In America today no good deed goes unpunished nor bad deed unrewarded. One of the co-authors of the notorious “Torture Memos”, John Yoo, has been awarded an endowed faculty chair at University of California Berkeley School of Law. Apparently undermining the US Constitution and the rule of law by justifying torture was such an achievement that Yoo warranted special recognition.
During the George W. Bush Administration John Yoo served as Deputy Assistant U.S. Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) where he and other officials offered a legal rationale for “enhanced interrogation techniques” which included stress positions, sleep deprivation, and simulated drowning known as “waterboarding.”
Despite the near universal understanding among thinking people that these techniques, especially waterboarding, constituted torture, Yoo and company claimed they were legal under a novel interpretation of President Bush’s executive powers vis a vis the “War on Terror.” Under Yoo’s use of an extreme legal model, called the unitary executive theory, the president is above and outside the law and under certain conditions in control of the other two branches of government.
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.
Yoo has certainly made quite a contribution to legal scholarship. Under Yoo’s legal reasoning all other legal scholarship becomes irrelevant along with most of the legal system, the country is simply required to hold an election to make someone king – then all is permissible.
Clearly Professor Yoo has much to teach the next generation of lawyers.