March 31, 2006

Columbia Responds to Levey and Vise Versa

In an op-ed in the March 24 New York Sun (abbreviated version here; full version for $ here), I explored the scandal-plagued connection between Columbia University's president, Lee Bollinger, and Olati Johnson, who was recently awarded a coveted faculty position at the university's law school. Johnson played a central role in the Memogate Senate scandal, including recommending that the judicial confirmation process be rigged to influence the outcome of the University of Michigan affirmative action cases, in which Bollinger was the principal defendant. I urged Bollinger and his university to fully address the issues I raised about a conflict of interest and a possible payoff for services rendered. Thus, I thank Dean David Schizer and Professor Avery Katz of Columbia Law School for their timely responses. However, I beg to differ with a number of their points.

Professor Katz says that he and his colleagues on the law school faculty "did not consult [Bollinger] or consider his possible views regarding Olati's candidacy," despite reviewing and discussing the allegations against Ms. Johnson. Even if true, this is of limited relevance. The point of my op-ed was that Bollinger's position as university president and a member of the law school faculty produced an inherent conflict of interest and "the appearance of impropriety to anyone doing even a cursory Google search on Ms. Johnson's name." If the rest of the law school faculty chose, nonetheless, not to discuss these issues with Bollinger, and believed their judgments about Johnson would not be affected by Bollinger's position, then my allegation of "poor judgment" should be focused on the law school faculty. Moreover, as my op-ed notes, the faculty should have thought about the message it was sending to Columbia's law students concerning ethics and conflicts of interest.

I also note that Johnson's tenure as Kellis Parker Fellow at Columbia Law School for the last two years gave Mr. Bollinger plenty of time to anticipate a conflict of interest and appearance of impropriety, even if no one specifically brought it to his attention.

Both Katz and Schizer state that some of the facts asserted in my op-ed are in dispute and cast further doubt upon those facts by noting the "intensely partisan atmosphere" that surrounded Memogate. But the key facts are plainly detailed in the memo which Johnson herself wrote, which can be viewed here. Despite having bar complaints filed against them, neither Johnson nor Elaine Jones – co-collaborator in the Michigan cases scheme – have ever denied the authenticity of the memo or their connection to it. Thus, I am genuinely puzzled as to what facts Professors Katz and Schizer believe are in dispute.

Katz also states that "We did not feel we had any reliable basis to conclude that the [ethics] allegations were accurate." However, I remind him that, as my op-ed notes

"[Ms. Johnson] recognized the ethics problem, noting that she and another Kennedy staffer 'are a little concerned about the propriety of scheduling hearings based on the resolution of a particular case.' Nonetheless, Ms. Johnson recommended a delay because 'the Michigan case is important.'"

Finally, Professor Katz misses another central point when he states that "Even if the allegations were assumed arguendo to be accurate, . . . they would at most constitute an error in judgment that ought not disqualify someone from pursuing a career in teaching." I agree that Johnson should not be disqualified from teaching. In fact, my op-ed specifically said "I don't believe that Olati Johnson should be punished for what she did," but added "I would hate to think that she is being rewarded for it." The key point is this:
"Had she gotten a position at virtually any other law school, the assumption would be that the school had impartially concluded that Ms. Johnson's talents outweighed the ethical implications of her involvement in Memogate. Unfortunately, because of the positions held by Lee Bollinger, Columbia could not make such a judgment impartially even if it tried."

Space does not permit me to comment on other responses to my op-ed, except to note that they have included both approval – for example, here – and criticism similar to that of Professors Katz and Schizer – for example, here – as well as additional thoughts about Memogate here and here. I appreciate the negative as well as positive comments and remain fully open to the possibility, noted in my op-ed, that Columbia "is guilty of poor judgment rather than anything more malfeasant."

March 28, 2006

Outrageous Escapades of the Far Left

The ACLU is groaning about a new decision from the Kansas Board of Education to let parents sign a form to "opt-in" their kids for sex education rather than "opt out." The ACLU laments that "The Kansas State Board of Education has essentially taken away the responsibility of the school district to inform parents of its plans to teach sex education and placed that burden on its young people." Since when is sex education the responsibility of the state's public schools? And it's a bad thing to put that responsibility in the hands of the parents just to let them sign off and know what the school is teaching in the curriculum? It's funny how the ACLU criticizes our government's secrecy in fighting the war on terror and threats to our security, but it has no problem defending school districts that fight against accountability and transparency. is urging its members to sign an online petition supporting Feingold's censure motion against President Bush and have it sent to their senator ( They enthusiastically claim that they have almost reached their goal of 500,000 signatures, but they fail to mention that their original goal of 1 million signatures had to trimmed down by 50% when it became clear that they couldn't garner that kind of support. When you already have 400,000 signatures and you have to drop your goal all the way down to 500,000, I guess that doesn't look too bad.

liberal judges in Ohio put women,children at risk to advance gay marriage

An Ohio appeals court ruled on friday that the state's domestic violence law couldn't be enforced against a woman accused of beating her boyfriend because Ohio voters had denied marriage status to "non-marrieds" (a not-so-veiled criticism of the Marriage amendment passed by Ohio voters in 2004). This outrageous ruling puts many women and children in abusive relationships at risk, and all just so the judges can try to make some illogical point about marriage inequality and trumpet their views on gay marriage. The Family Research Council has the rest of this disturbing story at Judicial activism isn't just a staple of our federal courts anymore...

March 16, 2006

CFJ's Sean Rushton Quoted In Novak Column

In an article published today in newspapers around the country Robert Novak discusses the eleven court nominees still languishing in the limbo of the Senate Judiacary Committee process. The Democrats obstruction of qualified nominees has backfired on them in the past and it will in the future - as long as the GOP makes judicial confirmations an issue in the 2006 campaigns, as Sean Rushton's quoted e-mail explains:

"Sean Rushton of the Committee for Justice this week e-mailed his conservative network that the 'push for appellate confirmations is on.'...Asking whether Republicans will raise the issue to 'excite conservatives, highlight liberal extremism and force Democrats into compromising choices,' Rushton said, 'November's election may rest on the decision.'"

March 09, 2006

Did Kim Gandy Just Call an Unborn Baby "A Child"?

CNN is reporting that an organization calling itself the National Center for Men will file a lawsuit today in the U.S. District Court in Michigan claiming that the lack of reproductive rights men have under the current state of the law is a violation of the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

The lawsuit, which apparently has been given the nickname, "Roe v. Wade for Men," concerns a 25-year-old computer programmer who no longer wants to pay child support for his ex-girlfriend's daughter.

Now, on it's face, this lawsuit seems at least a little silly. Basically, it sounds like guys trying to evade the consequences of fathering children that they are 50% responsible for conceiving. However, if one uses the the odd "logic" of Roe, in which a fetus is neither a child nor a responsibility, but rather the subject of a constitutionally protected choice of the mother, one can begin to see how this lawsuit has some merit under the current law.

What's interesting is the seemingly uneasy reaction to this case by NOW president Kim Gandy, who is quoted at the end of the article:

Kim Gandy acknowledged that disputes over unintended pregnancies can be complex and bitter. "None of these are easy questions," said Gandy, a former prosecutor. "But most courts say it's not about what he did or didn't do or what she did or didn't do. It's about the rights of the child."

Whoa! Did Gandy just call the result of an unintended pregnancy a child? I thought it was just a choice! Have NOW's members heard about this?