The Volokh Conspiracy

Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent


"Given that you are a Jewish student and very active in the Jewish community, how do you see yourself being able to maintain an unbiased view …?"


That was the question asked by a UCLA student council member of a candidate for the council's Judicial Board—and it wasn't the only such question. Adam Nagourney (New York Times) has the story, in considerable detail and with helpful links. An excerpt:

For the next 40 minutes, after [the candidate, Rachel Beyda,] was dispatched from the room, the council tangled in a debate about whether her faith and affiliation with Jewish organizations, including her sorority and Hillel, a popular student group, meant she would be biased in dealing with sensitive governance questions that come before the board, which is the campus equivalent of the Supreme Court….

"It's egregious and startling," [Trinity College researcher Barry A. Kosmin] said. "If they had used this with any other group—sexual, racial, any kind of identity group—they would have realized it was illegal."

The good news is that the initial rejection of the candidate was quickly reversed; the questioners, and those who voted against the candidate, publicly apologized; other council members spoke against this; so did the Chancellor of UCLA; so did the student newspaper. But it's still shocking to hear of this happening, not just clandestinely but brazenly, with no sense (at least at first) that there's anything wrong here.

Thanks to Louis Offen for first pointing this out to me.