1969.10.20 — Law Professors Active in Davis Case — UCLA Law School
The Docket, UCLA Law School
October 20, 1969
LAW PROFESSORS ACTIVE IN DAVIS CASE
by JON KOTLER
Five Law School professors were instrumental in composing each of the eight resolutions overwhelmingly passed at the emergency meeting of the UCLA Academic Senate which met to consider UC Regents’ action in the Angela Davis case on October 1.
Those involved were Professors Arthur Rosett, Kenneth Karst, Harold Horowitz, Leon Letwin and Henry McGee.
Prior to considering the resolutions, the Senate approved the report of the on Academic Freedom, whose five members included Professor Arthur Rosett.
The Committee report stated that the termination of Miss Davis’ appointment by the Regents at their meeting of Sept. 19 was “in grave violation of the principles of academic freedom . . . (and) that it also impinges upon the individual and collective rights of all of the Faculty under the laws and Constitutions of the state of California and of the United States.”
Recommendations by this body included legal intervention to seek a judicial declaration that “this infringement upon our rights of privilege and tenure and upon our constitutional rights is and void,” as well as calling upon all members of the Senate to contribute to the expenses of the planned litigation “brought on their behalf.”
Out of these recommendations came the subsequent suit filed on behalf of the Senate, the details of which are explained elsewhere on this page.
Resolutions one through five, were drafted primarily by Professors Kenneth Karst and Harold Horowitz, and included proposals which ran the gamut from a demand that the Regents refute their stand upholding political affiliation as a basis for disqualification, to the appointment of an ad hoc committee charged with considering the legal aspects of the Regents’ recent actions.
Specifically, Resolution One declared that “A faculty member’s fitness to teach is to be judged by his professional qualifications and his own duct, not the conduct, of his political associates. It also called upon the Regents to honor their own Standing Order 102.1 which sets nut that “no political test shall ever be considered in the appointment and promotion of any faculty member or employee.
Resolution Two stales that the Regents’ dismissal proceedings were “knowing and deliberate” violations of both the United States and California Constitutions as well as official anarchy” and “the height of irresponsibility” in as much as “The University has a contractual commitment to Angela Davis (and) its officers, including the Regents, are sworn to defend the Constitution of the United States and the State of California.” It ended by announcing that “it is time for these officers ion demonstrate their respect for law.”
The third resolution called upon the other divisions of the Academic Senate, the Statewide Assembly and the Academic Council to “join in this Division’s repudiation of political tests for membership in the University facility and its condemnation of the Regents’ action. . . .”
Resolution Four recommends that a “friend of the court” be appointed to appear on behalf of the Senate in any hearing the Committee on Privilege and Tenure may hold in connection with Miss Davis’ dismissal “to argue against application of the Regents’ resolutions of 1940 and 1949 disqualifying members of the Communist Party for membership in the University faculty.”
The establishment of a committee to advise members of the Senate on the desirability, timing, and conduct of litigation to declare the invalidity of the Regents’ resolutions was the subject of successfully passed Resolution Five. Subsequently, Professor Harold Horowitz was named to head the committee assisted by Professors Kenneth Karst and Henry McGee.
Professor Henry McGee authored Resolutions Six and Seven, the latter calling for the establishment of the Angela Davis Fund “to guard against the possibility that Professor Davis may be severed from the University payroll . . . . and to assist in payment of her legal fees and costs to oppose the willful action of the Regents.”
The final resolution to come out of the meeting was submitted by Professor Leon Letwin, in his role as Chairman of the Senate Committee on Equal Opportunities it reflected that any serious effort to implement a policy of recruitment of minority group members for UCLA faculty positions “required acceptance of the fact that minority candidates will, with some frequency, come with unconventional political backgrounds and views as judged from majority perspectives Regentally imposed political tests which assault the academic freedom of all will fall upon such candidates with unusual severity.”