(5/25, 4:30 p.m. update: Thanks to law professor Glenn Reynolds for promoting this post yesterday with a tweet and, this morning, with a link, bringing thousands of additional readers to this blog just in the last 24 hours. Thanks also for the mention on LewRockwell.com, with this clever summary of the Professor Tribe’s student ghostwriting operation: “It Takes a Tribe.” (end update)
If you pay attention only to liberal-slanted mass media outlets, you’d assume the answer is easy.
Surely Professor Laurence H. Tribe of the prestigious Harvard Law School must be a much more careful scholar than Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke, who has recently been branded, in what we view as a political hit job, as a “plagiarist” — not just by CNN (which made the initial charge), but also by the Washington Post, USA Today, NY Daily News, ABC, and Slate, among other mass-media outlets.
But he’s not. Sheriff Clarke, a part-time scholar, is vastly more careful (not to mention honest) than Professor Tribe. In this post we boil down the factual comparison, concisely, in one place.
As we detailed in yesterday’s post (many thanks to law professor Glenn Reynolds (“Instapundit”) for this morning’s post promoting both it and John Hinderaker‘s commentary on our earlier post), well-documented charges of scholarly misconduct have been leveled against Tribe in connection with six of his published works (five books and one essay), published over a period of more than two decades.
(1) The 1978 1st edition of Tribe’s treatise plagiarized from the 1976 Harvard Law Review.
(2) Tribe’s 1985 God Save book plagiarized from historian Henry Abraham; further, Tribe apparently used a first-year law student as a ghostwriter on the book.
On (3) Tribe’s 1985 Constitutional Choices book, and also on (4) the 1988 2nd edition of Tribe’s treatise, Tribe used at least one ghostwriter, who later listed on her resume her work drafting sections of both books. (Of course, Tribe’s use of ghostwriters on his treatise is confirmed by Dean Velvel’s 2006 statement, libelous if untrue, and never contested by Tribe, that several students “had written large tracts of Tribe’s treatise”).
(5) The 2000 3rd edition of Tribe’s treatise, in a section advancing a supposedly novel view of the Seventh Amendment, reprinted verbatim hundreds of words of analysis from a 1996 U.S. Supreme Court amicus brief signed by eleven lawyers and law professors (but not Tribe), without citing the brief even once.
(6) In 2003 Tribe published a demonstrably false account of his first U.S. Supreme Court case, in which he stole credit from other lawyers for a novel Ninth Amendment argument which he claimed he’d championed, but which they in fact argued much more extensively than did he.
When Tribe was appointed to a high-level post in the Obama Administration in 2010, the mainstream media mentioned none of this. Yet now numerous mainstream media outlets seek to derail the appointment of a black conservative, Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr., on the basis of one piece of work (not six), Clarke’s master’s thesis.
Do they claim that Clarke (like Tribe) lifted passages from multiple published works, without giving any credit to the authors who wrote the passages? No. Do they claim that Clarke (like Tribe) employed ghostwriters? No. Do they claim that Clarke (like Tribe) made up stuff to make himself look better? No.
They complain only about one publication — Clarke’s lengthy, heavily researched, master’s thesis. And here their only complaint is that, although Clarke cited each and every source relied on (unlike Tribe), and thus there was no attempt to deceive the reader and take credit for the work of others (unlike Tribe), Clarke should have included more quotation marks.
Sure, Sheriff Clarke made some technical mistakes in formatting his master’s thesis — exactly the kind of formatting mistakes it’s not surprising might be made by someone who’s a full-time law enforcement official and not a Harvard Law School professor, who nonetheless researched and wrote a scholarly paper himself rather than relying on a ghostwriter who would be more familiar with proper formatting.
Unless and until the liberal media give the scholarly practices of liberal scholar Laurence Tribe at least the same scrutiny they’ve given the scholarly practices of non-scholar Sheriff David Clarke, the bottom line will remain clear: liberal media outlets are judging Sheriff Clarke by standards they would never apply to a liberal, because Sheriff Clarke is a black conservative who refuses to remain on the plantation.
Professor Tribe has been caught engaging in major scholarly misconduct with respect to at least six publications. Yet the liberal media fixate on one comparatively minor defect in the formatting of Sheriff Clarke’s master’s thesis. By excoriating Sheriff Clarke based on standards they have not, and presumably never will, apply to Professor Tribe, they hope to further interrupt the ability of the President Trump and Secretary Kelly to run the Department of Homeland Security as they deem appropriate. Political. Hit. Job.