John Yoo and Tenure
I am not a first amendment lawyer nor am I well-qualified to write about academic freedom, but I have been intrigued by the discussion of whether John Yoo can or should be fired in connection with his authorship of the infamous torture memo.
The National Lawyer’s Guild, which opposed efforts to fire Ward Churchill at the University of Colorado, has called for Yoo to be fired. Obviously, the two situations are not identical. Churchill’s views were “merely” unpopular and the investigation into his background would never have taken place but for the outrageousness of his speech. By contrast, Yoo’s speech has led to tangible results, results that the NLG claims constitute war crimes.
Brian Leiter, who was a defender of Churchill’s right to speak his mind has come to Yoo’s defense while making his distaste for Yoo’s views clear. I think that I fall into the same camp. As a Boalt alum I am embarrassed to have my alma mater associated with Professor Yoo’s legal advice to the Bush administration. Yet I am proud of Dean Christopher Edley for coming to his colleague’s defense:
“My sense is that the vast majority of legal academics with a view of the matter disagree with substantial portions of Professor Yoo’s analyses, including a great many of his colleagues at Berkeley,” Edley wrote. “If, however, this strong consensus were enough to fire or sanction someone, then academic freedom would be meaningless,” he added.”
[Cross-Posted on MoneyLaw]