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News@Law, 02/21/2017

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

Salon
Don’t think about (contagious) elephants: Whose job is it to combat and contain tuberculosis?
An article by fellow Delcianna Winders. As animal lovers mourn the death of iconic Oregon Zoo elephant Packy, who was euthanized because he carried drug-resistant tuberculosis, while also fighting against the Department of Agriculture’s recent assault on transparency, we’d be wise to consider the links between the two seemingly disparate events. Packy’s unnecessary death should be a wake-up call about elephant-borne TB, and we should honor Packy by demanding that the Department of Agriculture do its job and address this serious issue instead of protecting the industries that own — and some that exploit — these animals.
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Al Jazeera
US lawmakers target undocumented student ‘sanctuaries’
...A "sanctuary", though commonly known as a place of refuge, has no legal definition in the US. "Sanctuary cities" became a term used to describe jurisdictions that employ varying policies of lawful non-cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials. Some declared themselves sanctuaries, but not all did. After the 2016 elections, a small number of colleges, including Swarthmore, also declared themselves sanctuaries in opposition to US President Donald Trump's stance on immigration. Like sanctuary cities, these schools employ differing policies of noncompliance with ICE, experts say...Trump's executive order denying federal funding to sanctuary jurisdictions also did not clearly define a "sanctuary", which has led to further confusion and fear, says immigration expert Phil Torrey, of Harvard Law School.
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WBUR
Is Mass. Facing An Evidence Testing Problem? (audio)
An interview with Nancy Gertner. A ruling out of Concord District Court calls into question the accuracy of breathalyzer machine tests in Massachusetts and could impact 20,000 drunken-driving cases in the state. The cases occurred between June 2012 and September 2014. In a hearing decision issued last week, Judge Robert Brennan found that the state's Office of Alcohol Testing failed to prove its methodology for calibrating its breath-testing machines.
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The New York Times
Retirees in Default on Student Loans
A letter by Howell Jackson and Christopher Healy '17.  Re “Student Debt Past Age 50” (editorial, Feb. 13): As your editorial rightly laments, senior citizens are increasingly finding themselves in default on student loans. These defaults can lead to the garnishment of Social Security benefits, pushing many elderly toward poverty. The garnishment of Social Security benefits is particularly unfair to today’s retirees because until the mid-1990s Social Security benefits were fully exempt from such levies. So, for much of their working lives, many seniors could not reasonably have anticipated that their Social Security retirement benefits would become susceptible to garnishment.
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The New York Times
How Can We Get Rid of Trump?
We’re just a month into the Trump presidency, and already so many are wondering: How can we end it?...Trump still has significant political support, so the obstacles are gargantuan. But the cleanest and quickest way to remove a president involves Section 4 of the 25th Amendment and has never been attempted. It provides that the cabinet can, by a simple majority vote, strip the president of his powers and immediately hand power to the vice president. The catch is that the ousted president can object, and in that case Congress must approve the ouster by a two-thirds vote in each chamber, or the president regains office. The 25th Amendment route is to be used when a president is “unable” to carry out his duties. I asked Laurence Tribe, the Harvard professor of constitutional law, whether that could mean not just physical incapacity, but also mental instability. Or, say, the taint of having secretly colluded with Russia to steal an election? Tribe said that he believed Section 4 could be used in such a situation.
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NPR
‘#Republic’ Author Describes How Social Media Hurts Democracy (audio)
NPR's Kelly McEvers speaks to Cass Sunstein about his new book, #Republic: Divided Democracy in the Age of Social Media. He says democracy needs people to come across a variety of viewpoints, and much of social media limits that exposure.
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ThinkProgress
China violated its own law to grant Trump a trademark
When China awarded President Donald Trump a long-coveted trademark of the “Trump” brand this week, it violated its own regulations. Chinese legal standards prohibit trademarks of the names of foreign leaders. Trump secured exclusive rights for the use of his name for “building construction services” in China on February 14 after a 10-year legal battle. But he had little success in his quest for a Chinese trademark before he became the Republican nominee last summer. The apparent preferential treatment for the U.S. president could land Trump in legal trouble back at home...If China granted a trademark to Trump in violation of existing Chinese legal standards, it “would seal Trump’s fate from an emoluments clause perspective because it would show beyond doubt that this unusually valuable trademark was indeed a ‘present,’ and not simply a recognition of Mr. Trump’s preexisting rights under the law of China,” Laurence Tribe, a nationally renowned constitutional scholar and a professor of constitutional law at Harvard Law School, told ThinkProgress.
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The Harvard Crimson
Law School Clinic Files Amicus Brief Against Trump’s Immigration Order
The Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinic filed Thursday an amicus brief challenging President Donald Trump’s seven-country immigration order. A team of clinic staff, Law School students, and attorneys at New York-based firm Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom filed the brief supporting a New York lawsuit against Trump’s order, which has faced legal challenges across the country. They argue that Trump’s order violates federal immigration statutes...Nate MacKenzie '17, a Law School student who directed the team of student researchers who worked on the brief, said the clinic filed it to help the court better understand the various statutory arguments related to the suit...MacKenzie said he worked closely with Phil Torrey, a clinical instructor at the Law School, and Sabi Ardalan, the assistant director of HIRC, along with four student research teams, to send memos to the law firm, which turned the research into the formal brief submitted to the court.
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Atlanta Black Star
Can Anyone Hear My Plea? Race, Criminal Justice and the 97 Percent Who Never Got Their Day In Court
Of all the compelling information, interviews and realities contained in Ava Duvernay’s riveting, Oscar-nominated documentary on mass incarceration, “13th”, one particular statistic stands out: A startling 97 percent of those incarcerated never received their day in court. “That’s not something anyone should take lightly,” says Professor Robert Proctor, a criminal defense attorney and clinical instructor in Harvard Law School’s Criminal Justice Institute. Proctor believes our current court system relies far too much on the practice of plea bargaining, a negotiated agreement between a prosecutor and defendant where the latter agrees to plead guilty in exchange for reduced consequences.
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Minnesota Journal of Law, Science, & Technology
Something To Chew On: The FDA, Food, And A Healthy Dose Of Definitions
An article by Tommy Tobin '16.. Is food medicine? The answer to this simple question is surprisingly complicated.The name of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) seems to distinguish between foods and drugs. So too does the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act, which helpfully defines “food” as “(1) articles used for food or drink for man or other animals, (2) chewing gum, and (3) articles used for components of any such article.”...Knowing whether an item is a drug or a food dictates whether it is regulated appropriately and even which laws apply to the item. From the definitions, it would seem that foods are categorically not drugs. Yet, sometimes foods do function as medicine. For example, the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic argues that “for critically and chronically ill people, food is medicine.”
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The Washington Post
For decades they hid Jefferson’s relationship with her. Now Monticello is making room for Sally Hemings.
The room where historians believe Sally Hemings slept was just steps away from Thomas Jefferson’s bedroom. But in 1941, the caretakers of Monticello turned it into a restroom...Time, and perhaps shame, erased all physical evidence of her presence at Jefferson’s home here, a building so famous that it is depicted on the back of the nickel...“You’re in the home of the person who wrote the Declaration of Independence, who criticized slavery but was a slaveholder,” said Harvard law professor Annette Gordon-Reed, author of “The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family.” The story of Monticello is at its core “about the complicated nature of America’s founding,” she said.
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Bloomberg
Why the White House Is Leakier Than Trump Tower
An op-ed by Noah Feldman. President Donald Trump has threatened to prosecute leakers and bring in an outsider to review the intelligence agencies after reading unfavorable stories about his administration day after day in the news media. But he’s learning the hard way that there isn’t much he can do to stop government leaks. That may surprise Trump, because in the private sector, the tools to stop leaking are generally pretty effective. It’s an anomaly of the legal system that in government, where the stakes are arguably higher than in business, it’s easier to get away with leaking.
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CoinDesk
Rebranding The DAO: The Contentious Blockchain Concept is Back
It looks like we haven't seen the last of leaderless blockchain-based companies. Despite the spectacular demise of The DAO, developers are still excited about the concept of one day creating decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), automated companies operated by hard-coded rules enforced on a blockchain...Outside of a rebranding effort, however, there is a recognition that the concept itself might need iteration. "It needs some more work," Berkman Center for Internet & Society at Harvard University research fellow Primavera de Filippi told CoinDesk. "The DAO showed that we cannot assume that the system will work as we expected it to work.”
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Mother Jones
Does Donald Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee Believe the Constitution Is God’s Law?
During his confirmation hearings, scheduled to begin March 20, Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch will face a thorough grilling about his legal philosophy. Among the topics likely to come up are his views on “natural law” and his relationship with John Finnis, the Oxford University professor who advised Gorsuch on his Ph.D. thesis and one […]
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Bloomberg
Anti-Terror Move Could Ensnare American Muslims
An op-ed by Noah Feldman. President Donald Trump’s executive order on immigration that targeted Muslim countries, now halted by federal judicial order, was worrying enough. But another executive action has been floated that would be far more devastating for Muslim individuals and organizations in the U.S.: a directive to the State Department to designate the Muslim Brotherhood as an international terrorist organization. When coupled with a U.S. Supreme Court decision from 2010, the designation could lead to widespread prosecution of American Muslims and others for material support of terrorism -- a disaster for civil liberties and free speech that could dwarf the Trump administration’s early initiatives.
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