UC Berkeley law professor John Yoo loves to deride Berkeley as being far outside the mainstream, but a federal judge in San Francisco ruled yesterday that Yoo’s ideas are so extreme, they’re unconstitutional. The judge said that a legal theory the Bush administration used to justify warrantless wiretaps on Americans was flatly illegal. Yoo, along with lawyers working for then-Vice President Dick Cheney, came up with that theory while working for the Bush Department of Justice in 2002. The ruling represents another slap in the face for Yoo’s legal ideas, which repeatedly have been struck down by the courts.
In yesterday’s ruling, according to the Chron, Chief US District Court Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that the “theory of unfettered executive-branch discretion” during wartime holds an “obvious potential for government abuse” and is unconstitutional. Yoo’s sweeping view of a president as a defacto dictator during times of war has been repeatedly rebuked by the courts, including the US Supreme Court. Yoo employed the now disgraced legal opinion, which has no foundation in US law or court precedent, to authorize the torture of prisoners and warrantless wiretaps.
News that Yoo’s extreme ideas had been discredited again by the US legal system came on the heels of an interview that the professor gave to the Los Angeles Times in which he criticized Berkeley as being engulfed in a “Sea of Marxism,” because activists have called for him to be fired. “I think of myself as being West Berlin during the Cold War, a shining beacon of capitalism and democracy,” he told the newspaper.
And what a shining beacon of democracy he is. His legal views were so “democratic” that the courts have been repeatedly forced to call them unconstitutional. And they were so “democratic” they had to be soundly rejected by his own Republican successors in the Bush administration.