first_imgIRVINE: The scholar was deemed “too politically controversial” to be head of the new law school. By Gillian Flaccus THE ASSOCIATED PRESS The University of California, Irvine, has withdrawn its offer to make renowned legal scholar Erwin Chemerinsky dean of its new law school because he is “too politically controversial,” he said Wednesday. Chemerinsky, a liberal scholar and commentator on constitutional law who recently represented exposed CIA agent Valerie Plame, said in a telephone interview that he signed a contract with the university last week after being offered the dean’s post on Aug. 16. The offer was contingent on the approval of the University of California Board of Regents, he said. UC Irvine Chancellor Michael V. Drake met with Chemerinsky on Tuesday and told him the offer had been withdrawn because some board members were concerned about his politics, the scholar said. “He said that I had proven to be too politically controversial; those were his exact words,” Chemerinsky said. “He said that … to get me approved in the Board of Regents would be a bloody fight, and even if we won the fight it would have damaged the law school.” The school’s decision, which Drake confirmed, drew immediate criticism from legal scholars. The institution will be the first new public law school in California in 40 years and is expected to welcome its first class in 2009. The university recently announced that a $20 million donation from Orange County developer and billionaire Donald Bren will pay for the dean’s salary and 11 faculty positions. Chemerinsky said he had no intention of creating an overly liberal law school. “I was looking to hire top professors from all over the country, reflecting a great diversity of viewpoints,” Chemerinsky said. “I thought we had a chance to create a great law school.” In a printed statement, Drake offered few details on the school’s decision. “My decision is no reflection whatsoever on his qualifications, but I must have complete confidence that the founding dean and I can partner effectively in building our law school,” Drake said. “As in all decisions, I must do what I believe is in the best interests of our university.” Chemerinsky taught for 21 years at the University of Southern California law school before moving to Duke University in 2004.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img