The Legal Beat
Amy Wax Moves To Dismiss Disciplinary Action, Still Raising Legal Defense Funds That She Claims Are Tax-Deductible
Posted on Tuesday September 20, 2022
Amy Wax has hired David Shapiro of the Shapiro Litigation Group to represent her in the ongoing disciplinary proceedings at Penn Law. Presumably he’s getting paid — though even a pro bono representation would rack up some costs — and for that, Wax continues to raise money through the Amy Wax Defense Fund and she continues to assert that individuals giving her money for her personal legal costs can deduct those contributions as charitable gifts.
I originally raised some suspicions about that claim and ran it by ATL’s resident tax expert Steven Chung who shared those doubts and noted that the organization was not on the list of approved 501(c)(3) entities at the time. Nevertheless, her fundraising website continues to read “Contributions to the Amy Wax Legal Defense Fund are tax deductible under the Section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code.” In an interview, Wax claimed this organization was set up in DC. ATL reached out to the charities group of the DC AG’s office to ask about this and received no response.
In any event… we wish everyone luck on getting paid!
In the meantime, Shapiro’s office filed a 59-page brief on behalf of Wax seeking the dismissal of the years-overdue disciplinary procedure. The filing kicks off seeking the indefinite postponement of any proceedings in light of Wax’s cancer treatments. She also claims that the school has refused to afford her reasonable accommodations for her medical condition in the past, dating back to at least May when the school held a pre-hearing on these matters. According to the brief, Wax is “unable to meet deadlines, participate in proceedings, or respond adequately to charges against her.”
Interestingly, Wax is not unable to participate in 90-minute podcasts to ruminate on how immigrants are destroying the country or 74 minutes of a webcast complaining that her hijinks — from saying America would be better off with fewer Asians to issuing claims she now admits she doesn’t have evidence to back up about Black Penn grads to inviting white supremacists to campus — about academic freedom.
Indeed, she seems to have plenty of time for everything except the consequences of her own actions.
The school even offered her medical leave, which Wax has refused.
Given her unique role at Penn, and the pleas of her students and supporters worldwide, Professor Wax has promised that she will not surrender to the speech police or abandon the people on campus who rely on her presence and advice. Prof. Wax views those promises as a sacred obligation which she is duty-bound to fulfill. It is essential to her mental and physical well-being that she continue to advise students in fulfillment of her pledges as well as teach her classes.
This places Shapiro in the unenviable position of demanding that the Faculty Senate respect the advice of doctors that Wax not be forced to do anything while undergoing treatment with Wax’s refusal to respect that advice in any capacity except the one that inconveniences her.
The rest of the brief engages in the sort of factual dance that the hearing itself is designed to address. For example, Shapiro argues that when Wax said, “our country would be better off with more whites and fewer nonwhites,” it was taken totally out of context! See, when she went to that white nationalist convention, she was just saying that conservatives shouldn’t be afraid to advocate policies that people might construe as thinking “our country would be better off with more whites and fewer nonwhites.” As Shapiro notes, “In no way could Prof. Wax’s remarks be reasonably construed as endorsing so-called “white supremacy.'”
Reminder that in 2017 when asked about white supremacy, Wax said, “I don’t shrink from the word, ‘superior.’” I guess she does when there are proceedings pending.
Regarding the campus invitation issue:
In faulting Prof. Wax’s decision to invited Jared Taylor to speak to her seminar on Conservative Political and Legal Thought, for example, which is discussed in additional detail below in Section V.D., the Charges refer to a supposed “line” that has been “crossed.” A “line” is not a rule, regulation, statute, or guideline that puts a tenured professor on notice as to whom she can or cannot invite. It is, instead, a meaningless, vacuous, and conclusory cliché.
In fairness, this is on the school for not including “please don’t invite white supremacists to our campus” explicitly in the handbook. How could someone think vague statements about providing a safe and respectful environment would include “guys who think Black people are threats to civilization“? Amy’s gotta plead ignorance on this one.
The arguments in this filing are comically disingenuous. Why, if it weren’t acceptable to physically bring a Neo-Nazi to class, how could anyone teach World War II history? No one is saying it’s wrong to assign fascist readings in a course on conservative legal theory, much less that a professor can’t teach conservative legal thought. Just don’t bring folks flagged by the SPLC on campus and pretend that’s acceptable.
Dean Ruger should be disqualified as the Charging Party because he has demonstrated extreme bias and animus against Professor Wax. This bias fatally taints his allegations against her and requires his removal. A new Charging Party must be assigned before the process can continue.
To this claim, I formally invite the Faculty Senate to review the litany of my coverage of Amy Wax over the years. Most of it is deeply critical of Dean Ruger for offering Wax extraordinary leeway for far longer than she deserved. Far from bias or animus, Dean Ruger built an extensive record of giving Wax the benefit of the doubt at every turn.
One of the moments where Dean Ruger navigated a more cautious path than deserved was Wax’s declaration that Black students don’t graduate in the top half of Penn Law, something that’s both demonstrably untrue and an allegation that Wax did not and could not have any evidence to back up. This is the most damning allegation of the bunch because a law professor impugned graduates strictly along racial lines knowing that she had zero support for that claim.
Seemingly aware of this, Wax’s filing makes the wild request that the school conduct an independent forensic investigation “To Study Student Performance At The Law School By Race.” This is all a set up for conservatives to cry foul “2020 ballot box style” when the school refuses to indulge this nonsense.
And it’s nonsense because it’s entirely irrelevant. The school doesn’t have to engage in this costly investigation because it doesn’t even matter if it were true — which it’s not — because the sanctionable offense is publicly defaming Black graduates without a scintilla of evidence. Because this woman is a bigot, sure, but she’s also a bigot who lacks the academic rigor to put together a proper data set like Richard Sander of UCLA did (which has since been widely discredited). So she argues with all the evidentiary backing of a Wikipedia entry. She wants an investigation that the school doesn’t have to conduct and that she’d just denounce as “fake news” when it debunked her. Wax wrapped herself in academic freedom to make declarations she didn’t even bother to research.
That’s the academic freedom on trial here. Not “academic freedom” for a scholar to pursue unorthodox academic work, but freedom from consequences for any action by virtue of the title of “academic.” That’s not how academic freedom works any more than flaming poodles are “hot dogs.”
Earlier: Amy Wax Is Back And Ready To Blame Women For Ruining Universities
Amy Wax Says Her Legal Defense Fund Is A 501(c)(3) Charity And That Seems… Odd
There Are No Tax Benefits To Donating To Professor Amy Wax’s Legal Defense Fund Especially When The Website Looks Like A Phishing Scam
Joe Patrice is a senior editor at Above the Law and co-host of Thinking Like A Lawyer. Feel free to email any tips, questions, or comments. Follow him on Twitter if you’re interested in law, politics, and a healthy dose of college sports news. Joe also serves as a Managing Director at RPN Executive Search.