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Thursday, June 06, 2024

Editorial Choice Is Not Censorship

I have only a little to add to Paul's excellent post on the Columbia Law Review situation. It seems certain that Rabea Eghbariah's article "Toward Nakba as a Legal Concept" will be published one way or another, so it makes little sense to shut down the website, which will only draw more attention to the piece (which is not itself a bad thing). 

On the other hand, the apparently secretive process for soliciting and editing the article was wrong and manipulative in the first instance. It is a clear example of the politicization of scholarship, which should not be used to circumvent previously agreed upon editorial processes. The justification for it, which has been repeated by Prof. Katherine Franke, is nonsense. Here is the description from the New York Times:

The editors on the Review did use a “somewhat irregular process” in editing the piece, “Toward Nakba as a Legal Concept,” because they were concerned about censorship, Professor Franke said. Students involved in the editing said that among the roughly 100 people involved with the journal, they had created a smaller committee to solicit and select the piece, a procedure the Review does not always use.

Editorial choice is not censorship. It just isn't, which law students and professors should all understand. If the regular editorial process would have nixed the article, well, that's how journals work. 

This is not an argument against publishing the Eghbariah article. It is not an argument in favor of intervention by the faculty and alumni board. It is only an argument against making unsupported and overstated claims, especially by those who should know better.

Posted by Steve Lubet on June 6, 2024 at 06:23 AM | Permalink


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