From: Dean Erwin Chemerinsky
Date: June 1, 2023
Dear Legal Community,
It is my goal that Berkeley Law be an environment where all ideas and views can be expressed. This includes speech on controversial issues and even expression that might offend others. I want to do all I can to facilitate and protect that speech. I therefore have been very upset to see that some of our students have been threatened and harassed because they chose to exercise their First Amendment rights.
Some of our students, particularly those supporting the Law Students for Justice in Palestine, have been targeted by Canary Mission. Canary Mission is an extremist website that declares that its purpose is to document “people and groups that promote hatred of the USA, Israel and Jews.” The website does this by publicizing the names, pictures, social media accounts, and other personal information of those whose views it disagrees with it. It says that its intent is keeping “today’s radicals from becoming tomorrow’s employees.”
I condemn this targeting of particular students because of their speech with the goal of harming their employment opportunities. It has caused great injury to our students and our community. This targeting of students because of their views undermines our desire to be a place where difficult issues can be debated and where students feel comfortable taking political positions. Students have reported removing particular experiences from their resumes and refusing to participate in groups and/or events that they would otherwise be interested in because of Canary Mission’s targeted attempt to affect their employment outcomes.
Although I may disagree with some of my students’ views on specific issues, it is my firm belief that the Canary Mission website should not be used as a resource to evaluate students’ qualifications for hiring. If Berkeley Law students are barred from employment opportunities for exercising their First Amendment rights, it will have the grave effect of chilling speech and stifling the exchange of ideas on campus.
Dean and Jesse H. Choper Distinguished Professor of Law
University of California, Berkeley School of Law