Randy Barnett on Joyce Foundation Funding

I mentioned this last week, when David Hardy picked up on Professor Saul Cornell’s contribution to a Fordham University Law Review symposium, funded (of course) by the Joyce Foundation. Well, Professor Barnett commented at the Volokh Conspiracy on the similar symposium published in the Chicago-Kent Law Review in 2000. One zinger of a quote from Prof. Barnett:

Is accepting honoraria from a foundation, like the Joyce Foundation, that will support only one side of an issue unethical? So long as one does not change one’s views to conform to the funding source’s preferences, I do not think so (though I do think one should disclose one’s funding sources to allow readers to evaluate for themselves whatever impact it may have on one’s analysis). I do not see why foundations who wish to advance a particular view cannot ethically support the research of those who otherwise agree with its agenda. Ultimately, the soundness of one’s scholarship should depend on the reasons and evidence one puts forth, not the source of any financial support one may have received. I think this is true even if the honoraria induced a scholar to write about an issue he or she would not otherwise have done, which I think probably applies to a number of contributors to the Second Amendment symposium. I feel the same way about campaign contributions. Contributing money to the campaign of politicians with whom one agrees does not corrupt the politician, unless he or she was already corrupt. Michael Bellesiles, who was paid to contribute to the Chicago-Kent symposium did not fabricate his evidence because the Joyce Foundation was paying him. He was a corrupt scholar before and after this payment was made.

So refreshing when someone is willing to call a spade a spade and not a “human operated soil relocation device.”

Read Prof. Barnett’s whole piece.

UPDATE, 4/14: Saul Cornell does it again, and Randy Barnett doesn’t let him get away with it. Here’s a key piece:

Saul asked in his reply: “Given that the gun lobby has plenty of money and places like CATO are strongly gun rights it seems a bit unfair to ask Joyce to fund your point of view.” I do not expect Joyce to fund any point of view with which they disagree. It is not Joyce we are talking about, it is Chicago-Kent and Ohio State. Nor, to reiterate, do I have any problem with an individual scholar like Saul who agrees with Joyce accepting funding to support his or her academic research, provided the funding is disclosed. But Ohio State, like Chicago-Kent, is an academic institution, unlike Cato, or the Federalist Society. (I raised the Federalist Society because, even though it is not an academic institution, its programs have more balance than did Chicago-Kent’s. (I did not compare the Fordham Law Review symposium to the Federalist Society—indeed, I did not mention that symposium at all in my post.)

Let me clarify this by posing the following question: Why did Joyce not organize its own conference, law review issue, or Second Amendment Research Center? The answer is plain: it wants its views to enjoy the academic respectability imparted upon it by the imprimatur of Chicago-Kent and Ohio State. It is that institutional imprimatur that enabled the Ninth Circuit to rely so heavily on articles published in the Chicago-Kent Law Review in his opinion in Silveira v. Lockyer. (BTW, the published opinion had to be modified later to remove its reliance on the discredited work of Michael Bellesiles.) This is what Joyce is buying from Chicago-Kent and Ohio State. This is what it is improper of these institutions to sell.

I’ve got a bit more to say here.

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