Impeachment figure among those chosen for Facebook’s new oversight board

Pamela Karlan, the constitutional law expert at Stanford Law School who testified before the House Judiciary Committee during the impeachment inquiry against president Trump last year, is one of the 20 members of Facebook’s independent oversight board. 

Facebook announced the members of the board, including four co-chairs Wednesday.

The co-chairs include Helle Thorning-Schmidt, a former Danish prime minister, Michael McConnell, a constitutional law professor at Stanford University, Jamal Greene, a Columbia law professor, and Catalina Botero-Marino, dean of Universidad de los Andes faculty of law.

During impeachment proceedings, the House Judiciary Committee held hearings with four constitutional law experts, including Karlan, to determine whether the president’s actions amounted to “high crimes and misdemeanors.” 

Following a whistleblower complaint, the House Democrats launched an impeachment inquiry to determine whether Trump leveraged military aid to Ukraine in exchange for dirt on his chief political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden. 

The House voted largely along party lines to impeach the president in December of last year. Early this year, he was acquitted in the Senate. 


Each of the law experts, with the exception of Jonathan Turley, who is also an opinion contributor at The Hill, explicitly said that based on the record of witness testimony they concluded that Trump committed impeachable offenses.

Karlan took part in some memorable exchanges with lawmakers during the House impeachment hearings. 

In one instance, Rep. Doug Collins, ranking member of the Judiciary Committee, said in his opening statement that the law experts “couldn’t have possibly actually digested the Adam Schiff report from yesterday or the Republican response in any real way.”

“Here Mr. Collins I would like to say to you, sir, that I read transcripts of every one of the witnesses who appeared in the live hearing because I would not speak about these things without reviewing the facts,” Karlan responded in her opening statement. “So I’m insulted by the suggestion that as a law professor I don’t care about those facts.”

In another instance, Karlan was asked by Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) to draw comparisons between the president’s actions in Ukraine and that of the monarchs the framers were afraid of. 

“While the president can name his son Barron, he can’t make him a baron,” Karlan responded, inciting laughter in the hearing room.  

The comment was later criticized by some, including the president’s sons. Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-Fla.) said that Karlan’s words did not add to her argument and made her look “mean.” Then-White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham, who now serves as a spokesperson for the First Lady, called Karlan’s comments “classless.” 

Karlan later apologized for her comments. 

Karlan worked in the Justice Department’s civil rights division during the Obama administration and has represented clients in various Supreme Court cases, such as the LGBTQ work discrimination cases, where she argued Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, which prohibits employment discrimination over “sex,” encompasses gender identity and sexual orientation.

Facebook’s oversight group coalesced by the board’s co-chairs will have a final and binding say over whether content should be allowed on, or taken down from, Facebook and Instagram.

“We are all committed to freedom of expression within the framework of international norms of human rights,” the four co-chairs of the board wrote in a New York Times op-ed introducing themselves to the public Wednesday.

“We will make decisions based on those principles and on the effects on Facebook users and society, without regard to the economic, political or reputational interests of the company.”

The rest of the members are as follows:

Afia Aasantewaa Asare-Kyeia – Program Manager, Open Society Initiative for West Africa

Evelyn Aswad – Professor and Chair, University of Oklahoma College of Law

Endy Bayuni – Senior Editor and Board Member, The Jakarta Post

Katherine Chen – Professor, National Chengchi University

Nighat Dad – Founder, Digital Rights Foundation

Tawakkol Karman – Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

Maina Kiai – Director, Human Rights Watch Global Alliances and Partnerships

Sudhir Krishnaswamy – Vice Chancellor and Professor of Law, National Law School of India University

Ronaldo Lemos – Professor, Rio de Janeiro State University’s Law School

Julie Owono – Executive Director, Internet Sans Frontières

Emi Palmor – Advocate and Lecturer, Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, Israel

Alan Rusbridger – Principal, Lady Margaret Hall Oxford

Andras Sajo – Founding Dean of Legal Studies, Central European University

John Samples – Vice President, Cato Institute

Nicolas Suzor – Professor, School of Law at Queensland University of Technology

Tags Adam Schiff Donald Trump Doug Collins Joe Biden Matt Gaetz Paul Gosar Sheila Jackson Lee Stephanie Grisham
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