Brad Delong is musing about the possibility of petitioning the UC Berkeley faculty senate to consider a motion to investigate Yoo in relation to his gross abdication of professional responsibility as an attorney while employed by the Office of Legal Counsel during the Bush regime:
RESOLVED, that the Berkeley Division Academic Senate appoint a committee consisting of [5?] members of the Berkeley Division, with knowledge of the demands of professional practice, international law, constitutional law, and moral philosophy, to investigate and publicly report on the question whether the Berkeley Division should recommend to the Chancellor any form of disciplinary investigation, with the report to issue no later than August 30, 2010.
It appears that the Dean of Boalt Hall (UC Berkeley’s Law School) has expressed a strong disinclination to consider any sort of sanction of Yoo–including, potentially, termination from his tenured faculty position–on the basis of “academic freedom”.
Academic freedom is about the freedom to express one’s opinions in the context of an academic community and to engage in free inquiry and discourse. Yoo’s opinions written at OLC do not in any way implicate academic freedom; they were professional actions taken as an attorney. If a medical school clinical faculty member in the surgery department repeatedly and unecessarily killed patients on the operating table, would investigation, sanctions, and/or dismissal from her faculty position implicate academic freedom? I think not.
And the argument that such an investigation would “chill” academic discourse is bullshit. An investigation of Yoo’s *professional* conduct as an attorney wouldn’t chill the exercise of *academic* freedom. Such an investigation would not be inquiring at all into his academic activities as a legal scholar, and all it could possibly chill would be the violation of professional standards of conduct as an attorney practicing law. Such a chill would be a good thing.
UPDATE: It is worth pointing out that Yoo’s status as a professor in a professional school is relevant to this analysis, as that means that his non-academic professional conduct in the profession in which he professes is relevant to his fitness to serve as a faculty member in that professional school. If Yoo were a medical school professor in the nephrology department, I would argue that his conduct in OLC would probably *not* be relevant to his fitness to be a medical school faculty member. But he’s a motherfucking *law* professor.