An Indian American professor at the University of California Berkeley’s School of Law has joined an exodus of business and academic leaders quitting President Donald Trump’s advisory boards and councils.
Sonia Katyal, the Chancellor’s Professor of Law at the reputed university, has quit the Commerce Department’s Digital Economy Board of Advisors, an Obama-era initiative to help the federal government navigate the challenges of an emerging economy. More than half of the members of this advisory board – all who were appointed by former Commerce Department Secretary Penny Pritzker – have quit, according to Politico, citing Trump’s controversial comments on the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Aug. 11-12, in which one woman, Heather Heyer, a young white counter-protestor, was killed.
Trump Aug. 12 blamed counter-protestors and rally supporters for the violence which ensued during the event. He attempted to recant his remarks Aug. 14, but metaphorically shot himself in the foot again the following day.
Merck Pharmaceuticals CEO Ken Frazier, who is African American, set off the wave of resignations Aug. 14, as he quit Trump’s Manufacturing Council, stating that Trump had not adequately condemned to the violence in Charlottesville. Several business leaders followed Frazier’s exit the following day, quitting both the Manufacturing Council and Trump’s Strategy and Policy Forum. Indian American actor Kal Penn, and writer Jhumpa Lahiri – both Obama appointees to the administration’s arts council – also resigned during the turbulent week.
Trump disbanded the Manufacturing Council and the Policy Forum Aug. 16.
Katyal, the sister of former Acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal, was an inaugural member of the Digital Economy Board of Advisors, also known as DEBA.
She joined the Berkeley faculty 2015 from Fordham Law School, where she served as the associate dean for research, according to her DEBA bio.
Katyal focuses on intellectual property, technology, art law, new media, civil rights, and property theory. Her current projects focus on the intersection between technology, Internet access and civil/human rights, with a special focus on the right to information, according to her DEBA bio.
Katyal has been named as one of the top 35 most-cited intellectual property law professors in the country. She has won several national awards for her work.