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The New York Times
Lessons Taught: Obama’s Legacy as a Historian
Around noon on Friday, the presidency of Barack Obama will officially be history, and for months the news media has been awash in considerations of the first African-American president’s legacy. But there’s one aspect of his record that has received less attention: his legacy as a historian...Kenneth Mack
, a historian at Harvard Law School who has known Mr. Obama since they were classmates there, said that he was “the first president who has really been able to wrap the history of the civil rights movement into the fabric of American history,” while also pointedly hailing other marginalized groups’ push for inclusion in “We the people.” “It’s not just about commemorating the heroes of the past,” Mr. Mack said, “but also things Americans disagreed about, and still disagree about.”
Anti-Trump ‘alternative inauguration’ to toast president-elect’s popular vote loss
...A celebration of Trump’s defeat on the day of his inauguration seems several stages beyond fanciful. The real estate billionaire did after all pull off one of the biggest electoral surprises of modern times. Yet the progressive inhabitants of Saranac Lake are not alone in such thinking. Across the country, a growing chorus of influential voices can be heard exhorting liberals not to wallow in despondency in the wake of the Trump ascendancy, but to embrace optimism and celebrate a victory of their own...Will President Trump hear all these messages as he takes his seat in the Oval Office? Lawrence Lessig
, the Harvard law professor who made a brief bid in 2016 for the Democratic presidential nomination, predicts that Trump will ignore calls for him to show electoral humility, just as Bush did in 2001. “The Republicans are so good at the chutzpah of their claim to power – minority presidents acting as though they are dominant in the world. We have to develop a way of tamping down their arrogance – these are minority presidents who do not represent most Americans.”
Detention of Innocent Muslims Is a Horror We Can’t Forget
An op-ed by Noah Feldman.
Innocent men detained for months or years after the Sept. 11 attacks on suspicion of being Muslim got their day in the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday. The odds don’t look good. The court will probably dismiss their constitutional suit against the government officials who implemented the policies that arrested immigrants who had overstayed their visas and held them in abusive conditions until after they had been affirmatively proved innocent, and sometimes beyond. Yet this is one of those cases that deserves attention because it casts a harsh light on real-world facts that we’d rather forget. Call it the “It Can’t Happen Here” case. And remember: It can. And in 2001, it did.
The Harvard Crimson
Winthrop Faculty Dean Presses for Criminal Justice Reform
Harvard Law School professor Ronald S. Sullivan Jr.
advocated for criminal justice reform and an end to mass incarceration in a TEDx talk entitled “Justice is a decision,” arguing that wrongful convictions are widespread and often overlooked. Sullivan, who is also a Winthrop House Faculty Dean and former adviser to President Barack Obama, began the talk with stories from his personal experiences exonerating wrongfully convicted individuals in Brooklyn, N.Y. In some cases, wrongfully convicted individuals spent years in prison or died before their release, Sullivan said. In an interview Tuesday, Sullivan noted that although he considers the United States’s criminal justice system “the greatest legal system in the world, there still are very many people who fall through the cracks.”
The Chronicle of Social Change
Re-Aligning U.S. State Department Policy to Support Child Rights to Family
An op-ed by Elizabeth Bartholet and Chuck Johnson
. The current State Department has developed policies that have been disastrous for children languishing in institutions abroad. There are many millions of such children, some of them orphaned, some abandoned by or removed from their birth parents. Most of these children have no likelihood of finding a family in their country of origin. International adoption provides their best prospect for a family, and the social science shows that such adoption works extremely well for children, helping repair damage done prior to adoption and enabling children adopted at early ages to thrive. By contrast the brain and social science shows that institutions cause mental, emotional and physical damage destructive of a child’s potential.
The Washington Post
Utah voters to Chaffetz: Do your job
Rather than commit to investigating President-elect Donald Trump’s ongoing conflicts of interest and his refusal to comply with the letter of the Constitution’s emoluments clause, Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) has decided to dragoon the head of the Office of Government Ethics, who spoke out about Trump’s ethical shortcomings, to a closed-door session....Laurence Tribe
echoed that sentiment. “It’s crucial not only that the government’s chief ethics watchdog be permitted to do the vital job for which that independent officer was appointed but that the public be permitted to watch that job being done rather than having to sort, after the fact, through potentially misleading descriptions of who said what to whom at a closed meeting,” he told Right Turn.
The Washington Post
How sanctuary cities work and what might happen to them under Trump
On the campaign trail, President-elect Donald Trump promised to punish local governments that don’t comply with federal immigration authorities. In some so-called “sanctuary cities,” officials refuse to hand over illegal immigrants for deportation. ...Police and politicians in these areas say that honoring ICE detainer requirements could scare people away — they don’t want undocumented people to be afraid to contact the police if they need help. “They are relying on folks to not be afraid of the police to report crimes,” said Phil Torrey
, a lecturer at Harvard Law School who specializes in criminal and immigration law.
New rules ease consent requirements for scientists using patient specimens
Scientists spoke, the feds listened: With only two days left in office, the Obama administration on Wednesday issued new rules intended to protect people who participate in scientific research, stepping back from proposals that would have imposed significant new regulatory requirements on scientists...“This is a big win for science and therefore a big win for patients,” said bioethicist Holly Fernandez Lynch
of Harvard Law School.
The Harvard Crimson
Corporation Eyes Political Contributions in Shareholder Report
Harvard supported shareholder proposals calling on corporations to be more transparent about political contributions and internal environmental benchmarks, among other issues, according to a report on shareholder responsibility released Wednesday...An advisory committee—a 12-member panel of faculty, students, and alumni—first considers each proposal before presenting its recommendation to the Corporation committee, whose four members cast votes to determine Harvard’s position...Harvard Law School professor Howell E. Jackson
chaired the advisory committee.
The Washington Post
Republicans will not rein in Trump corruption. Can anything be done about this? Yes!
...I contacted law professor Laurence Tribe
, who has argued that under his current arrangement Trump will be in violation of the Emoluments Clause, and asked him what Democrats in Congress can do, if anything, to prod Republican leaders to exercise real oversight. Tribe emailed that their options are limited, but not nonexistent: "They can cajole and pressure and bargain and refuse to cooperate with Republicans on issues where the votes of the Democrats are needed. But there is no legal mechanism they can use to compel the congressional Republicans to perform their proper oversight role. Among the things Democrats can pressure Republicans to do, with uncertain success of course, is to share subpoena power with them on one or more joint investigative/oversight committees. They can certainly try to introduce impeachment resolutions despite their minority status in the House.
Manning’s Release Shows Path Not Taken by Snowden
An op-ed by Noah Feldman.
What makes Chelsea Manning -- whose sentence for leaking classified military and diplomatic files was commuted Tuesday by President Barack Obama -- different from Edward Snowden, who will not be pardoned for his disclosures of classified National Security Agency information? Whatever the White House may have said, it isn’t just the degree of secrecy of the leaked documents, Manning’s guilty plea or her gender transition. The most important difference is simply this: Snowden’s freedom poses a foundational threat to the U.S. systems of national security and criminal justice. Snowden won’t be pardoned because he’s demonstrated serious gaps in both realms. If he were in prison today, however, by his choice or otherwise, there’s a good chance he would have had his sentence commuted.