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News@Law, 12/22/2016

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

The Huffington Post
Death (Penalty) Be Not Proud
In the last twenty years, capital punishment has fallen out of favor in the United States. Death sentences have dropped from 315 a year in the mid-1990s to 49 in 2015. Executions have declined from 98 in 1999 to 28 in 2015. The number of states with the death penalty has fallen to 31. And polls indicate that opposition to capital punishment (fueled in part by DNA evidence of wrongful convictions, a dramatic drop in crime rates, and the isolation of the United States among western democracies in retaining the death penalty) is rising. Carol Steiker (a professor of law at Harvard University) and Jordan Steiker (a professor of law at the University of Texas) believe that the death penalty deserves to die. In Courting Death, the authors trace the judicial history of capital punishment, starting with the Supreme Court’s declaration that the death penalty is capricious and arbitrary in Furman v. Georgia in 1972, and its decision to lift its de facto moratorium four years later in Gregg v. Georgia. And the Steikers deliver an extraordinarily well-documented, forceful and ferocious assault on state and federal administration of capital punishment since then. Courting Death is, almost certainly, the best book on this subject.
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Public Companies’ Unelected Directors
An op-ed by Hal Scott. Under the Trump Administration we can expect that there will be many changes at the Securities and Exchange Commission. One important area that has gone largely ignored and is ripe for reform is the system of “unelected directors” for public companies. The Committee on Capital Markets Regulation—a policy group with executives from across the financial sector and leading academics—recently studied how boards of directors of public companies respond to unfavorable votes by their shareholders. The Committee’s startling discovery is that, in 85% of cases where a director does not receive a majority of shareholder votes, the director will continue to serve on the board for at least two more years.
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Dusting Off the Constitution’s Obscure Clauses
An op-ed by Noah Feldman. This became the year of the obscure, unlitigated constitutional clause. The First and 14th Amendments usually hog all the glory, and each did get a few big moments over the last year. But much more important were ignored and unheralded provisions like the "advice and consent" clause, the Electoral College clauses, and most improbably, the emoluments clause, which since the election has featured prominently as one of the only defenses against conflicts of interest in the Trump White House.
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Clinton aides kept tabs on anti-Trump elector gambit
Hillary Clinton’s top advisers never publicly backed an effort by Democrats on the Electoral College to block Donald Trump’s election. When it failed on Monday, one aide mocked it as an unserious “coup” attempt. But a batch of correspondence obtained by POLITICO shows members of Clinton’s inner circle — including senior aides Jake Sullivan and Jennifer Palmieri — were in touch for weeks with one of the effort’s organizers as they mounted their ill-fated strategy. And despite repeated requests for guidance, Clinton’s team did not wave them off...Lawrence Lessig, a Harvard University constitutional law professor deeply involved in recruiting Republicans to rebel against Trump, said he sensed a Clinton team that was undecided about “to what extent they should be encouraging this.” “I imagine that in the end, nobody was sure they could survive the political blowback if you became president because you flipped the college,” he said.
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‘Rogue One’ Is Vintage Star Wars: Freudian, Faith-Based and Unplanned
An op-ed by Cass Sunstein. Well, no one saw that coming. “Rogue One,” the new stand-alone Star Wars movie, is the best since the beloved original trilogy. With a new tale, it’s much better, and far fresher, than last year’s fun but nostalgic “The Force Awakens.” The surprise is fitting, for here’s a little secret about Star Wars: Its narrative arc wasn’t fully planned out in advance. Some of the most important plot points came to George Lucas, author of the first six episodes, awfully late. At the early stages, he had no clue that Darth Vader would turn out to be Luke Skywalker’s father. And Luke and Leia as twins? That was a late inspiration -- an ingenious (if also creepy) way of resolving the romantic triangle involving Luke, Leia and Han.
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