The San Francisco Bay Area Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild has launched a petition at Change.org opposing UC Berkley’s decision to honor Torture Memo author and law professor John Yoo. Yoo was recently given the honor of an endowed faculty chair at UC Berkeley School of Law despite his involvement in undermining the rule of law by writing dubious memos that justified torturing those suspected of being involved in terrorism.
The petition notes that some of the authors are Berkeley School of Law alumni and that all are “outraged and disappointed” with the decision to honor Yoo and that Yoo is a free man today not because he did nothing wrong, but because the Obama Administration lacks the “political will” to prosecute or extradite Bush Administration officials.
We feel that the UC Berkeley School of Law, as one of the leading law schools in the country, has an obligation to uphold ethical legal standards. Yet by maintaining and honoring John Yoo, the law school is undermining its own ethical, political, and legal reputation. Bestowing this honor sends the message that the UC Berkeley School of Law is condoning and promoting policies violating the most fundamental constitutional and human rights. That, in itself, broadens the negative effect Yoo’s jurisprudence has had in the legal and political world. But it also furthers the hostile and unsafe environment on campus for students identifying themselves as political dissidents and/or religious and cultural minorities disproportionately and unfairly targeted in the “War on Terror.”
It is hard to believe political dissidents and Muslims would feel particularly embraced and accepted at UC Berkeley if the law school is honoring a man who justified torturing those same people. Not to mention the consensus among the legal community is that those memos lacked intellectual rigor and merit. Yoo’s memos did not stand in the test of time in remarkably short order. That’s who you want teaching the next generation?
The petition, addressed to UC Berkeley Law School Dean Sujit Choudhry, has already reached
100 157 signatures.