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In Re John Yoo...

The consensus of thoughtful lawyers on the matter of John Yoo appears to be that John Yoo's conduct amounts to intellectual malpractice--and rises to a level warranting dismissal from the University of California:

With this many academics talking about this stuff, if there were enough directly applicable precedents to be 'controlling' here, someone would know the story offhand. I could be wrong, but I'd bet a fair amount that the decision of how to apply the faculty code of conduct is up to Boalt Hall, reasoning from first principles, not from precedent.

And at that point, I have a very easy time saying it's the equivalent of scholarly misconduct. Legal work isn't exactly scholarship, but it has its own ethical obligations. And writing a memo like that [of March 14, 2003] (everyone's harping on Youngstown, but that's something whose absence takes the memo out of the realm of possible good-faith argument) is unethical -- if those arguments were made to a court, they would be an unethical attempt to deceive the court into believing there was no contrary precedent. That failure to meet the standards of practice required by the legal profession appears to me to be close enough to a failure to abide by the standards of the scholarly profession that it can be treated as an equivalent level of scholarly misconduct.

Note that I'm not arguing that he's such a bad man that he should be fired, but that the memo establishes that he is such a bad (either implausibly incompetent or much more likely ethical-standards-violating) lawyer that he should be fired as a professor of law....

I think it's a pretty easy case to make... [O]n some level the reason you can fire a professor for scholarly misconduct is to make it clear that if you, e.g., falsify data, you may not teach -- people learning to be scholars shouldn't learn that such falsification is compatible with scholarship. Writing legal arguments that ignore (not find some way to distinguish, but flatly ignore) controlling precedent is very much the same sort of misconduct, and the argument that people learning to be lawyers must be protected from coming to believe that it's an acceptable part of lawyering is closely parallel...

This seems to me to be dispositive. I don't see an answer to this argument.

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