The Volokh Conspiracy

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Free Speech

U.C. Berkeley School of Law Faculty Statement in Support of Jewish Law Students


Given David Bernstein's and my posts here on this controversy, I thought I'd pass along this statement from various UC Berkeley Law School faculty members, which was released late last week:

We hereby endorse the principle of free and open speech at the law school. This includes the fundamental principle that all students should be freely admitted to all student groups and under no circumstances should any student be denied admission to any student group.

We are highly aware of the extensive discrimination against Jews in World and U.S history. In particular, we note that 2 of 3 Jews in Europe were murdered during the Holocaust and that the United States has engaged in extensive discrimination of Jews during its history.

With this background, we also condemn the discriminatory bylaw adopted by a small minority of our law student groups refusing to accept speakers who have Zionist views or beliefs. We believe this rule is not only wrong but is antithetical to free speech and our community values. These bylaws would also impermissibly exclude a large majority of our faculty from participating in the work of these organizations, including our Dean.

Many Jews (including some of us signing below who are Jewish) also experience this statement as antisemitism because it denies the existence of the state of Israel, the historical home of the Jewish people. For many Jews, Zionism is a core component of their identity and ethnic and ancestral heritage. As an educational institution we hope that the student groups that have now endorsed a "No Zionist speakers" pledge will engage in dialogue on these issues.

[Signatories below.]

Initial signatories are members of the Advisory Board of the Academic Engagement Network
Mark G. Yudof, Professor of Law Emeritus, U.C. Berkeley School of Law
Steven Davidoff Solomon, Alexander F. and May T. Morrison Professor of Law, Faculty Advisor Jewish Students Association at Berkeley Law
Subsequent signatories
Malcolm Feeley, Claire Sanders Clements Professor Emeritus
Peter S. Menell, Koret Professor of Law
Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean and Jesse H. Choper Distinguished Professor of Law
Chris Hoofnagle, Teaching Professor of Law
David Singh Grewal, Professor of Law
Mark Gergen, Robert and Joann Burch D.P. Professor of Tax Law and Policy
Paul M. Schwartz, Jefferson E. Peyser Professor of Law
Kenneth A. Bamberger, The Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation Professor of Law
Daniel Farber, Sho Sato Professor of Law
Elisabeth Semel, Chancellor's Clinical Professor of Law
Richard Buxbaum, Jackson H. Ralston Professor of International Law
Frank Zimring, Simon Professor of Law
Christopher Edley, Jr. , Interim Dean, Berkeley School of Education, Hon. William H. Orrick, Jr. Distinguished Professor and Dean Emeritus, Berkeley Law School
Eric Stover, Adjunct Professor of Law
Melvin Eisenberg, Jesse H. Choper Professor of Law
Orin Kerr, William G. Simon Professor of Law
Robert P. Bartlett, I. Michael Heyman Professor of Law
Robert Cole, Professor of Law
Eric Biber, Edward C. Halbach Jr. Professor of Law
Calvin Morrill, Stefan A. Riesenfeld Professor of Law and Professor of Sociology
Eleanor Swift, Professor of Law,
Carolyn Patty Blum, Clinical Professor of Law
David B. Oppenheimer, Clinical Professor of Law
Lauren B. Edelman, Agnes Roddy Robb Professor of Law and Professor of Sociology
Daniel L. Rubinfeld, Robert L. Bridges Professor of Law
Catherine Crump, Robert Glushko Clinical Professor of Practice in Technology Law
Harry N. Scheiber, Distinguished Professor of Law and History
Jonathan S. Gould, Assistant Professor of Law

Just to be clear, I should note that this particular controversy didn't involve groups rejecting members based on their beliefs, but rather groups doing so as to speakers.