Law Professors

John Yoo Sees Himself as West Berlin During the Cold War


The former Justice Department official who wrote legal memos authorizing harsh interrogations of terrorism suspects views his position as a conservative law professor at a liberal school through the prism of history.

John Yoo has prompted so much protest that administrators at the University of California at Berkeley’s Boalt Hall law school kept the location of his constitutional law class a secret. But Yoo “carries on cheerfully” and seems more amused than uncomfortable, the Los Angeles Times reports.

“I think of myself as being West Berlin during the Cold War, a shining beacon of capitalism and democracy surrounded by a sea of Marxism,” he told the newspaper. Berkeley, he says, is still “tie-dye and marijuana” and the campus is like “a natural history museum of the 1960s.”

He speculated why students enroll in his classes. “Maybe they have the idea that it would be interesting to see what a conservative professor is like,” he said. “Then they can always say, ‘I’ve met a conservative.’ They can tell their family and friends.”

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