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Why Is the Supreme Court taking all these free speech cases?

William Turner, Lecturer in media studies | November 15, 2017

If the U.S. Supreme Court wanted to enlist the First Amendment to advance politically conservative causes, it’s certainly giving itself the opportunity this year. The court has complete, unreviewable discretion to choose the cases it will decide. It’s not random selection. Each term, the court agrees to decide only 70-75 cases, selected from about 8,000 … Continue reading »

Professors are losing their freedom of expression

Erwin Chemerinsky, Berkeley Law dean |

By Erwin Chemerinsky and Howard Gillman, chancellor and professor of law and political science at UC Irvine With so much attention focused on whether controversial speakers such as Milo Yiannapoulos or Richard Spencer should be allowed to appear on campus, an even more basic issue has been obscured: universities punishing faculty who, outside of professional … Continue reading »

Explaining Orthodox Jews’ growing support for the Trump presidency

David Henkin, professor of history | November 9, 2017

(This is cross-posted from the site, Public Books, where it appeared as the 24th installment of The Big Picture, a public symposium on what’s at stake in Trump’s America, co-organized by Public Books and NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge.) Exit polls conducted during the 2016 election yielded a fact about the political allegiances of American Jews that … Continue reading »

Who’s talking to whom about free speech?

William Turner, Lecturer in media studies | November 8, 2017

I came across this picture of the current Supreme Court justices. It must have been taken in an unguarded moment just before their annual formal portrait. In my imagination the justices are chatting about their views on the First Amendment. It looks as though Clarence Thomas is trying out one of his unorthodox theories of … Continue reading »

Trump’s unintended support for immigrant civil rights?

Sarah Lakhani, law student and Human Rights Center fellow | November 1, 2017

Amid the predictably restrictive border policies enumerated in President Trump’s seven-page document recently delivered to Congress is a proposal to hire 370 additional immigration judges to ostensibly “ensure swift return of illegal border crossers.” While on the surface this may sound like another brick in the anti-immigrant border wall being constructed by the Trump administration, … Continue reading »

Trump can pardon Manafort. He shouldn’t

John Yoo, law professor | October 31, 2017

The indictments on Monday of the former Trump campaign officials Paul Manafort and Rick Gates has some prominent conservatives openly considering desperate measures. The Wall Street Journal editorial board called on the special counsel who handed up the indictments, Robert Mueller, to resign, arguing that he lacks the “critical distance” to carry out the inquiry. So did … Continue reading »

When religion ‘trumps’ reproductive rights, enter public health

Alexandra Carter, Human Rights Center fellow and graduate student | October 24, 2017

For decades now, advocates for religious and reproductive rights have argued their morality on the grounds of women’s health. The latest crusade comes with Trump’s announcement to expand religious accommodations and overturn the contraceptive mandate under the Affordable Care Act. Effective immediately, the federal rules allow employers, and now universities, to deny women contraceptive coverage … Continue reading »

Taxpayers, indirect subsidies and influencing America’s gun lobby

Brian DeLay, Associate professor of history | October 10, 2017

After Stephen Paddock opened fire on Las Vegas concertgoers on Oct. 1, many people responded with calls for more gun control to help prevent mass shootings and the routine violence ravaging U.S. neighborhoods. But besides a rare consensus on restricting the availability of so-called bump stocks, which Paddock used to enable his dozen semi-automatic rifles to fire like machine guns, it’s unclear if anything meaningful will … Continue reading »

What is hate speech?

George Lakoff, professor emeritus of linguistics | October 3, 2017

I have been asked what hate speech is. It is not exactly hard to detect. Hate speech defames, belittles, or dehumanizes a class of people on the basis of certain inherent properties — typically race, ethnicity, gender or religion. Hate speech attributes to that class of people certain highly negative qualities taken to be inherent … Continue reading »

Global forced migration and the entanglements of race, state power, capitalism and environmental change

Hossein Ayazi, graduate student and Haas Institute research assistant | September 28, 2017

When people think of forced migration today, what might they think of? Most might think of the “European refugee crisis.” And why would they not? In 2015, over 1.3 million people arrived at Europe’s borders by way of the Mediterranean Sea, the largest wave of forced migration in nearly a century. Most might also think … Continue reading »

It’s the German economy, stupid! Economic inequality, not immigration, explains far right rise in Germany

Beverly Crawford, Professor emerita, Political Science and International and Area Studies | September 27, 2017

The surprise showing of the far-right nationalist party, Alternativ fuer Deutschland (AfD) in Sunday’s German election has struck fear in the hearts of many analysts. Is Germany’s liberal democracy and society simply a thin veneer covering the monster of virulent nationalism that has long been crouching in the dark, waiting for its chance to attack? … Continue reading »

GOP’s last-ditch effort to repeal ACA worst one yet for California

Laurel Lucia, Labor Center Health Care Program director | September 20, 2017

Co-authored by Laurel Lucia, Ian Perry and Ken Jacobs; crossposted from the blog of the UC Berkeley Labor Center. Once again, Congress is considering a bill that would repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and make major cuts to Medicaid. Next week, the Senate may vote on this latest repeal effort, led by Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham … Continue reading »

On speech and belonging

john a. powell, director, Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society | September 18, 2017

Today and in the upcoming weeks there are those scheduled to make appearances on our campus who are not coming here for dialogue. These speakers are not using their right to speak merely to communicate, they are using speech carefully crafted to harm, to demonize, to disparage, to create a sense of fear about anyone they deem Other. … Continue reading »

The Great Wall of UC Berkeley vs. Baby Face Shapiro

Nancy Scheper-Hughes, anthropology professor |

The UC administration has gone AWOL, deserting their posts and responsibilities as leaders of one of the world’s finest public universities. The current threat is Baby Face Ben Shapiro, a smart aleck, wisecracking, racist, sexist, misogynist, Islamaphobic, bully to be sure. The little bully right-wing prodigy argues that transgender people are delusional and suffering from … Continue reading »

Trump swings a wrecking ball at U.S.-Asia relations

T.J. Pempel, professor of political science | September 13, 2017

Few analysts in the United States or East Asia anticipated the speed with which the Trump administration would swing a wrecking ball into the complex and longstanding machinery of the United States’ relations with the Asia Pacific. Yet in its first six months, it is well on its way to eviscerating many of the most … Continue reading »

The false media focus on violence: If it bleeds it still leads

Jen Schradie, research fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study in Toulouse | September 7, 2017

On Sunday, August 27, in downtown Berkeley, I witnessed thousands of protesters raising their voices against a planned white supremacist “Patriot Prayer” rally. In my decades as a documentary filmmaker of activism and now an academic studying movements and media, it was one of the most positive, diverse and unifying gatherings I ever experienced. While … Continue reading »

Canada should welcome America’s ‘dreamers’

Irene Bloemraad, professor of sociology | August 29, 2017

By Irene Bloemraad and Ratna Omidvar This commentary is reposted from The Globe and Mail in Canada, where it originally appeared in February 2017. We are now witnessing the casualties of new United States policies arriving at Canadian borders. More might soon follow as those who lack residence documents face a grim future and the … Continue reading »