CUNY Group Files ABA Complaint Over Law School Faculty’s Unanimous Adoption Of BDS Resolution Against Israel

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CUNY (2021)Yesterday, Students and Faculty for Equality at CUNY (S.A.F.E. CYNY) filed a complaint with the ABA Council on Legal Education alleging that the CUNY Law School faculty’s unanimous adoption of a Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions resolution against Israel is discriminatory, infringes upon academic freedom, and violates accreditation standards 105 (Acquiescence For Substantive Change in Program or Structure), 205 (Non-Discrimination and Equality of Opportunity), 206 (Diversity and Inclusion), and 405 (Professional Environment):

We write on behalf of Jewish Zionists, Israelis, and other students and faculty members across the City University of New York (CUNY), including at CUNY School of Law (“CUNY Law”), who are deeply concerned with the law school’s recent unanimous faculty adoption of a formal BDS policy that vulgarly and blatantly discriminates against students, prospective students, faculty and employees, and prospective faculty and employees on the basis of ethnicity, religion, and nationality. We believe that the adopted BDS policy also violates well-established principles of academic freedom. As detailed below, we submit that CUNY School of Law’s newly adopted BDS policy is discriminatory and blatantly flouts the accreditation requirements set forth in the ABA Standards for Approval of Law Schools. We urge the ABA Council on Legal Education (the “Council”) to take immediate action to bring the law school into compliance or to revoke its accreditation. …

In sum, CUNY Law faculty’s BDS Policy adoption grossly violates sections 105, 205, 206, and 405 of the ABA Standards for Approval of Law Schools. We therefore ask the Council to review these unprecedented and deeply discriminatory policy adoptions and take all appropriate measures under Rule 2 and Rule 15, including withdrawal of accreditation, sanctions, and/or remedial action until such time as CUNY Law rejects its discriminatory policies and returns to compliance with the ABA Standards.

Steven Lubet (Northwestern), CUNY Law Faculty’s Problematic Endorsement of Anti-Israel Stance:

CUNY Law’s boycott commitment may have severe consequences. A law school must be accredited by the American Bar Association for its graduates to take the New York bar, and one of the ABA’s requirements is respect for academic freedom. Likewise, the prestigious Association of American Law Schools requires its members, including CUNY Law, to promote “the core values of . . . academic freedom, and diversity, including diversity of backgrounds and viewpoints.” The ABA and AALS conduct joint site visits every 10 years to determine whether accreditation and membership are still warranted.

No other law school has enacted its own foreign policy, so it remains to be seen whether promotion of an academic boycott will affect accreditation. Chancellor Matos Rodriguez recently reiterated his rejection of the BDS resolutions, and the boycotting professors themselves might have qualms: They never publicized their resolution, it’s not on the law school’s website and the faculty deans declined to answer my specific questions about it. CUNY Law’s next accreditation review is not until 2026, so the faculty has plenty of time to reconsider its imprudent and counter-productive endorsement of the BDS movement.

Steven Lubet (Northwestern), More on the CUNY Law Faculty’s Israel Boycott:

The Alliance for Academic Freedom, of which I am a member, comprises more than 200 liberal and progressive scholars committed to upholding academic freedom and free speech in campus debates surrounding Israel and Palestine, supportive of both peoples’ national aspirations, and opposed to Israeli occupation of the West Bank. Here is AAF’s recent statement on the CUNY Law faculty’s recent BDS resolution:

Queens Dailty Eagle Op-Ed (Avi Posnick (StandWithUs)), Antisemitism at CUNY School of Law

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