From the Dean

A portrait photographic headshot of Dean Erwin Chemerinsky smiling
Photo by Jim Block
“There is strong agreement that it is our role — as faculty, as students, and as an institution — to advance justice.”

Advancing Rights

Basic human rights are in danger in the United States and across the world. On June 24, the U.S. Supreme Court, in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, overruled Roe v. Wade and held that the Constitution no longer protects a right of women to choose whether to terminate their pregnancies. This is one of the few instances in American history where the Supreme Court has taken away a constitutional right.

Across the world, there has been a rise in authoritarian governments, which are taking away fundamental rights to freedom of speech, due process, and reproductive choice. Thirty years ago, after the fall of the Soviet Union, democracies were emerging in many countries. Now it is frightening to see the turn towards authoritarian regimes.

As a law school, Berkeley Law is deeply committed to advancing the rule of law and to advancing freedom and equality. Although, of course, there are disagreements among our faculty and students about what this should mean and how to achieve it, there is strong agreement that it is our role — as
faculty, as students, and as an institution — to advance justice.

The cover feature spread in this issue of Transcript focuses on some of the many efforts occurring at Berkeley Law to protect rights, in the United States and across the world. It describes the work of our students and faculty and clinics and centers on a number of important issues, ranging from reproductive justice to evidentiary fairness in criminal trials to privacy to international human rights.

Of all the statistics about Berkeley Law that I am proud of, and there are many, none is a source of greater satisfaction than that almost 95% of our first-year law students engage in pro bono work. Almost every student participates in one of our many efforts — our Pro Bono Program, our clinics, our centers — to protect people’s rights and enhance freedom and equality. Our public mission truly is a part of all we do.

At a time when many people are frightened and discouraged by what is happening, our response must be to fight harder and better than ever before to advance rights and equality. I am so proud of what we are doing at Berkeley Law in this regard, and I hope you enjoy reading about it in this issue of Transcript.


Erwin Chemerinsky
Dean, Jesse H. Choper Distinguished Professor of Law