I passed on blogging that Rasmussen piece when I noticed it yesterday, but I'm blogging it today because of Instapundit's reaction, which might ring clear to blog readers but is utterly (and, I assume, deliberately) obtuse from my perspective within the law academy.
You don't fix what you don't see as a problem. First, I think the 82/11% balance is not going to be seen as an underrepresentation of conservatives. Who says the academic political midpoint is right where the 2 major parties divide? The academy is thinking through ideas and data and aiming at what is true and accurate or just and fair. The political parties are trying to win elections. As for Christians — half Christians is plenty of Christians. I'm surprised it's that much, but you want ideas and ways of thinking represented, not a correspondence to the numbers in the population. Why build in a majority viewpoint that replicates the viewpoint present in the population? You want debate and challenging assumptions.
Second, and I suspect this was your response to my first point, there are many liberals and lefties who don't want debate from the right and who are intent on excluding at least some conservative thinking as unworthy of serious consideration. This attitude was crisply displayed by lawprof Mark Tushnet in a blog post that got a lot of attention a few weeks ago:
The culture wars are over; they lost, we won... My own judgment is that taking a hard line (“You lost, live with it”) is better than trying to accommodate the losers, who – remember – defended, and are defending, positions that liberals regard as having no normative pull at all... (And taking a hard line seemed to work reasonably well in Germany and Japan after 1945.)That's the part that got the most attention, but I was more struck by this, under the "fuck Anthony Kennedy" heading:
There’s a lot of liberal constitutional scholarship taking Anthony Kennedy’s “thought” and other conservative opinions as a guide to potentially liberal outcomes if only the cases are massaged properly. Stop it.As someone who used to write a lot of law review articles that did take Anthony Kennedy's writing seriously — with that very idea of connecting it to liberal outcomes — this gave me a nauseated, sinking feeling. I believe that most of what I spent decades writing was regarded by many of those who hold power within academia as toxic because it gave air to what they wanted to die. Those things conservatives say are not supposed to be understood or shown any respect. They are beyond the pale of decent debate. Since the academy defines the range of professional debate for itself, it processes the diversity problem into a nonproblem.
Third, there's the idea that the students are ill-served if the lawprofs don't give them a full range of opinion. But, again, what is the relevant range? And think of how lawprofs operating over the decades can shape the entire legal profession's notion of what counts as the range of what counts as legitimate, lawyerly opinion. The opportunity is so tempting. And you don't have to feel bad about it once you believe what you want to believe: It's not wrong, it's right.