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Law Deans Bring Home The Bacon
By Mary W Maxwell, PhD
As recently as 12 years ago, professors from 137 law schools signed a joint letter that blamed the US Supreme Court for wrongly interfering in the 2000 presidential election. (The Court stopped the vote count in Florida, throwing the election to Bush.) Today, the same law professors would probably not think it wise or even 'feasible' to take collective action. .
This is a great shame. Citizens need any intellectual help they can get when it comes to defending the Constitution. Today, the great World Government is doing all it can to overthrow that United States, mostly from within, and we should be able to count on members of the professions to help society.
In 2005, when the late Jane Jacobs was in her ninety-first year, she wrote a superb book called "Dark Age Ahead." She claimed that there are five things we must do quickly if we are to avoid a dark age.
One of the five is to revitalize the ethics of the professions. I believe this can be done both by members of the professions and by onlookers.
This article is about the academic law profession. Its members are not quite the same as 'the legal profession.' Most of them don't argue cases in court and don't have to worry about billing their clients. To whom then are they answerable? If paid by a public university they are answerable to the public. In general, they are answerable to students, alumni, and the judicial system.
Fortunately, each of the thousands of law professors is unshielded by the kind of off-putting 'badge of authority' that keeps us away from DOJ persons or governmental military types, or even our local police. The typical academic is someone you can talk to ­ and her phone line can be reached through the university switchboard. You can ask a simple question such as "What should we be doing now about the Appeals Court's outrageous dismissal of Gallop v Cheney, which had the potential to 'resolve' 9/11?"
A rather more pugnacious approach would be to write to your Alumni Relations office (used to be called the Alumni office ­ there's a big difference there). Inquire about the salaries of the law professors, and particularly the dean of the law school. Naturally, in a public university the salaries are public information. If you find an unnecessarily high pay for deans, you might write back to the Alumni Relations office and ask for the justification.
Why would a law dean get a very high salary? He or she has to hire and fire staff, set standards for admission of students, and determine the curriculum. But there are committees to share those burdens. Granted, the dean may have to take some flack regarding, for example, plagiarism by a student or dissidence by a (low-level) faculty member. But even here the outcome is predictable: the plagiarizing episode will be swept under the rug; the dissident will be quietly ostracized.
Law professor Paul Caron at Cincinnati found in 2006 that deans at the top law schools were receiving an average salary of $460, 000. That's like being paid a thousand dollars every day at breakfast, and then having ninety-five thousand extra put under the Christmas tree (which can pay the taxes on the $365k). Why are his/her services worth that much? If the school lowered the pay wouldn't they still get good candidates?
I speculate that the pay is high because it would be dangerous to have a low-paid guy or gal sitting in the wood-paneled, judge-portrait-lined dean's office. He or she might be tripped up by a reporter into saying something like "The Constitution is our sine qua non," or "Long live the Founding Fathers!" And we can't have that, post 9/11, can we?
Universities need people who can be counted on to go with the flow. By go with the flow I mean such things as go with Homeland Security, or go with whatever spin the president of the US is putting on international law at the moment. For persons too young to remember: a quite different approach was normal for universities in the past. Governments rightly worried that academics would spew forth high principle and offer vehement criticism of any unconstitutional moves. It is only lately that anyone would suggest that the university's mission is to protect the government.
Back to the problem of the high salaries for deans. My training as a political scientist disposes me to skepticism. I hypothesize that the purpose of the million-dollars-every-two-years salary is a way of zipping the lips of the dean. They ain't gonna sign no protest letters about Gore v Bush, or Kelo v New London, or whatever the latest violation of the Constitution happens to be, right? Would you yourself give up that kind of money?
Additionally, the dean's pay may create a barrier to constitutional-type action by lower faculty members. They are aware of the dean's paycheck; this will effectively inhibit them from trying to recruit his assistance. At the same time they will feel more anxious to make statements even as individuals, recognizing that they could thereby jeopardize the dean's throne.
All I can say is, if you want our Constitution to be protected, don't just look at what Congresspersons are doing or at what the Supreme Court is doing. Look into the legal profession. As part of revitalizing the ethics of the professions, recognize that it is scandalous that law professors are not speaking out as they should, particularly about judicial corruption.
I hope I have not conveyed that the professors' personal calculation on a day-to-day basis is a monetary one. No, it is much more subtle; it is emotional. And, as is always the case with the professions, it entails a (kneejerk) closing of ranks. The remedy, it would appear, has to do with changing the carrots and changing the sticks. This article mentioned but one of the carrots.
Mary W Maxwell, PhD, can be reached at credosbooks.com
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