Packing the UVa Law School Faculty

Risa Goluboff, dean of the University of Virginia Law School

by Ann McLean

Earlier this week UVA Today touted the addition of 17 high-profile professors — packed with former U.S. Supreme Court clerks, Rhodes Scholars, and even a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship genius grant recipient — to the University of Virginia Law School.

“Our new and incoming faculty are either already academic superstars or superstars in the making,” said Dean Risa Goluboff. They are “highly influential voices in their fields whose scholarship will have an impact at UVA Law, both inside and outside of the classroom, and well beyond it.”

The law school’s run of prestigious hires, who include nine women and seven “people of color,” have sparked envious praise on Twitter, gushes the article, written by Eric Williamson, associate director of communications for the law school. “I feel like they must be amassing this incredibly all star faculty for a reason,” one woman is quoted as tweeting. “A new Marvel series? Avengers: Endgame 2?”

The article omitted one salient fact of interest to the broader UVa community — there is no intellectual diversity in the group. Every new hire tilts to the left ideologically. There’s not a conservative among them.

Goluboff, who has written extensively about the injustice of vagrancy laws, is remaking the faculty in her own image. When older professors reflecting a range of legal perspectives retire, Gobuloff brings in like-minded leftists. In the process she is creating an intellectual monoculture that makes a mockery of the university’s commitment to free inquiry.

Here are thumbnails of the seventeen.

  • Payvand Ahdout studied at Columbia Law School, clerked for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and spent time at the Department of Justice. She concentrates on “habeas cases.” Her work contrasts with the judicial philosophy of “faithfully deferring to the states.”
  • Rachel Bayefsky clerked for Ruth Bader Ginsburg, studied at Yale Law School, taught at Harvard — she and Goluboff both at one time portrayed Ginsburg in a skit — and worked at the Washington, D.C., law firm Aiken Gump. Questioning established legal philosophy, she concentrates on Native American tribes.
  • Jay Butler, who studied at Yale Law School, specializes in international law and corporate social responsibility. He believes in “Amnesty for even the worst offenders.” As Risa Goluboff says of him, he sees the influence of corporations in the multinational environment in “fresh and exciting” ways.
  • Naomi Cahn, who attended Princeton University and Columbia Law School, specializes in family law, trusts and estates, feminist jurisprudence. She has an eye to “evolving understanding of gender identity, sexual orientation, and reproductive technologies.” Her scholarship “explores the cutting edge of family law,” inspiring Goluboff to comment, “Wow.”
  • Danielle Citron, helped Vice President Kamala Harris shape public discussions and make an impact on larger society, concentrating on digital privacy, civil liberties and civil rights, in order to keep a woman’s sex life private, and photos of that life, private. Building a practice in privacy rights, she wrote about “The End of Privacy.” She advised Harris in the state of California for two years.
  • Kristen Eichensehr graduated from Harvard undergrad and Yale Law School. She has worked in the Obama Administration, the State Department, and the law firm Covington & Burling in Washington, D.C. She clerked for Judge Merrick Garland. Her work is on global cybersecurity, foreign relations, and separation of powers. She is married to Richard Re, also hired to the UVa law school faculty.
  • Thomas Frampton, a graduate of Berkeley, with degrees from Harvard and Yale, concentrates on the unfairness of jury selection, with an eye toward “Jim Crow” criminal law and constitutional criminal procedure.
  • Mitu Gulati, collaborates with Columbia University and the University of California-Berkeley on environmental conservation “unfairness,” sovereign debt, and contract law. A graduate of Duke University Law, he aims to have “real-world impact” by helping financially distressed nations restructure international debt.
  • Cathy Hwang, a Stanford Law School graduate, thinks of herself as “a bridge between traditional contract theory and what is happening in the real world.” A mergers-and-acquisitions expert in corporate contracts and deals, she focuses on business law and on what makes deals happen between large corporations. She is “excited to know ‘what is in the water?” at Risa Goluboff’s University of Virginia School of Law as she comes on board the teaching faculty.
  • Craig Konnoth, a graduate of Yale Law School, focused on unifying LGBT law students from across the county as a senior policy maker at Colorado’s Health Data and Technology Initiative’s “Silicon Flatirons Center.” Konnoth works in health care law, law and sexuality. In his jurisprudence, he “goes against traditional medical logic” and believes that this logic was designed “to oppress and discipline minorities.”
  • Kimberly Krawiec, focuses on non-traditional “taboo markets.” She has written on “Reverse Transplant Tourism” and the selling of body parts. “Acceptance is coming, but it is slow,” she says in her piece, “Taboo Trades.” Interests range from marijuana legalization to “blood and other ‘repugnant transactions.’” She has written articles on “repugnance management.”
  • David Law, a graduate of Harvard Law School, has done consulting work for the United Nations. He focuses on courts, constitutions, comparative law. Goluboff heralds him as amazing, as he writes extensively on “The Declining Influence of the United States Constitution.”
  • Joy Milligan, a former Berkeley Law Professor, specializes in race-based economic inequality, civil rights, civil procedure. “There is amazing potential,” she writes to address inequality through the law school curriculum. She clerked for the ACLU’s Immigrant Rights Project and clerked on the U.S. Court of Appeals 9th District. She has argued that government housing projects from 1954 until 1964 were insufficient and misguided. She credits Goluboff with being “fundamental in shaping my understanding of civil rights history.”
  • Richard Re, a graduate of Yale Law School, studied social studies at Harvard University and clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court. He focuses on criminal procedure, federal courts, constitutional law and “Developing Artificially Intelligent Justice.” He is married to Kristin Eichensehr, also coming onto the faculty.
  • Bertrall Ross earned his JD from Yale Law School and his M.P.A. from Princeton. He chaired the “diversity and democracy cluster,” which has hosted “high-profile discussions on … reparations and election integrity and fairness.” He discusses the “vicious cycle of marginalization” in the U.S. and writes about voter suppression. “Mobilization of the poor would not only increase the proportion of the poor in the electorate, but more importantly, would change how representatives perceive the electorate and its demands for redistribution,” he writes. Goluboff is a fan of Ross’s  scholarship and assigns his book, “Measuring Political Power” to her classes.
  • Lawrence Solum, former editor of the Harvard Law Review, is a constitutional theorist, with an emphasis on procedure and philosophy of law. Described as an originalist who “is not a conservative,” he has argued that that originalism “sometimes leads to liberal and progressive outcomes.” He is described as “cutting edge” or ahead of his time because some of his research is in giving legal personhood to Artificial Intelligence.
  • Megan Stevenson, a fellow for the Fair Administration of Justice at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, comes to UVa from the teaching faculty of George Mason University, where she teaches about the “unfairness” of setting bail for criminals. Goluboff says she is doing “exciting work in criminal justice — using the latest empirical methods informed by her expertise as an economist.” She has co-authored “Bail, Jail and Pretrial Misconduct: The Influence of Prosecutors.”

These new law professors specialize in different areas of law, but they have one thing in common: a readiness to use lawfare to bring about fundamental change to society. Pity the poor law school student who enters the law school based upon its past reputation for excellence only to find stultifying intellectual conformity.

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