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2016th Stated Meeting: Policy Perspectives on Police Use of Lethal Force

Watch video of this event.

On February 4, 2015, in the wake of the tragic events in Ferguson, Missouri, and on Staten Island, Jonathan Fanton introduced a panel discussion convened at the University of California, Berkeley, on the use of lethal force by police. As part of the event, Dr. Fanton recognized Academy Fellow Jesse Choper for his dedicated volunteer service to the American Academy.

The discussion served as the 2016th Stated Meeting of the American Academy.

It has become an annual tradition for the Academy to hold a series of meetings in California early in the New Year. Berkeley has become a regular destination, and we are always grateful for the warm reception we receive here.

There are 186 members of the Academy on the Berkeley faculty, more than at any other public institution and the fifth-largest group of Academy Fellows at any university. As the new president of the Academy, my highest priority is to increase the engagement of our members. I invite all of you to come forward with ideas for studies, projects, and publications the Academy might undertake—and to join with the members of the Berkeley faculty who are among our most active Fellows.

As some of you may know, retired chancellor Robert Birgeneau is currently leading the Lincoln Project: Excellence and Access in Public Higher Education. Cochaired by Mary Sue Coleman of the University of Michigan, the Lincoln Project is considering the implications of declining state investment in public higher education and is developing recommendations for ensuring that public universities continue to serve the nation as engines of research, economic development, and opportunity for Americans from all backgrounds. Henry Brady, Dean of the Goldman School of Public Policy, chairs the project’s data subcommittee and directs a distinguished group of researchers at Berkeley’s D-Lab as they collect data on tuition, revenue, and research productivity at our nation’s flagship public institutions.

Nobel laureate Randy Schekman, the Howard Hughes Investigator and Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology, was an important member of the Academy’s Council for many years and served on both of the Academy’s projects on Advancing Research in Science and Engineering—also known as ARISE. The ARISE I committee also included Susan Graham, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Emerita here at Berkeley.

The ARISE reports encourage support of early-career investigators and the pursuit of high-risk, high-reward research and recommend new models for collaboration among universities, business, and government in the nation’s research system.

Last September, we released our newest report in our ongoing efforts to advance science policy, Restoring the Foundation: The Vital Role of Research in Preserving the American Dream. It recommends a greater emphasis on long-range planning for science and engineering research while also encouraging funders and policy-makers to increase support for basic research that may not yield immediate results but that may ultimately prove transformative in unexpected ways.

It is my hope that more Fellows at Berkeley and across the nation will become engaged in our work and suggest ways that the Academy might be helpful to them in their own work. I invite you to come forward with ideas for studies, project, and publications the Academy might undertake. The topics can be speculative, questions on which you would like to consult with other members of the Academy. We have created a modest fund to support meetings of members who want to explore topics of common interest. And over the next year or two we will create an online database of the current interests of Academy members to make it easier for you to connect with your colleagues.

This evening, I would like to recognize one Academy Fellow in particular who has devoted so much of his time and expertise to our work. I don’t think there has ever been a faculty member from this campus who has done more for and with the American Academy than Professor Jesse Choper.

As most of you know, Jesse Choper is a distinguished scholar of Constitutional Law. He served as law clerk to Chief Justice Earl Warren, taught at the University of Pennsylvania and the University of Minnesota, and then joined the faculty at Boalt Hall in 1965, serving as dean from 1982 to 1992. He has written several important studies in Constitutional law including Judicial Review and the National Political Process: A Functional Reconsideration of the Role of the Supreme Court and Securing Religious Liberty: Principles for Judicial Interpretation of the Religion Clauses.

We honor him this evening for his contributions to the American Academy. Elected in 1983, Professor Choper served for eleven years on the Academy’s Council and for thirteen years as a member of the Development Committee. He chaired the Membership Panel in the Law and led our Western Regional Committee for nearly twenty years.

He has also been a featured speaker at six different Academy Stated Meetings, starting in 1997 with “The Current Justices of the US Supreme Court,” and most recently as a speaker at a 2009 conference on “The Public Good: the Impact of Information Technology on Society.”

Few Fellows have ever been as deeply engaged in the life of the American Academy as Jesse Choper, and he continues to work with us to engage more members on the West Coast.

On behalf of the Board and Officers of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, I thank you, Jesse, for your generosity and good counsel. As a token of our appreciation, we present you with a copy of Earl Warren’s 1957 letter of acceptance to the membership of the Academy. Please join me in recognizing Jesse Choper.

And on an evening when we honor Jesse Choper, we thought it would be appropriate to have a program on an important topic in legal studies, featuring distinguished scholars from Boalt Hall.

Among the most important documents in the 235-year history of the American Academy is the two-volume edition of Dædalus entitled The Negro American, published in the fall of 1965 and the winter of 1966, but organized only a few months after the Selma march. Those volumes, featuring essays by John Hope Franklin, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, James Q. Wilson, and Robert Coles, as well as an introduction by President Lyndon Johnson, provided a scholarly, critical examination of the challenges and opportunities for the Civil Rights Movement. Perhaps the best statement of the Academy’s intentions at that time can be found in an essay entitled “The Goals of Integration,” by the distinguished historian of immigration, Oscar Handlin, who wrote:

In the absence of defined goals, it is difficult to estimate the character or pace of change or even to judge its direction. Under these circumstances, organizational controls and leadership weaken. There is confusion about which objectives are salient, and issues tend to crop up of their own accord. Action is sporadic, local, and discontinuous and is not related to any general standard of importance. Explosive activists, always ready to precipitate conflict, find tactical opportunities to determine the questions to be fought over while the established leadership has to tag along to maintain its influence. At the same time, the atmosphere of continuous crisis generates the obligation of solidarity.

In 1965, in the midst of a great national upheaval, the Academy assumed some responsibility for helping the nation to define its goals and to clear “the atmosphere of continuous crisis.” We see this evening’s program on “Policy Perspectives on Police Use of Lethal Force” as a continuation of that important tradition: an opportunity to engage in a scholarly, critical examination of the challenges and opportunities that we face as a nation in the aftermath of the tragedies at Ferguson and Staten Island.

At this point, Dr. Fanton welcomed Sujit Choudhry (Dean of the University of California, Berkeley School of Law, Boalt Hall) to introduce the participants on the panel, Franklin Zimring (William G. Simon Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law) and Andrea Roth (Assistant Professor of Law at the University of California, Berkeley School of Law).

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