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The New York Times
An Antidote to Donald Trump’s Secrecy on Taxes
President-elect Donald Trump refused to release his tax returns during the campaign and there is no sign that he will, ever. He broke longstanding tradition and set a terrible precedent for future presidential candidates. Good government groups have been wringing their hands about what to do. Now comes an excellent idea from a New York State senator, Brad Hoylman, a Democrat from Manhattan, that would could force candidates to disclose their tax returns by making it a requirement for getting on the ballot...As drafted, the bill should withstand constitutional scrutiny, said Laurence Tribe
, a constitutional law scholar at Harvard. “Ballot access requirements vary significantly from state to state, and it seems that N.Y. might be able to simply add tax disclosure as a procedural ballot access requirement,” he wrote in an email.
The New York Times
How ‘Islands of Honesty’ Can Crush a System of Corruption
For over a year, a global mystery has been growing: Why are so many governments around the world collapsing amid corruption scandals? Attention is now focused on South Korea, where the Parliament voted Friday to impeach President Park Geun-hye...“The normal institutions of justice — the courts, the prosecutors, the auditors, the ombudsmen, you name it — are themselves so thoroughly corrupted that you can steal with impunity,” said Matthew C. Stephenson
, a professor at Harvard Law School who studies corruption. That batters public trust, and strengthens the perception that corruption is universal and unavoidable.
Three Challenges Aim to Give Rights to Fetuses
An op-ed by Noah Feldman.
Last week, the Ohio legislature passed a law banning abortion after the first fetal heartbeat can be heard. Texas enacted rules requiring that aborted fetuses be buried or cremated. And in Louisiana, a private trust purporting to act on behalf of 5-day-old frozen embryos sued the actress Sofia Vergara demanding that they be implanted in a uterus so they could be born. All three developments are legally questionable, to say the least. The Ohio bill is clearly unconstitutional, the Texas law may be, and the Louisiana lawsuit would cause upheaval in the assisted reproduction community should it succeed. Yet all three signal the durability of the idea that the unborn have legal rights -- a position the U.S. Supreme Court has never adopted.
Sanctuary cities stand firm against Trump
At least three dozen so-called sanctuary cities across the country are standing firm against President-elect Donald Trump’s pledge to crack down on them, according to a Politico analysis...Phil Torrey
, a lecturer at Harvard Law School and the supervising attorney of the Harvard Immigration Project, explained that the Tenth Amendment gives broad powers to the states that include the ability to set policy agendas for local law enforcement, while it gives broad powers to the federal government to decide how to tax and spend dollars. The Supreme Court comes in when these powers collide, and the court has established precedent that the federal government cannot be overly coercive, Torrey said.
Lawrence Lessig Offers Free Legal Aid To Anti-Trump Electors (audio)
Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig
will support members of the Electoral College who don't cast their vote the president-elect. NPR's Scott Simon asks him why he's decided to take up this cause..."What we're trying to do is to give counsel to electors who are trying to exercise what the constitution gives them the right to exercise, which is, as Justice Jackson said, independent, nonpartisan judgment when they decide who to elect and who to vote for."
The Washington Post
Trump says China is not a market economy. Here’s why this is a big deal.
Way back in 2001, in China’s view, the United States promised it would treat the Asian country as a “market economy” starting in December 2016. President-elect Donald Trump indicated on Dec. 8 that “China is not a market economy,” and the issue could escalate already-tense trade relations between Beijing and Washington...Many others, including the U.S. government, argue that China’s economic transformation has not gone far enough. Mark Wu
, a Harvard law professor, describes how a “China Inc.” has emerged. The Chinese government and the Communist Party have made strategic adjustments but remain actively involved in banking, energy and raw materials — and this allows them to implicitly subsidize other sectors of the economy.
There’s One Main Job Requirement to Lead a Federal Agency
An op-ed by Cass Sunstein
. Presidents should generally be allowed to choose their own employees. Unless nominees fall below reasonable standards for honesty and competence, senators should vote to confirm them, even if they disagree intensely with their views. Obstructionism makes it hard for the executive branch to function; it also discourages good people from entering public service. But that doesn't mean the Senate should give a blank check to Donald Trump. Senators should not confirm nominees who reject the mission of the very department they seek to lead.
Facebook co-founder’s new $10 million initiative to test if cash handouts will help fix America
Facebook Co-Founder Chris Hughes, Harvard Law School and Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society Professor Yochai Benkler
, Black Lives Matter co-founder Alicia Garza and Alaska State Senator Bill Wielechowski may not agree on everything, but they agree on this: Cash handouts have the potential to help Americans and the American economy. Given the challenges posed by automation and globalization, which are replacing workers and leading to stagnating wages, direct payments to workers may, in fact, be the only solution.
The Wall Street Journal
Randall Kennedy on ‘The Framers’ Coup’
A desire to learn more about three subjects led me to read the five new books I most enjoyed this year. In this moment of high anxiety about the state of American politics one can receive useful perspective by studying Michael Klarman
’s magisterial “The Framers’ Coup: The Making of the United States Constitution.”
The New York Times
The Dangers of Echo Chambers on Campus
After Donald Trump’s election, some universities echoed with primal howls. Faculty members canceled classes for weeping, terrified students who asked: How could this possibly be happening? I share apprehensions about President-elect Trump, but I also fear the reaction was evidence of how insular universities have become...Whatever our politics, inhabiting a bubble makes us more shrill. Cass Sunstein
, a Harvard professor, conducted a fascinating study of how groupthink shapes federal judges when they are randomly assigned to three-judge panels...The weakest argument against intellectual diversity is that conservatives or evangelicals have nothing to add to the conversation. “The idea that conservative ideas are dumb is so preposterous that you have to live in an echo chamber to think of it,” Sunstein told me.
Does Trump’s Muslim registry violate Constitution?
On Jan. 20, 2017, the following words are likely to be uttered, "I, Donald J. Trump, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."...And two prominent Constitutional Law professors told me that a Muslim registry would violate that amendment. According to my interview with Laurence Tribe
, Carl M. Loeb University professor and professor of constitutional law at Harvard Law School, implementing a Muslim registry would violate the First Amendment. What's more, Mr. Tribe believes that Mr. Trump would violate the First Amendment whether he signed a law sent to him by Congress that created a Muslim registry or implemented one through an executive order. And Mr. Tribe believes that Congress and/or the courts would have the power to stop such an executive order if Mr. Trump issued it.
The Harvard Crimson
Turning the Page
Hidden amid the labyrinthine stacks in the basement of Widener Library, more than a dozen machines slowly transform books and artifacts into digital files available for download. Librarians stand next to the hulking machines for hours, painstakingly scanning more than 7,000 pages every day. They take care not to damage the delicate binding of the original books. This process—digitizing library collections—occurs across the Harvard Library System, which includes 79 libraries...“If there are stakeholders who want all of the stuff online, Harvard is not really inclined to put its own money to that enterprise. What you want to do is to find money outside of Harvard, and then you’re good to go,” said Stephen Chapman
, manager of digital strategy for Collections at the Harvard Law School library...At Harvard Law School, librarians are digitizing 40 million pages of court decisions after Ravel Law, a startup that posts legal documents online, provided the funding. The project, called Caselaw Access Project, will make United States case law available on Ravel’s website.
Judge on Trump’s Short List Rules for Middle Schoolers
An op-ed by Noah Feldman.
Here’s a surprising headline you could have written this week: “Judge on Trump’s Supreme Court List Allows Gay-Straight Alliance in Middle Schools.” Yet remarkably, it’s true. Judge William Pryor wrote an appellate opinion holding that Florida middle schools (grades 6-8) offer “secondary” education, and are therefore bound by a federal law that requires them to allow equal access to all extracurricular groups, including GSAs.