Oral History Center - UC Berkeley Library

Jesse Choper: Scholar of Constitutional Law and Dean of Berkeley Law School

Interviewee(s):
Choper, Jesse
Interviewer(s):
Meeker, Martin
Title:
Jesse Choper: Scholar of Constitutional Law and Dean of Berkeley Law School
Abstract:
Jesse Choper is the Earl Warren Professor of Public Law (Emeritus) at the University of California, Berkeley, School of Law, where he was also dean. Choper was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, in 1935 to immigrant parents from Lithuania. He was educated at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, and alongside his studies served on the law review and lectured at the Wharton School. Following his graduation in 1960, he served as law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Earl Warren. He has authored numerous influential books and articles on constitutional law, including the role of the Supreme Court, the religion clauses of the Constitution, the eleventh amendment, as well as casebooks on constitutional and corporate law. This autobiographical oral history covers the full sweep of his life and work as a legal scholar, educator, and administrator. In this interview, Dean Choper talks about his upbringing and evolving relationship to Judaism; his education and teaching experience and philosophy; his clerkship for Chief Justice Warren; the numerous complex issues he faced as faculty and dean of the law school; the issues behind his books and articles on constitutional law, including freedom of religion, the establishment clause, contraception and abortion, individual rights, federalism, and separation of powers; reflections on changes over the past several decades to the Supreme Court, tenure, and approaches to constitutional law; and his role on the California Horse Racing Board
Subject area(s):
Education, University of California
Politics, Law, and Policy
Interview date(s):
2018, 2019
Project:
Education and University of California - Individual Interviews
Rights:
Jesse Choper “Jesse Choper: Scholar of Constitutional Law and Dean of Berkeley Law School” conducted by Martin Meeker in 2018, Oral History Center of the Bancroft Library, The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, 2019.