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Why Obama should veto 9/11 families bill
An op-ed by Jack Goldsmith & Stephen I. Vladeck
. President Obama has said he will veto the Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act, a bill that purports to make it easier for 9/11 victims and their families to sue Saudi Arabia in US federal court for its alleged role in indirectly financing the attacks. He would be absolutely right to do so. Reasonable people can disagree over whether giving the 9/11 victims their day in court justifies the diplomatic and foreign relations problems this law would provoke. (In fact, the two of us have disagreed on this issue in the past.) What should be clear to everyone, though, is that the bill Congress actually enacted last week provides virtually no benefits to justify its substantial costs.
The 5 Most Innovative Women in Food and Drink
The future of food is here, and it’s decidedly female. The editors of Food & Wine and Fortune magazines teamed up to spotlight women entrepreneurs, activists and leaders in the food world who’ve worked in the past year to transform the way people dine. Twenty earned a spot on their Most Innovative Women in Food and Drink 2016 list...Emily Broad Leib
At the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic, Leib is tackling the enormous problem of wasted food, which crowds landfills and leaves many hungry, by trying to change legislation around the way food is labeled. “We want to make labeling laws clearer, so when people pick up a yogurt, they know when it’s OK to eat it and when to throw it out,” she tells Food & Wine and Fortune. It may also make perfectly fine food easier to donate.
Detroit civil rights lawsuit attempts to assert a constitutional right to literacy
Jamarria Hall can’t stomach walking into his high school on Detroit’s east side some days. The classrooms are hot, water fountains don’t work and only 2.2% of students last year achieved college-ready scores in reading and English...A federal civil rights lawsuit filed on Tuesday aims to challenge Hall’s educational system by asserting a constitutional right to literacy, in what attorneys say is the first legal challenge of its kind in the US. The 133-page complaint says the state of Michigan has disinvested in education in Detroit so much that children lack fundamental access to literacy...Harvard constitutional law professor Laurence Tribe
, who is not involved in the litigation, said he expects the lawsuit will make history, “much as Brown v Board of Education did”. “The legal theory underlying the suit is both creative and rock-solid,” he said, “and Mark Rosenbaum’s legal team is nothing short of extraordinary.” “If you think of Brown v Board as one shoe that dropped, this is the other shoe,” he said, “because though it eliminated, technically, inferior schools for blacks, and eliminated de jure segregation, it didn’t achieve one of its basic goals. And that is a decent educational opportunity for all kids, regardless of race, regardless of class, regardless of geography. That’s become a more elusive goal.”
The intense debates surrounding Hamilton don’t diminish the musical — they enrich it
An op-ed by Annette Gordon-Reed
. By now, very few Americans remain who have not at least heard of the Broadway smash hit Hamilton
, which tells the story of America’s first secretary of the Treasury. The vast multitudes who have been unable to score a ticket to see the play have gotten to know it from the chart-topping cast album. Lyrics from the songs have become catchphrases — the determined Hamilton insisting, "I’m not throwing away my shot"; a gleeful Jefferson crowing, after Hamilton did
throw away his "shot" (his political career) by publicly confessing to adultery, "Nevah’ gon’ be president now!" That last one was perfect for the 2016 primary season, with candidates falling left and right before the Trump juggernaut...The robust debates about Hamilton
will continue as well. Despite the truly astonishing amount of good press the play has received, it has been the subject of a few strong critiques — which have been met with forceful responses. These debates, though informative, seem to me curiously and unfortunately polarized. Defenders of the play often appear to believe that critical discussion of the work must inevitably diminish Miranda’s accomplishment. That is simply not the case.
San Francisco Chronicle
Court questions whether Berkeley cell phone law goes too far
A federal appeals court questioned during a hearing Tuesday whether the city of Berkeley is unduly discouraging customers from buying cell phones by requiring retailers to warn them about the possible radiation effects of carrying switched-on phones close to their bodies...“If we interpret this (ordinance) as warning that cell phones are unsafe, I don’t see that you have defended it,” Judge Michelle Friedland told Berkeley’s lawyer, Lawrence Lessig
, a Harvard law professor...Lessig replied that the federal agency had labeled its standards as safety measures and required cell phone manufacturers to include them in their manuals with each sale, the same message that Berkeley is conveying to consumers. “The FCC has never said that cell phones are safe” in all uses, Lessig said. “We should be allowed to rely on the FCC’s judgment.”
Marcia Sells, BC ’81 and Harvard Law School dean, talks self-discovery, ‘The Wizard of Oz’ at Barnard convocation
, BC ’81 and the dean of students at Harvard Law School, emphasized the importance of self-discovery in her keynote speech at Barnard’s 127th convocation on Tuesday. Sells, who served as the dean of students at Columbia Law School before arriving at Harvard, was also the vice president for employee and organizational development at Reuters America and the assistant district attorney for the Kings County district attorney’s office. In an elaborate “The Wizard of Oz” metaphor, Sells described the many parallels she saw between Dorothy’s journey through Oz and a Barnard student’s experience at the college.
The Thin Legal Case for Affirmative Action in Contracting
An op-ed by Noah Feldman
. Affirmative action in government contracting is alive -- barely. Last week, a federal appeals court upheld a Small Business Administration program that gives advantages to people who have suffered racial discrimination, reasoning that the law as written doesn’t discriminate on the basis of race, because anyone can be the target of racial bias. The decision, which is based on paper-thin legal logic, is an attempt to keep remediation-based affirmative action from disappearing altogether. It may be too little, too late.
Shady Sex Ads May Have Some First Amendment Protection
An op-ed by Noah Feldman.
A Senate panel has called the online advertising site Backpage.com a clearinghouse for sex trafficking in minors, and has subpoenaed its policies and records. The company says it’s a canary in the coal mine for government intrusion into the editorial decisions of journalists -- and has asked the Supreme Court to block the subpoena. Chief Justice John Roberts has stayed the subpoena to read briefs from the opposing parties. When he digs into the details, he may find that both sides are at least partly right.
Berkeley’s Cellphone Warning on Shaky Ground in Ninth Circuit
High-profile appellate advocates faced off Tuesday in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in a fight over how and when local governments can force businesses to make statements about the safety of their products. Arguing on behalf of a wireless industry group, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher's Theodore Olson asked a Ninth Circuit panel to block a Berkeley law requiring retailers to warn customers against keeping cellphones too close to their bodies. Olson claims that the compelled commercial speech violates the First Amendment and, if allowed to stand, would spur the creation of a patchwork of local rules. Meanwhile, Berkeley's lawyer, Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig
, argued that the city ordinance only calls for retailers to make factual statements echoing language the Federal Communications Commission already requires manufacturers to include in cellphone use manuals...Lessig, who helped the city craft the language of the law and has signed on to defend it pro bono, pointed out that the disclosure only points to language that cellphone manufacturers themselves are required to put in user manuals. "Our position is that we are relying on a regulation of the FCC," he said. Local governments, he said, shouldn't have to fund research to retest industry-established standards in order to compel safety disclosures by industry.