As the Supreme Court struggles, once again, with diversity and affirmative action issues in the undergraduate admissions context in Fisher II (click here for the ScotusBlog summary), James Phillips (JD/PhD. cand. -- UC Berkeley) boldly and carefully assesses questions concerning ideological diversity in legal academia. Exploiting data on faculties at the 16 highest-ranked law schools, in Why are There so Few Conservatives and Libertarians in Legal Academia? An Empirical Exploration of Three Hypotheses Phillips engages with three standard explanations for the relative dearth of conservative law professors. The paper's abstract follows.
"There are few conservatives and libertarians in legal academia. Why? Three explanations are usually provided: the Brainpower, Interest, and Greed Hypotheses. Alternatively, it could be because of Discrimination. This paper explores these possibilities by looking at citation and publication rates by law professors at the 16 highest-ranked law schools in the country. Using regression analysis, propensity score matching, propensity score reweighting, nearest neighbor matching, and coarsened exact matching, this paper finds that after taking into account traditional correlates of scholarly ability, conservative and libertarian law professors are cited more and publish more than their peers. The paper also finds that they tend to have more of the traditional qualifications required of law professors than their peers, with a few exceptions. This paper indicates that, at least in the schools sampled, conservative and libertarian law professors are not few in number because of a lack of scholarly ability or professional qualifications. Further, the patterns do not prove, but are consistent with, a story of discrimination. The downsides to having so few conservatives and libertarians in the legal academy are also briefly explored."