Leiter on John Yoo and Academic Freedom

Freedom to be Wrong
Brian Leiter
The New York Times: Room for Debate
August 21, 2009

On Friday, August 21, 2009, Professor Brian Leiter participated in a New York Times roundtable on the protests of Professor John C. Yoo's employment at the University of California Berkeley Law School. His contribution begins as follows:

As a contractual and perhaps constitutional matter, Professor Yoo cannot be fired or penalized for the content of his scholarship and teaching, unless it involves research misconduct or intellectual dishonesty. A faculty member can also be disciplined by the university if convicted by a court of a serious criminal violation. Berkeley’s regulations on this score are typical.

Professor Yoo has not committed research misconduct. He has defended his views about executive power in scholarly journals, as well as in the memoranda he wrote as an attorney for the government. Other scholars have defended similar views. One may think (as I do) such views implausible, badly argued and morally odious, but they do not involve “research misconduct.”

Brian Leiter