.

  14. There is no room for diversity of thought when your goal is to train the next generation of leaders tasked with the economic, political, and ideological enslavement of the American public.

    1. It’s more likely that most of society has progressed beyond the anti-views of right-wing legal philosophy. Progress. Have some. Today.

      1. The fact that almost all elections are within 5 points of 50/50 is clear evidence the public is pretty much split wright down the middle. Just because everyone you deal with is on one end of the political spectrum doesn’t mean that there aren’t just as many people out there who disagree with you.

        The US is not a majority hive mind, thankfully, and any sort of ideological unitary view is not “progress” under any definition. No view is sacred to the point of being above challenge and criticism and any that cannot stand strident and vocal critique are unworthy of defense or consideration.

        1. Fairly put and agreed.

          But when you characterize your political opposition’s goal as the “ideological enslavement of the American public”, it undermines your point in failing to extend the same good faith legitimacy to people who might disagree with you.

  15. Purely a coincidence. No.
    There’s a black ball system.
    Remember when the education system was the opposite of what it is now?
    Academia is a fish rotting from the head back.

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