The Volokh Conspiracy
Mostly law professors | Sometimes contrarian | Often libertarian | Always independent
The U.C. Irvine Law Review has adopted a Diversity Statement in its latest issue. It provides:
The UC Irvine Law Review affirms the democratic and entrepreneurial spirit of its founders as it strives to balance tradition and innovation, "to consider—and reconsider—the standard assumptions about law review success." Recognizing the persistence of historical inequities in the legal profession, we are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion, both in membership and scholarship. Diversity in membership enriches our culture and fosters greater learning opportunities in legal education. Diversity in scholarship promotes historically underrepresented authors, ideas, and perspectives in the field of law. Mindful of these purposes, the UC Irvine Law Review remains dedicated to continual evaluation, reflection, and innovation in all its endeavors.
I am not aware of any other journal that has formally published such a statement. If you are aware of any, please email me. I am confident that many journals have articulated internal policies concerning diversity for membership. But what strikes me as novel here is the commitment for diversity in scholarship.
In theory, at least, this commitment will encourage editors to favor "historically underrepresented authors, ideas, and perspectives in the field of law" when selecting articles. But in practice, this statement will disfavor articles that do not fit within those categories. Authors, ideas, and perspectives that are not "historically underrepresented" will be presumptively disqualified from publication in the U.C. Irvine Law Review. Authors who submit may not know in advance how the editors will interpret those categories. But at a minimum, authors who challenge the views of those who are "historically underrepresented" will receive a cold reception.
I am not particularly troubled by a single journal adopting this statement. I doubt the U.C. Irvine Law Review would accept my scholarship under any circumstances, with or without the statement. But progressives schools in California are the canary in the progressive kale mine. (Progressives would "transition" away from coal mining.) Remember, the California Law Review was one of the first journals to require the race of the submitting author.
Soon enough, these sorts of statements will become de rigueur nationwide. And editors will be able to hold up this statement to spike an article that is not sufficiently woke. After all, what article editor would willingly fight for an article that is inconsistent with the diversity statement?
I see a future where conservative authors are persona non grata at law reviews. These sort of statements, combined with value-laden Bluebook rules, will make it impossible for right-of-center scholars to publish, get hired, and get tenured. These sorts of efforts are well-intentioned to promote inclusivity, but will invariably lead to another type of exclusivity.