John Yoo and 4 others named endowed law faculty chairs

John-yoo

Related Posts

Five UC Berkeley law faculty members, including John Yoo, were announced as UC Berkeley School of Law endowed faculty chairs last week.

In addition to Yoo — who generated controversy after co-authoring legal documents dubbed the “Torture Memos” — Christopher Kutz, Calvin Morrill, Anne O’Connell and Paul Schwartz were recognized in a ceremony last month for their “contributions to legal education and scholarship,” according to a statement from Susan Gluss, a spokesperson for the law school.

Endowed faculty chairs are awarded to professors and deans who are considered distinguished scholars and educators.

“It’s a great honor to hold the oldest chair at the law school,” Yoo, who received the first chair established at Berkeley Law, said in an email.

Yoo has been a campus professor since 1993 and worked as deputy assistant attorney general in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel during the administration of former president George W. Bush.

In a speech at the ceremony, Yoo praised a previous holder of the chair, Paul Mishkin, for “recognizing that courts had to respond to society’s broader political demands.”

In December of 2008, Berkeley City Council voted 7-2 to urge the University of California to terminate his tenured faculty status if he were prosecuted and convicted of human rights violations.

UC Berkeley students have demanded his removal as professor on many occasions since his return to campus in 2009, including at protests at the 2012 Berkeley Law commencement ceremony.

Brad DeLong, a campus economics professor, criticized Yoo for writing in a paper that former president Bill Clinton had exceeded the bounds of his executive powers and then later writing in a 2003 memo that the treatment of enemy combatants was under Bush’s discretion.

“Professors are responsible, as Ernst Kantorowicz said, to their conscience and their God to say what they have come to believe after long and hard study,” DeLong said in an email. “But they are really not supposed to say whatever is politically convenient at that moment.”

Yoo advised those who think his writings are inconsistent to examine the actual papers when making such a determination.

Curt Wechsler, who edits a website to encourage Yoo’s employment termination, called his latest honor an “outrage.”

“The fact that Berkeley continues to provide a soapbox for him is really unacceptable,” Wechsler said.

Yoo said he intends to follow in the footsteps of the chair’s previous holders by maintaining a high level of research and scholarship.

Contact Anna Li at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @annajxli.

Please keep our community civil. Comments should remain on topic and be respectful.
Read our full comment policy
  • Sasha S.

    As an alum, I am outraged by John Yoo’s receiving the endowed chair at Berkeley. This is clearly the result of the short-sighted hiring of Janet Napolitano as the president of University of California. Berkeley once stood for justice, human rights, and against torture. Not anymore. I will no longer support Berkeley.

  • Marc Lawrence

    John Yoo created a legal rationale for the use of torture. He should be condemned, not honored.

  • marklevine

    I am a professor at UCI who specializes in the Middle East and North Africa. Let me state, for the record, that I find this absolutely shameful. John Yoo is a disgrace as a law professor. His actions are a clear violation of professional ethics and are no better than a psychologist or a doctor who helps facilitate torture. In fact, they are worse, because he was part of the highest levels of government who used cheap and even spurious reasoning to create a new interpretation of American law that enabling the systematic violation of human rights of people without any due process. He was part of a machine of violence and death that has produced the nightmarish situation we still see today in Iraq and eroded the rule of law in the US to the point where even a Constitutional Law professor-turned-President sanctions the extrajudicial murder of American citizens as well as unprecedented violations of rights to privacy. Yoo’s tenure should be revoked and he should be prosecuted for aiding and abetting the commission of war crimes. I have no idea who approved this chair, but such a decision is a stain on the reputation and integrity of Boalt Hall and UC more broadly. One can only hope that his colleagues at the Law School will not stand for this and refuse to work or cooperate with him in any manner and demand the Dean of the Law School rescind this honor.

    • Hissyspit

      You find this absolutely shameful because it is.

    • Curtis Simpson

      Who approved his chair must have had something to do with recently appointed president of the University of California, Janet Napolitano. After her stint with homeland security, she was compromised and now is part of the neo-con right.

  • Mel Content

    “Torture Memos”= another example of how lefties distort the English language to push their fruitcake agenda.

    • strangely_enough

      Torture is pretty straightforward as English goes. “Enhanced Interrogation Techniques,” on the other hand, is some fairly “tortured” English.

      • Mel Content

        Enhanced Interrogation Techniques: I’m all for them if the application to some filthy terrorist means saving innocent lives. Unlike you navel-gazing pontificators working from some Utopian baseline and far, far removed from the real world, I have no regard for the feelings or sensitivities of people who use genocide and terror to advance their death cult of a religion. They don’t recognize the Geneva Conventions and Accords in their application to rules of armed warfare or treatments of prisoners, so we’re certainly not obligated to give them such treatment in return. People who conducted the type of behavior of those incarcerated in Gitmo were summarily executed – and rightfully so – in previous wars. Only idiot liberals whose hatred of their own country exceeds any concern for the genuinely innocent whine and cry over the plight of those in Gitmo, who are treated far, far better than they treat their own prisoners in their own insane war against western civilization…

        • KarenSez

          “I’m all for [torture] if the application to some filthy terrorist means saving innocent lives.”

          Just because that doesn’t happen except on trash TV melodramas is apparently irrelevant.

        • Joe Helfrich

          Leaving aside the issues of 1) torture not being an effective interrogation technique, 2) basic human rights, and 3) just being better people than our enemies…what happens when the people in charge of such things decide that you happen to be a filthy terrorist because of one of your views? Do you support using “enhanced interrogation techniques” then?

        • A Real Libertarian

          Unlike you navel-gazing pontificators working from some Utopian baseline and far, far removed from the real world, I have no regard for the feelings or sensitivities of people who use genocide and terror to advance their death cult of a religion. They don’t recognize the Geneva Conventions and Accords in their application to rules of armed warfare or treatments of prisoners, so we’re certainly not obligated to give them such treatment in return.

          So you’ve explained why you support Al-Qaeda waging war on the crusaders, but don’t you think the Americans think the same way against you?

          • KarenSez

            “They don’t recognize the Geneva Conventions and Accords … so
            we’re certainly not obligated to give them such treatment in return.” Yeah, right, they get to set the moral terms that we will follow. Sheesh. What a fool. You really are a “real libertarian,” as big a hack as the pathetic Ayn Rand.

      • GS Talbert

        This… my sides :D

    • KarenSez

      What part of torture don’t you understand, clown?

      • slouching

        Don’t feed the trolls. They want to derail the conversation. Don’t let them.

    • Marc Lawrence

      I’d say you’re the one with a “fruitcake agenda,” bub.

    • Hissyspit

      War crime apologist.

  • Paul Anderson