This week US News and World Report published its rankings of law schools. While exciting for the law professor and student crowds, this is usually as interesting to me as the arrival of the Yellow Pages.
But I was intrigued by John Yoo — one of the Bush Justice Department lawyers that rationalized torture — who has moved on to be a tenured professor at one of the nation’s more prestigious law schools, The University of California at Berkley.
Surely, I thought, such an individual would hurt Berkley in the law school rankings. But it didn’t. In 2007 and 2008 the school was tied for 8th. Now it is tied for 6th. The rankers apparently don’t really care if a school employs a torturer.
It left me thinking of the obvious issues of students and law firms potentially boycotting Berkeley, if not formally than informally. After all:
- What does it say about a law school administration that allows a torturer to teach its students?
- What does it say about the students that would agree to be taught by a torturer?
- Is being taught by such an individual a detriment to employability?
- Will alumni continue to give money to a school, knowing that this is how money is being spent?
- Will law school rankers continue to ignore Yoo’s presence on the staff in years to come?
Berkeley, perhaps, will carry on just fine by keeping such an individual on its staff as it has years of reputation under its belt and alumni in high positions around the nation. But it seems rather incredible that a school — any school of any kind, except perhaps selected militant madrases where such conduct might be hailed — would have such a person teaching its students.
For more on the rankings (but not on how Yoo failed to influence the rankings) see: