Yoo, tenure, and the Office of Professional Responsibility

If OPR finds that Yoo committed professional misconduct, that would be a good reason for Boalt to open a tenure inquiry.

In a two previous posts, I argued that John Yoo should not be subject to revocation of tenure unless and until some authoritative outside body finds that his conduct in preparing memos that were fairly clearly intended to, and did, directly facilitate the commission of the crime of torture was illegal or unprofessional.

That view put me in a minority among progressive bloggers; here’s Phil Carter’s dissent, and here’s Brad DeLong’s. And judging from my mail, it hasn’t been popular with my readers. Still, I stand by that view; nothing gives the members of a university faculty general power to investigate the non-academic acts of their colleagues, and the fact that the consquences of Yoo’s actions were especially horrific doesn’t change that.

However, should the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility find that Yoo’s actions were unprofessional, that would be exactly the sort of external judgment that might properly trigger an internal inquiry. It might seem far-fetched to imagine that an office that reports to Michael Mukasey would find Yoo’s actions to have been over the top, but there will be another Attorney General in January, and OPR will still be in business.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com