Facebook oversight board includes leftist law prof from Trump impeachment hearing

  • Facebook named 20 members to its new oversight board.
  • The board includes a number American university professors who have donated to leftist causes, including one who testified during President Donald Trump's impeachment hearings.

Stanford Law School Professor of Public Interest Law and Co-Director of the elite institution's Supreme Court Litigation Clinic, Pamela Karlan, has been named to Facebook's new oversight board. The board was created to deal with concerns regarding freedom of expression and judging whether the content in question is best suited for Facebook, according to its policy. 

[RELATED: Tech rights, free speech rights groups say Facebook facilitates government censorship]

The oversight board is focused on dealing with decisions regarding content, each member will be allowed to choose whether content abides by the company's policy, according to their expertise. The board currently has decided 20 members out of a proposed 40 members.

One of the positions is held by Karlan. Members were individually chosen by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerburg.

According to a recent New York Times opinion editorial, penned by the members of the new board, "the oversight board will focus on the most challenging content issues for Facebook, including in areas such as hate speech, harassment, and protecting people’s safety and privacy. It will make final and binding decisions on whether specific content should be allowed or removed from Facebook and Instagram (which Facebook owns)."

Given the concern among conservatives, in particular, over social media censoring, the individual viewpoints of each oversight board member are being scrutinized. With the recent controversy between Google and the conservative website The Federalist, this is even more the case. 

[RELATED: STUDY: Free speech under 'serious threat' at Wisconsin colleges]

Karlan, for her part, was an outspoken proponent of President Donald Trump's impeachment, serving as one of three expert witnesses in the House Judiciary Committee's impeachment proceedings. She compared Trump's call with the Ukrainian president, the basis for the impeachment trial, to living in a state susceptible to natural disasters. 

“Imagine living in a part of Louisiana or Texas that’s prone to devastating hurricanes and flooding. What would you think if you lived there and your governor asked for a meeting with the president to discuss getting disaster aid that Congress has provided for? What would you think if that president said, 'I would like you to do us a favor? I’ll meet with you, and send the disaster relief, once you brand my opponent as a criminal.'" 

[RELATED: Professor worries students will share 'controversial' recorded lectures as classes move online]

Karlan also dragged Trump’s young son, Barron into her speech saying, “I’ll give you one example that shows you the difference between him and a king, which is the constitution says there can be no titles of nobility, so while the president can name his son Barron he can’t make him a baron.”

Under former President Barack Obama, Karlan worked in the civil rights decision of the Department of Justice. The New York Times described Karlan as being "committed to progressive causes."

Since the 2008 election cycle, Karlan has donated thousands of dollars to Democratic candidates, including Obama and Hillary Clinton's presidential campaigns, as well as Sen. Elizabeth Warren's presidential bid in 2020. Campus Reform could not identify any conservative or Republican candidates to which Karlan has donated.

Other members on the Facebook oversight board include five other U.S. college faculty: Stanford law professor Michael McConnell, Columbia University Law School professor Jamal Greene, University of Oklahoma law professor Evelyn Aswad, American University Washington College of Law Professor Catalina Botero Marino, a fellow at Harvard University's Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society Julie Owono.

[RELATED: Free speech org vows to 'monitor' colleges with classes online]

McConnell has donated to Republican candidates, including Mitt Romney's 2012 presidential run; Sen. Josh Hawley (Mo.), Cory Gardner (Colo.), Pat Toomey (Penn.), Marco Rubio (Fla.), and Tom Cotton (Ark.). 

Aswad has donated to ActBlue, an umbrella group for leftist candidates and causes. Greene has donated to ActBlue as well as the presidential campaigns of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Barack Obama, and Hillary Clinton. 

Campus Reform could not identify political giving history for any of the other professors on Facebook's oversight board.

At least four other members work for universities in other countries, including Taiwan, Colombia, Brazil, India, and Australia.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @Jess__Custodio



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Jessica Custodio and Jon Street
Jessica Custodio | New York Senior Campus Correspondent

Jessica Custodio is a New York Senior Campus Correspondent, reporting liberal bias and abuse on her campus. She is a second-year student at SUNY - Dutchess and a member of Phi Theta Kappa.

20 Articles by Jessica Custodio