Robert Cole

What’s most likely to bring down Trump? We ask Cal’s experts

Robert Cole, Jesse Choper, and Charles Weisselberg quoted by California Magazine, June 22, 2017


“Even if Trump is impeached and removed from office, you end up with President Pence,” says Cole, “and most Democrats would probably not consider that an improvement. … The Democrats should be concentrating on 2018, identifying the districts where they have a chance, and developing a positive program that engages voters. Simply being against Trump isn’t enough.”


“In fact, the only thing I see so far that could tip the scale would be if substantial evidence emerged showing he knew the Russians were working to influence the election in his favor,” says Choper. “That could either force him to resign or convince the House to impeach and the Senate to convict. Other than that—it just seems unlikely to me.”


“There has been considerable debate about whether a sitting president can be charged with criminal offenses,” says Weisselberg. “Many argue the Constitution implicitly provides impeachment as the sole process for removing a serving president. However, a president who resigns or is removed from office can then be criminally prosecuted.”

Milo’s college tour and the First Amendment: An explainer

Ian Haney López, Jesse Choper, Daniel Farber, and Robert Cole quoted by California Magazine, Jan. 26, 2017

López: “When universities invite someone to speak, they communicate that that person’s ideas are within the broad range of important public [discourse],” Haney-Lopez states. “Disinviting someone from speaking likewise communicates something—in this case, that the universities have come to realize that this speaker intentionally degrades people to draw attention, while offering little of any real intellectual substance. His poisonous invective is being drowned out by more and louder speech affirming humane values and inclusion. That’s precisely the ideal of free speech in action.”

Choper: “On the one hand, you have to have a content-neutral basis for [any] regulation [that might impinge on free speech],” says Jesse Choper, a professor emeritus at Berkeley Law, “and on the other, your assessment must be based on the perceived danger of such speech. So in a way, you’re forbidden to make a judgment, and you’re also required to make a judgment.”

Farber: “The Supreme Court has emphasized that the First Amendment is intended to protect ‘uninhibited, robust, and wide-open,’ public debate,” Farber stated in an email, “so in terms of general principles, it seems to me that universities should be very hesitant to exclude a speaker or viewpoint simply because it is offensive or disruptive.”

Cole: In the case of Cal, says Cole, “Berkeley College Republicans is a university-sanctioned organization, and if, as it seems, it issued an invitation and arranged an engagement in accordance with university rules, then the university must allow the event. The university’s role is to remain a neutral marketplace. It can’t cancel a speaking event simply because a speaker is considered controversial, or officials are worried that it could result in bad publicity, or things could get raucous.”

Not holding their tongues: can the commencement speech be saved?

Robert Cole and Jesse Choper quoted in California Magazine, May 28, 2014

“Honorary degrees expose universities to a broader range of objection,” Cole says. “A university may not agree or disagree with a person’s speech, but an honorary degree is an endorsement of that person.” He believes universities should set public criteria for giving out honorary degrees, and steer away from awarding them to people merely because they are famous.

Jesse Choper chalks up a lot of these commencement speech issues to political correctness. “That’s why I’m not a fan,” he says. “I think it’s important to have a variety of views.” To this day, he remembers a small group that tried to hijack a Berkeley law school graduation in the 1990s by hiring a plane to fly a banner over the ceremony to protest the ban on affirmative action. “I don’t think it was effective at all,” Choper says.

Robert Cole Recalls Sixties Protest Movement

The New York Times, November 18, 2011 by Jennifer Gollan

A half-century ago, Berkeley’s protest movement revolved around racial equality, free speech and, later, opposition to the Vietnam War…. “At first,” Mr. Cole said, “the university couldn’t really understand why students were asserting themselves in this way. But these issues were so blatantly American issues, so they appealed to a very large cross section of students and faculty.”

Robert Cole Supports Campus Inquiry into Ethics of Legal Memos

Associated Press, May 7, 2009 by Terence Chea;_ylt=AmVhlsSSV22c8A8hUodFphHZn414

Robert Cole, a professor emeritus at Berkeley’s law school, said he believes the university should conduct its own investigation to determine if Yoo’s work for the Bush administration violated the campus’ faculty code of conduct.
“The university has got to protect its integrity,” Cole said. “Every professor we put in the classroom has to have professional competence and ethical integrity.”

Robert Cole and Eric Rakowski Discuss Tenets of Faculty Code of Conduct

The Daily Californian, April 22, 2009 by Alexandra Wilcox

“These news stories underline what has long been the case—that the university has some obligations to conduct a thorough professional analysis on how its code of conduct applies to off-campus conduct by a faculty member at a professional schoolֽ” said Robert H. Cole.

Rakowski said pursuing disciplinary action for professors’ off-campus conduct is extremely rare. “It’s a real stretch,” he said. “It’s going to be a difficult question whether the faculty code of conduct applies to this, if the accusations are true.”

Jesse Choper and Robert Cole Disagree on President’s Wartime Powers

The Daily Californian, March 4, 2009 by Alexandra Wilcox

-Robert H. Cole … said Yoo’s Oct. 23 memo was a “panicked one lacking in professional objectivity. It’s incredible to me that 9/11 means the president has essentially unlimited power to dispense with our civil liberties,” he said.
-It is not far-fetched that individual rights may be restricted in times of war, said Jesse Choper…. “Most constitutional scholars would agree that the government interest in times of war will be given greater weight by the courts in certain respect in regulation of certain liberties,” he said.

Robert Cole Rebuts John Yoo

Esquire, May 13, by John H. Richardson

“Torture violates the very premise of the legal system itself, that there is something irreducible and inviolable about every person,” says Yoo’s fellow Berkeley law professor Robert H. Cole. “You can’t write a memo about it the way you would write about snowmobiling in Yosemite.”