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News@Law, 03/07/2016

News@Law is a selection of the day's news clips regarding Harvard Law School.
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The New York Times
Harvard Law to Abandon Crest Linked to Slavery
Harvard Law School is poised to abandon an 80-year-old shield based on the crest of a slaveholding family that helped endow the institution, as campuses across the country debate the use of historic names and symbols that some consider offensive...But it came with a passionate dissent from Annette Gordon-Reed, a professor of legal history who is known for her scholarship on Thomas Jefferson and his relationship with Sally Hemings, his slave. The work of Ms. Gordon-Reed, who had argued that historians had too readily discounted the oral testimony of Hemings’s descendants, was vindicated in 1998 by DNA evidence showing that Jefferson fathered a child by Hemings...In an email Friday, Ms. Gordon-Reed said she had been influenced by her scholarship on Hemings. “This is my life’s work,” she said. “I sincerely believe that we owe it to the enslaved to work through those feelings and think of ways to carry their stories forward. And we should do that in a way that shows the inherently entwined nature of the good and bad of our past, using written text and symbols like the sheaves and, even, buildings like Monticello.”
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The Wall Street Journal
The Trump-Obama Corporate Tax Reform Fail
An op-ed by Mihir Desai. Removing the incentive for American companies to move their headquarters abroad is a widely recognized goal. To do so, the U.S. will need to join the rest of the G-7 countries and tax business income only once, in the country where it was earned. Notably, this principle—called territoriality—is included in the bipartisan framework for international tax reform developed by Sens. Rob Portman (R., Ohio) and Charles Schumer (D., N.Y.) in 2015. Unfortunately, recent reform proposals have a serious flaw: a “minimum tax” on foreign business income. This flaw is in President Obama’s fiscal 2017 budget, and Republican presidential front-runner, Donald Trump, has broached a similar idea on the campaign trail.
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The New York Times
Political Talk on Guantánamo Veers From Facts
Even by the standards of an epically polarized Washington, the political talk about President Obama’s effort to close the Guantánamo Bay prison is starkly divorced from facts. On both sides of the debate, many claims collapse under scrutiny....“Both the Republicans and the president are significantly exaggerating the threats and harms posed by the other side’s positions,” said Jack Goldsmith, a top Justice Department official in the George W. Bush administration, now at Harvard Law School. “The moral and national security arguments on both sides mostly serve other agendas — political advantage for the Republicans, and legacy burnishing for the president.”
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The Lancet
TPP: trade-offs for health behind closed doors (subscription)
...At the very least, the process can be made more transparent. Mark Wu, an assistant professor at Harvard University Law School who led US negotiations on intellectual property for several previous trade agreements, says: “There’s a concern by certain members of the public that their views aren’t being heard by the negotiators, but also a concern that they don’t have the necessary information to make informed choices about the trade-offs that affect American interests.” He suggests that the USA publicly releases more details about its negotiating objectives for each section, similar to the European Union; releases information about proposals under consideration as long as its negotiating partners agree; and provides more details about the economic models they review in their decision making.
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Bloomberg
The Supreme Court Doesn’t Need a Hero Right Now
An op-ed by Cass Sunstein. On the Supreme Court, both conservatives and liberals admire bold, heroic figures, invoking the Constitution to strike down what they dislike most -- whether it's Obamacare, affirmative action programs, restrictions on abortion, bans on same-sex marriage or executive actions by Democratic or Republican presidents. But the U.S. has had enough of judicial heroism. As the nation debates the future membership and direction of the court, it's a good time for minimalists, who speak softly and carry a small stick.
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Bloomberg
Two Justices Pick Up Where Scalia Left Off
An op-ed by Noah Feldman. The “death of fathers,” Claudius tells Hamlet, is nature's “common theme.” That theme played out last week at the U.S. Supreme Court. In the shadow of memorial services for Justice Antonin Scalia, Justice Clarence Thomas, who is something like Scalia's jurisprudential son, stepped into the light and broke his decade-long silence during an oral argument. He did it in a classic Scalian manner, catching a government lawyer off-guard and badgering her in an intellectually interesting way about gun rights. Then Justice Elena Kagan published a Scalia-style dissent in a statutory interpretation case, the late justice’s area of special expertise.
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The Washington Post
Harvard Law School dean asks to change the school’s shield because of its ties to slavery
A committee at Harvard Law School has recommended that the shield that has long been used as a symbol should be retired, because it is the family crest of a slaveholder and does not reflect the values of the school...More than a thousand people contacted the committee with their opinions, which did not fall along predictable lines such as age, race, or political leanings, said Bruce H. Mann, the chair of the committee and Carl F. Schipper Jr. Professor of Law. The conversations they had were extraordinary, he said...Asked if the committee discussed possible alternative symbols for the law school, Mann said, “No, no, no. One problem at a time.”
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NPR
Harvard Law School’s Crest Could Fall Beneath A Wave Of Student Protest (audio)
Yesterday, the dean of Harvard Law School endorsed a recommendation to change the school's official shield because it contains the crest of Isaac Royall, a slave owner whose endowment of land helped establish the school. The recommendation came from a committee appointed by the dean, but it was also one of several demands from a student group calling itself Reclaim Harvard Law, and organization that was part of a wave of protest movements that developed on campuses across the country last fall...Student Cameron Clark tells a joke that's circulated among students of color after the tape incident...Here is Dean Marcia Sells. "The reality is many of them are things that students have been talking about for a while, so we're not, you know, looking at it from the context of we have to respond to demand. But we are looking at here are the things we have been doing."...Sarah Gitlin is a third-year student and a self-described progressive who believes in racial justice. But she thinks Reclaim is going about it the wrong way. "Instead of working with the administration, Reclaim has been fighting them, has been creating a really antagonistic environment."
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