Volokh Conspiracy's David Bernstein, a law professor at George Mason University, poses an interesting question: did the University of Chicago lower its standards when they offered him a spot on its law school faculty?
He would be given tenure upon his hiring-not a bad deal-and certainly almost unheard of in the world of academia. The unusual nature of this offer arises from the fact that Barack Obama had not one piece of legal writing associated with him - no signed papers, no legal opinions, no law review article, and no previous experience as a teacher. Nothing. Bernstein writes:
[G]iven Chicago's reputation as the most hardcore of legal academic institutions; and given that Chicago is one of the few law schools that is (admirably) known for having strict tenure standards, and actually has denied tenure to some rather impressive scholars; and given that I've heard Chicago professors say (as of the mid-90s, a bit before the relevant offer) that there was a firm consensus on the faculty that they would never hire anyone who didn't meet the highest scholarly standards, regardless of other considerations; and given that Obama had published no legal scholarship whatsoever at this point; this is a bit surprising.
So he gets a prestigious post with absolutely no experience that would qualify him for the position.
Will history repeats itself - as farce?