This is slightly off the legal beat. But these days, everyone is talking about the Reverend Jeremiah Wright — including lots of law professors (like Ann Althouse and Glenn Reynolds). And we also know how much you enjoy controversy over commencement speakers, especially at Northwestern University (where Jerry Springer is speaking at the law school’s commencement this year).
So, with those connections in mind, here’s some interesting news from late last week:
In a highly unusual move in the academic world, Northwestern University in suburban Chicago has publicly disinvited the controversial Rev. Jeremiah Wright from its June commencement ceremonies, where he was to receive an honorary degree.
It’s another indication of the rolling repercussions of the retiring African American pastor’s inflammatory comments on America, 9/11, race relations, the AIDs epidemic and Illinois’ junior senator, Barack Obama.
From Northwestern’s statement:
Dr. Wright was quoted as saying that his invitation to receive an honorary degree was withdrawn by Northwestern President Henry Bienen because Dr. Wright “wasn’t patriotic enough.” If Dr. Wright was quoted accurately, that statement is not true. In his conversation and correspondence with Dr. Wright in March, President Bienen never characterized Dr. Wright’s views or made a judgment about them. The letter said, “In light of the controversy surrounding statements made by you that have recently been publicized, the celebratory character of Northwestern’s commencement would be affected by our conferring of this honorary degree. Thus I am withdrawing the offer of an honorary degree previously extended to you.”
So, readers, any thoughts — on Northwestern’s withdrawn invitation, or on Reverend Wright more generally? Might he have a cause of action against Northwestern arising out of his “dis-invitation”?
(No, we don’t seriously think that. But we’re trying to give this post some connection to the law, however tenuous. And we figured that those of you who are studying for final exams might appreciate the challenge of trying to come up with a legal theory for such a lawsuit. Go ahead — spot those issues!)
Collected Jeremiah Wright coverage [Althouse]
Statement Regarding the Rev. Dr. Wright [Northwestern University]
Jeremiah Wright axed from honorary degree by Northwestern U. [Top of the Ticket / Los Angeles Times]
Clyburn Blasts Wright for ‘Knee-Capping’ Obama [The Trail / Washington Post]