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The Huffington Post
Exxon Tries To Bury Climate Documents By Claiming First Amendment Rights
ExxonMobil is fighting a subpoena seeking its internal documents on climate change, arguing that the order violates the company’s constitutional rights. It’s an argument that legal experts say is unusual but not unprecedented...Exxon’s invocation of the First Amendment is fairly unusual for a business, according to John Coates,
a professor of law and economics at Harvard Law School. The Supreme Court has ruled that corporations do have First Amendment rights, but they aren’t necessarily as broad as those afforded to individuals. “Even the most right-wing and pro-business judge would not equate the speech rights of a business to that of individuals,” he said.
Did Reed v. Town of Gilbert Silence Commercial Speech Doctrine? Early Signs Point to No
An article by Robert Niles JD/MBA ’17. Niles is the winner of the 2016 Bloomberg Law Write-On Competition for U.S. Law Week.
Last Term, the U.S. Supreme Court decided a First Amendment case that might have quietly rewritten free speech doctrine. Reed v. Town of Gilbert, 83 U.S.L.W. 4444, 2015 BL 193925 (U.S. June 18, 2015), involved a small, itinerant church's challenge to the Town of Gilbert's comically ornate sign code, which had vastly different size and timing requirements for religious, political and directional signs. The justices all agreed that the fine-grained distinctions the sign code drew did not pass muster under the First Amendment. Justice Elena Kagan, concurring in the judgment, argued that the town's failure to provide “any sensible basis” for the sign code's distinctions would not even pass the “laugh test.”
A Rabbi’s Struggle for Religious Middle Ground
An op-ed by Noah Feldman.
Rabbi Ben-Zion Gold, a survivor of the Holocaust and director of the Harvard Hillel for some 30 years, has died at 93. His eulogists will emphasize his sociological contribution: Under his guidance, Jewish life became a sanctioned part of a flagship university campus where its presence had previously been tenuous. But what makes Gold’s life most distinctive, and his passing so noteworthy, is his complex connection to the lost world of the pre-war European yeshivas and the way he tried to reconfigure his religious worldview after the Holocaust made him lose his traditional faith in a personal God.
Massachusetts’ Battle over “Cage Free” Eggs (audio)
In November, voters in Massachusetts will be asked whether the state should ban the sale of eggs, pork products or veal from animals that are too tightly confined within cages. If the ballot measure passes it would have far reaching consequences for the egg industry both in Massachusetts and several other states. It would also mark a big win for the cagefree egg movement. But are cagefree eggs really more humane for animals or healthier for humans? We hear more from environmental journalist Zack Colman, and Chris Green
, Executive Director of the Animal Law and Policy Program at Harvard Law School.
WBUR Radio Boston
What Does Welch v. U.S. SCOTUS Decision Mean For Mandatory Minimums? (audio)
A new U.S. Supreme Court ruling could mean that hundreds of people convicted of violent felonies — including some in Massachusetts federal court — will be re-sentenced. The 7-1 vote involves the case Welch v. United States. The justices ruled that a decision in a previous case about federal sentencing will apply to those who’ve already been sentenced or those whose cases are closed. Former Massachusetts federal Judge Nancy Gertner
says the ruling shows that the justices are chipping away at mandatory minimum sentencing.
Whistle-Blowers, Health Care and U.S. Law
An op-ed by Noah Feldman.
How should the government police the health-care industry? That question is before the Supreme Court on Tuesday as the justices hear arguments in an important case about the False Claims Act. Under the law as interpreted in most of the country, any time a health-care provider submits a bill to the government -- which is to say, millions of times a day -- the provider can be sued for a false claim if it’s failed to follow any of the myriad state and federal regulations governing the field. The law is meant to encourage citizens to blow the whistle on fraud, so it lets anyone bring a claim with the promise of receiving statutory damages up to three times the cost of the violation.
Could tiny houses make it big with Staten Islanders looking to get away?
...Capitalizing on the tiny house craze -- popular in the Midwest and more rural areas of the country -- two Harvard students, Pete Davis,
26 and Jon Staff, 28, are bringing Harvard Tiny Houses, which are mini rustic houses, to New York City dwellers as vacation rentals under the company name of "Getaway."..."We think of ourselves less as a hotel company and more as a wellness company. ...We sometimes call ourselves an anti-vacation company because a vacation is usually a lot of money, and when you get there you're stressed out because you're sightseeing and this or that fell through," said Davis, who is a student at Harvard Law School. "This is for people over stressed at work, too hooked into their cell phones with the (e-mail) inbox overflowing. The whole idea is 'Let's get you out into nature to just relax,'" he added.
Why We Are Addicted to Divisive Politics
An article by Daniel Shapiro, affiliated faculty, Program on Negotiation.
While the extremity of the current political rhetoric may feel unprecedented, the emotional undercurrents are common across high-stakes conflicts. If we have any hope of restoring a functional political system that serves the vision of an American family, we must first understand these hidden forces.
Sticking It to the Tax Man Still Has a Price
An op-ed by Noah Feldman.
Ever wanted to sue the tax man? Usually you can’t -- but Gilbert Hyatt found a loophole, and the Supreme Court gave him a symbolic victory Tuesday while depriving him of most actual damages. Acting out the fantasies of anyone who’s ever been audited, Hyatt sued the California tax authorities in a Nevada court and won a jury verdict of $388 million, later reduced to $1 million. The high court justices split 4-4 on whether his suit should’ve been permitted at all -- a tie that allowed Hyatt’s moral victory to stand. But then they said the Constitution restricted his damages to $50,000, the maximum he could have gotten if he had sued a Nevada official in Nevada court.
The National Law Journal
Harvard Law-Student Activists Demand Free Tuition
A group of student activists at Harvard Law School is calling for an end to tuition. Reclaim Harvard, which has been pushing for greater diversity and inclusion at the elite law school, argues that the cost of attendance unfairly impacts minority students because they typically have less family wealth...While administrators are “deeply committed to expanding access to a Harvard Law School education for the best students regardless of their backgrounds, and to providing aid to those who need it,” eliminating tuition is unsustainable, said law school spokesman Robb London
in a written response to Reclaim Harvard’s latest demand...But a free education “is a matter of justice,” Reclaim Harvard argues.