Blame Berkeley

Blame Berkeley

Slate's blog on legal issues.
April 14 2008 1:31 PM

Blame Berkeley

With all due respect to Chris Edley, whom I admire, and the University of California, to which I owe a great deal, I think Edley's position on John Yoo gets it exactly wrong and epitomizes why people deride the "Ivory Tower" as insulated from reality.
 
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Law schools have an obligation to do more than teach lawyers to offer legal advice without regard for the consequences of their counsel . I also think that law schools ought to model behavior for their students and think very seriously about the pedagogical impact of retaining a man on the faculty whose legal advice and scholarship produced such disastrous policy , to say nothing of the suffering of those on the receiving end of Yoo's ideas.
 
And I think Edley's position wrongfully absolves lawyers, and the legal academy, of responsibility for when they get things wrong or when their counsel produces terrible outcomes. As my colleague Deborah Pearlstein points out, we wouldn't accept that result in molecular biology or medicine or many other disciplines. I don't think we should accept it in the law, either not in practice and not in law school, either. Academic freedom should not be a dodge for personal or professional responsibility.

Phillip Carter is a former Army officer and former Pentagon official who is now senior fellow at a Center for a New American Security in Washington.

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