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Why the US Chamber of Commerce is fighting transparency
It has recently come to light that U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue, along with the presidents of the Business Roundtable and the National Association of Manufacturers, sent a letter last fall to their member corporations urging them to resist efforts aimed at encouraging corporations to make their political, or lobbying and election spending (including donations to trade associations like the Chamber), more transparent. ...But beyond mere rank hypocrisy, there is ample evidence to suggest that the Chamber's opposition to corporate political spending transparency is also bad for its corporate members. Harvard professor John Coates
shows that companies that engage in lobbying and campaign spending have less robust corporate governance practices (like shareholder engagement with the board and proxy access) which may impact shareholder value, than do companies that don't play in politics.
Fla. Tribe Says Suit Over $1.4B Trust Belongs In State Court
The Seminole Tribe of Florida urged a district court Friday to remand to state court a lawsuit accusing Wells Fargo of mismanaging a $1.4 billion trust, saying that its breach of trust claims do not belong in federal court. ... Moreover, the minor beneficiaries would not normally be understood by trust lawyers as the purchasers or sellers of securities held in trust, Harvard Law Professor Robert Sitkoff
said. The experts’ opinions show that precluding the lawsuit under SLUSA would have far-reaching consequences such as enabling trustees to misappropriate trust property “with impunity,” insulating trustees from fiduciary accountability and sacrificing “portfolio efficiency” by removing several asset classes as potential investments, the tribe said.
New York Times
Thomas Jefferson, Neither God nor Devil
Thomas Jefferson has long been a lightning rod, but the past year has been tougher on him than usual. Protesters on college campuses have plastered Jefferson statues with Post-it notes reading “racist” and “rapist.” And on Broadway, the musical “Hamilton” has deliciously skewered him as a flamboyantly scheming hypocrite. Still, on a recent afternoon, there was America’s third president, standing serenely on his pedestal in front of the Columbia School of Journalism, flanked by Annette Gordon-Reed
and S. Onuf, the authors of the latest book to plumb the mysteries of his character. ... Ms. Gordon-Reed, a professor of history and law at Harvard and the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book “The Hemingses of Monticello,”seconded the point. “People read history the way we watch movies, where you have a good guy and a bad guy,” she said. “What’s the point of even going to the library to do research if you already know what you think?"
Protesters Disrupt Law School Event, Raising Security Concerns
Housing rights advocates interrupted an event featuring Federal Housing Finance Agency Director Melvin Watt at the Law School Monday evening to protest Watt’s housing finance policies, prematurely ending the event and prompting questions about security protocol at the school. The event, organized by Law School professor Hal S. Scott
, was intended to be a “fire-side chat” about federal housing policy. Scott said he heard beforehand that activists might protest, and as a result, Harvard University Police Department assigned two plainclothes officers to the event at the request of Law School administrators.
Sorry, Republicans: Ending Obama’s Climate Rules Is Harder Than It Looks
An op-ed by Cass Sunstein:
Predicting the experience of his successor General Dwight Eisenhower, President Harry Truman said this: “He’ll sit here, and he’ll say, ‘Do this! Do that!’ And nothing will happen. Poor Ike -- it won’t be a bit like the Army. He’ll find it very frustrating.” Donald Trump and Ted Cruz have promised to get rid of a whole host of executive actions from the Barack Obama administration. (If the Republican convention produces a different nominee, expect similar promises.) But there’s good reason to doubt how much would happen if one of them wins. The principal reason is simple: the law.
The Importance of Food Policy Councils
Emily Broad Leib
is the co-founder and director of Harvard’s Food Law and Policy Clinic. The clinic pairs Harvard law students with nonprofits and government agencies working to increase access to healthy food and assist farmers engaged in sustainable agriculture.Emily’s work began in Mississippi, which has one of the highest rates of poverty and obesity in the country. While a fellow in the Mississippi Delta, Emily worked on simplifying and clarifying laws that prevented small-scale farmers from selling their produce in farmers’ markets and helped start the Mississippi Food Policy Council. I spoke with her about food-policy councils, small farmers, food waste, and using food as a lens for understanding a community’s wider health problems.
Mass. Supreme Judicial Court Roundup
The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts heard arguments Tuesday on three major cases. Judge Nancy Gertner
joins us to analyze their impact. We first delve into the use of mandatory minimums in drug sentencing. The case centers around a 1996 state law that the lawyers for the defendant say gives judges discretion to sentence outside of mandatory minimums. However, the Middlesex County District Attorney disagrees. The second looks at the Shrine of Our Lady of La Salette in Attleboro. The shrine sits on almost 200 acres of land and attracts thousands of visitors each year, especially during the Christmas season with its “Festival of Lights.” In 2012, the Shrine received a tax bill from the town, but the case argues religious organizations should be tax exempt.
Time for a National ‘Pee-In’ Movement?
An op-ed co-written by Professor Bruce Hay and Harvard University Researcher Mischa Haider:
Bathroom predators stalking our wives. Cross-dressing perverts out for our daughters. Shoes and ships and sealing wax, and cabbages and kings. The absurd, mendacious claims made by proponents of legal segregation of transgender peo.ple, most recently in the vicious laws enacted in North Carolina and Mississippi, bring to mind the Walrus — the Lewis Carroll character who wished to talk of many things, such as whether pigs have wings. With his nonsensical words, theatrically uttered as he sets the table, he distracts his attentive audience of oysters from their impending doom on his plate.
Harvard Law Record
“Post-Postergate” Reflections: I may be wrong, but I have something to say
An op-ed by Tyra J. Walker ’18:
In response to the thoughtful and candid article posted by Michael Shammas, I would like to contribute to a debate which I have been hesitant to partake in for fear that I might be wrong—and that someone, somewhere was bound to disagree with me. I’ve found myself in an interesting place as a black, female, first-generation law student in the middle of the so-called “Postergate” controversy. There’s much that I am still processing in regards to the flurry of activity from the last few days, but there are a few things I know, and wish to share:
Jury Room Racism Is Protected. It Shouldn’t Be.
An op-ed by Noah Feldman:
Law and tradition say that a jury verdict shouldn't be overturned on the basis of something jurors say in their deliberations, no matter how ignorant or offensive. But what if there’s strong evidence that the jury deliberations were racially biased? Does the defendant’s right to a fair trial supersede the tradition of letting the verdict stand? The Supreme Court has agreed to hear this fascinating question in a sexual assault case where one juror, a former cop, told the others that Mexican men "do whatever they want" with women.
Clive McFarlane: Prosecutors too often get a pass
The New England Center for Investigative Reporting earlier this week published an article detailing the many instances in which Massachusetts prosecutors “have violated defendants’ rights to a fair trial regularly and without punishment.” These violations, according to NECIR, range from prosecutors failing to turn over important evidence to defense lawyers or to disclose information bearing negatively on witness credibility, to prosecutors misrepresenting evidence in their closing statements to the court. ... Nancy Gertner
, a retired federal judge and a professor at Harvard Law School, said in an email that prosecutors can be held responsible for misconduct in-house through “demotion, suspension, censure." They can also be held accountable from the “outside, i.e. through the ethical rules governing counsel.”