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News@Law, 10/12/2016

News@Law is a selection of the day's news clips regarding Harvard Law School.
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Today's News

Bloomberg
South African Toxic Mine Dumps Fail Citizens, Harvard Body Says
South Africa is failing to uphold citizens’ human rights by allowing toxic waste from huge mine dumps in and around Johannesburg to seep into rivers, according to Harvard Law School’s International Human Rights Clinic. The government hasn’t done enough to mitigate the impact of contaminated water from abandoned mines and dust storms from radioactive waste dumps, the IHRC said in an e-mailed statement Wednesday. While a long-term plan announced in May to spend 12 billion rand ($843 million) cleaning water from mines is a positive, it came more than a decade after polluted water began seeping out west of Johannesburg, the clinic said.
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The Boston Globe
Chicago court’s Uber decision may hurt Boston taxi companies
As cab companies in Boston and Cambridge push a legal effort to have Uber drivers held to the same rules as taxis, a similar case in Chicago has run into a judicial roadblock. A federal appeals court in Illinois ruled last week that Chicago can subject ride-hailing services such as Uber and Lyft to different regulations than taxis. Even though the services look similar, Judge Richard Posner of the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit wrote there are enough differences to warrant different rules. For explanation, Posner used the example of pet licenses that municipalities issue...The Chicago decision doesn’t set a precedent for the Massachusetts cases, but it could influence their outcome, according to legal experts. For example, without precedent from their own First Circuit Court of Appeals, judges in Boston may naturally look to the Chicago decision for guidance, said Harvard Law School professor Bruce Hay. “The Seventh Circuit is an indicator, not a conclusive indicator but a persuasive indicator,” of how judges here “would view the case,” he said.
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Environment & Energy News
Obama mentor-turned-foe Larry Tribe sought White House gig (subscription)
Before Harvard Law professor Laurence Tribe went to war with the Obama administration in court, he wanted a job as a top White House lawyer, new leaked emails reveal. The legal heavyweight and former mentor to President Obama has gained notoriety in some liberal and environmental circles for representing the coal industry in a lawsuit attacking President Obama's signature climate change policy. That might have turned out differently if Obama had given him one of the administration jobs he asked for back in 2008...Asked about his 2008 emails, Tribe said today in an interview, "I wanted to be helpful to the administration, and it turned out that the position that made the most sense both to the president and the attorney general ... was as the first senior counselor to access to justice." He said he was glad he had held that job and wasn't afraid then to speak up when his views conflicted with administration policies. "I didn't always agree with the legal initiatives that the president was taking," he said.
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The Boston Globe
Four Mass. churches sue over new transgender law
Four Massachusetts churches contend in a federal lawsuit that a new state law could force them to allow transgender people to use the church bathrooms, changing rooms, and shower facilities of their choice, violating the plaintiffs’ constitutional right to freely practice their religion...Joseph Singer, a professor at Harvard Law School, said the suit presents “a really interesting, hard issue.” Churches that hold spaghetti dinners may be thinking about converting members of the public, “but if they really are inviting anyone in the public to come in, without any religious test, then it looks like it’s not really a religious thing. “The courts then have to figure out,” he continued, “how do they draw a line between what seems more secular-oriented, open to the public ... versus having something that’s more central to their religious mission.”
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Bloomberg
U.S. Lawyers Fret as the Saudis Bomb
An op-ed by Noah Feldman. A Saudi airstrike that destroyed a funeral hall and killed 140 people Saturday in Yemen is a scenario U.S. lawyers have been worried about under international law. Documents obtained by Reuters reveal that State Department lawyers were concerned that arms sales to the Saudis might make the U.S. liable for war crimes the Saudis might commit. The U.S. hasn’t been giving targets to the Saudis but, problematically, it has provided a no-strike list including critical infrastructure. In effect, that may make the U.S. complicit in targeting decisions like the one that tragically hit the funeral hall. Worse, the U.S. has been refueling Saudi warplanes for strikes in Yemen.
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The Harvard Crimson
HLS Graduate Explores Discriminatory History Of Popularly Cited Legal Terms
Kendra K. Albert, an affiliate of Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society, urged audience members at a Harvard Law School event Tuesday to examine critically the use of legal terminology in casual settings outside the court of law. Albert defined these “legal talismans” as “a legal term of art, out of place, invoked to make or justify substantive decisions that do not involve formal legal processes.” Albert, a 2016 Law School graduate, cited free speech and defamation as two examples of terms that individuals and organizations frequently cite outside legal contexts to defend their non-legal decisions. They added that the use of "legal talismans" leads individuals to lose sight of the often discriminatory history of the laws they are casually referencing. “Defamation’s gorgeous traditional design hides deeply sexist, racist, and whorephobic, which means ‘anti-sex worker,’ connotations,” Albert said.
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