In the News


Jesse Choper in the news:



Councilman to propose bill to regulate costumed characters soliciting in Times Square

Jesse Choper quoted in The New York Times, September 8, 2014

“People do have a right to talk to people,” Mr. Choper said, “and you do have a right, if you aren’t blocking anyone’s path, to say, ‘Would you consider giving me some money?’”


Judge ends marriage equality’s undefeated streak since SCOTUS ruling

Jesse Choper quoted in Talking Points Memo, August 11, 2014

“As for what it all means, I think the simple answer is that the fact that one trial judge in one state issues an opinion is wholly insignificant,” said Jesse H. Choper.


Ticket me Elmo? NYC mulls law for impersonators

Jesse Choper quoted in Associated Press, July 30, 2014

“If you can prove that they are there to seek money, not simply conveying a message … they are subject to greater regulation,” said Jesse Choper.


What are the implications of the most recent Supreme Court decisions?

Jesse Choper interviewed on KALW-FM, Your Call, June 30, 2014

“I don’t think that anybody made light of the fact that the issue of freedom of choice is a very, very important one for women and for other people as well. But I think you want to remember that the Supreme Court was willing to assume that it was a compelling interest.”


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.


Federal judge rules same-sex marriage ban in Pennsylvania is unconstitutional

Jesse Choper quoted on CNN, May 20, 2014

For several of these states, appeals courts already have begun hearing arguments for and against. Whatever their opinions are, University of California-Berkeley law Professor Jesse Choper says, “the Supreme Court is ultimately going to decide.”


Could Donald Sterling succeed in a legal fight against selling the Clippers?

Jesse Choper quoted in The Christian Science Monitor, May 8, 2014

The remarks were recorded illegally and disseminated without Sterling’s consent, says Jesse Choper, a constitutional specialist. Therefore, he says, they might not meet the NBA constitution’s admonition that “an owner will not take any position or action that will materially and adversely affect a team or the league,” as ESPN puts it. “This was a confidential conversation with a lady friend: He certainly wasn’t taking any position, and he never made it public,” Mr. Choper says. “The key words are ‘position’ and ‘action.’”


Donald Sterling: Will it be hard to force him out of NBA?

Jesse Choper quoted in The Christian Science Monitor, April 29, 2014

“It seems clear to me that Silver has recognized substantial difficulty in forcing [Sterling] to sell against his will, and there are several interpretations of the NBA rules that might lend themselves to that,” says Jesse Choper…. “Some of the rules are not clear and would take only a court to decide. My guess is they are hoping he will realize he can make a nice profit by selling, and that he will.”


Measuring California’s impact from affirmative action ban

Jesse Choper quoted on ABC 7 News, April 22, 2014

“This court, the five-justice majority, is very wary of upholding any racial preferences,” said Jesse Choper…. At Cal, black students are among the most underrepresented. “I don’t think there is any question that at Berkeley it does [matter] for African Americans. You have a very small representation,” said Choper.


Supreme Court protects free speech selectively

Jesse Choper and Kenneth Bamberger quoted in San Francisco Chronicle, April 11, 2014

Jesse Choper, a constitutional law professor at UC Berkeley and a self-described moderate, said the court’s free-speech priorities seem skewed. “Protecting dissidents is more central to the First Amendment’s free-speech clause than simply offensive speech,” because a diversity of opinions promotes democracy, he said.

Another Berkeley law professor, Kenneth Bamberger, said the court has been unsympathetic to free speech “where the government is acting as the authority.”


San Bruno explosion case against PG&E could be hard to prove

Jesse Choper quoted in The Christian Science Monitor, April 2, 2014

“It is certainly not unheard of to find a corporation guilty of an offense and impose fines. It is much less common to impose fines or prison sentences on directors, officers, or employees of a corporation,” says Jesse Choper…. “The court or jury would have to find guilt beyond a reasonable doubt of a specific federal offense.”


Finally, a way to diversify Cal universities?

Jesse Choper quoted in California Magazine, March 10, 2014

Beyond that, says UC Berkeley Law professor Jesse Choper, even if the state’s affirmative action ban were to be repealed, times have changed since 1996—and so has the Supreme Court of the United States. “There’s a big hurdle now,” he says. Unlike previous courts, which granted institutions a bit more leeway in crafting diversity-boosting programs, the philosophy of this court is clear: “Race-based programs are a bad thing and we can only use them in extremis.”


MIT plans to set up legal resource for student entrepreneurs

Jesse Choper quoted in USA Today, March 1, 2014

Jesse Choper … says if any reasonable student can conclude that what they did was something MIT was encouraging, the administration must back him up. “The university is legally—if not morally and ethically—obligated to support him,” Choper says.


Kennard leaves imprint on the law—and a seat to fill

Jesse Choper quoted in The Recorder, February 14, 2014 (subscription required)
Liu’s selection “is a very good template for guessing who he’s looking for,” said UC Berkeley law professor Jesse Choper. “It’s clear that he’s looking for someone who’s very smart and very thoughtful.… I think he’s going to look for a moderate liberal, maybe like Joyce Kennard.”


California questions corporations’ religious rights

Kristin Luker and Jesse Choper quoted in San Francisco Chronicle, November 10, 2013

Access to contraception is also part of “the politics of marriage,” said Kristin Luker…. An employer’s refusal to allow birth-control coverage for female employees amounts to “a symbolic statement (promoting) the idea that women should properly be at home with their families, that motherhood is the most important job for women,” Luker said.

What’s more, said Jesse Choper, a constitutional law professor at Berkeley and a former Supreme Court clerk, the court ruled in 1990 that the government can enforce a neutrally drafted, generally applicable law “even though it interferes with religious beliefs”—in that case, an American Indian’s belief in the ritual use of peyote.


Social issues appear on new Supreme Court docket

Jesse Choper quoted in Deseret News, October 8, 2013

Jesse Choper, public law professor at Berkeley Law at the University of California Berkeley, said many of these cases are unpredictable. “You just don’t know which way they’re going to go,” he said. “But the majority of the cases (the court usually takes) are to reverse decisions.”


Many U.S. lawmakers want a say on taking action in Syria

Jesse Choper quoted in National Public Radio, August 28, 2013

“The Constitution doesn’t give me any quick answer to this,” says Jesse Choper, who teaches constitutional law at the University of California, Berkeley. “It does say that Congress shall have the power to declare war. Well, the president would say, ‘I am not declaring war. I am simply implementing foreign policy.’”


Christopher Edley, dean of Berkeley Law, to resign in December

Jesse Choper and Robert Berring quoted in The Daily Californian, August 19, 2013

Edley redefined Boalt’s financial model and raised “unheard of” amounts of money, according to former Berkeley Law dean and current professor Jesse Choper. He also expanded the faculty and modernized the school’s facilities. “Transformative is one of those overused, trendy words, but that’s what his work was — transformative,” Choper said.

“He came from high-level politics and brought incredible energy and vision,” said Berkeley Law professor Robert Berring.


To the mat: parents to appeal ruling allowing yoga in public schools

Jesse Choper and Stephen Sugarman quoted in The Christian Science Monitor, July 3, 2013

“Just because the Ten Commandments condemn murder and theft doesn’t make laws prohibiting murder a violation of church and state,” says Jesse Choper, a constitutional scholar at the School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. “McGowan v. Maryland saved a lot of other religious-looking laws.”

The San Diego case is not the first time a court has rejected a legal claim that teaching yoga in the public schools violates the First Amendment prohibition of the establishment of religion by government, says UC Berkeley law professor Stephen Sugarman…. What is termed yoga can be delivered as a form of healthful exercise and breathing, in effect, as part of the physical education program, he says. “That is what the judge decided here.”


John Roberts, the high court’s chief peacemaker

Jesse Choper quoted in POLITICO, June 27, 2013

“I would be very surprised, and underline the word very, if he were to hold that a prohibition on gay marriage is unconstitutional. If he didn’t join the DOMA case, I don’t think he’s willing to go farther,” said Jesse Choper of the University of California/Berkeley Law School.