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The need to talk about race
For the past 30 years, lawyer and social activist Bryan Stevenson ’85 has battled through the courts, defending wrongly convicted death-row prisoners and children prosecuted as adults, while condemning mass incarceration, excessive sentences, and racial bias in the criminal justice system...Delivering the 2017 Tanner Lecture on Human Values on Wednesday, Stevenson announced a planned memorial to honor more than 4,000 victims of lynching in the U.S. and a museum that traces the country’s history of racial inequality from enslavement to mass incarceration...Afterward, Homi K. Bhabha, director of the Humanities Center, led a panel discussion on the issues of mass incarceration, racial injustice, and the death penalty. Among the panelists were Nancy Gertner
, senior lecturer on law at the Law School and a retired U.S. district judge; Tommie Shelby, Caldwell Titcomb Professor in the Department of African and African American Studies and the Department of Philosophy, and Carol S. Steiker
, Henry J. Friendly Professor of Law at the Law School. Reflecting on her years on the bench, Gertner criticized mandatory minimum sentencing, a legal trend that was a product of the war on drugs that led to the surge in the number of African-Americans in the federal prison population...Steiker spoke about the history of the death penalty in the United States and talked about its racial basis. The United States is the only Western democracy that uses capital punishment, she said, and is a leader internationally in doing so.
The National Law Journal
Shut Out: SCOTUS Law Clerks Still Mostly White and Male
A year as a U.S. Supreme Court law clerk is a priceless ticket to the upper echelons of the legal profession. Former clerks have their pick of top-tier job offers and can command $350,000 hiring bonuses at law firms...But amid the luster of being a law clerk, there’s an uncomfortable reality: It is an elite club still dominated by white men...And yet, most justices appear to be taking a passive approach to diversity rather than actively seeking minority clerks or pushing their networks to identify more diverse candidates. “I’ve never had that precise conversation with any justice,” said Harvard Law School professor Richard Lazarus
, a comment echoed by several other clerk-recommenders interviewed for this story...Another trend that helps explain the lack of diversity is what Harvard Law School professor Andrew Crespo
called “ideological sorting” in the clerk hiring process. Crespo, who in 2007 was elected the first Latino editor of Harvard Law Review, clerked for Breyer and Kagan. “The more liberal justices tend to hire a greater number of liberal-leaning clerks than the conservative justices, and vice versa,” Crespo said. “If the small number of African-American and Latino applicants are also disproportionately liberal, then there may be fewer clerkship slots for which they are realistically competitive candidates.”
Flynn’s Guilty Plea Doesn’t Necessarily Spell End of Mueller’s Collusion Investigation
An op-ed by Ryan Goodman and Alex Whiting
. When it comes to assessing the state of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, it is impossible to know for certain what is going on. Even the most experienced experts and closest observers are ultimately reduced to some measure of conjecture as they predict various outcomes. For this reason, you should be wary of anyone who claims to know for sure. Andy McCarthy’s assertion that the Flynn guilty plea shows “the collusion probe is over” is, in that respect, overdrawn. It may very well prove true that at the end of the day, Mueller fails to establish a criminal case involving collusion. McCarthy’s conclusion about the Flynn plea, however, infers too much from the available facts and fails to account for significant, inconsistent information.
Sanofi scandal in the Philippines could spread dangerous mistrust of vaccines
In an era when too many people remain suspicious of vaccines, one of the world’s largest manufacturers may have made matters worse while trying to control dengue fever. For the past two weeks, Sanofi has been engulfed by scandal in the Philippines after disclosing that its Dengvaxia vaccine could worsen — rather than prevent — future cases of the mosquito-borne virus in people who had not previously been infected. About 830,000 children in the Philippines were vaccinated; now the government is demanding a $59 million refund and probing whether the vaccine was approved improperly...And to restore confidence in vaccines, a reckoning is required. “At a time when convincing people to be vaccinated has encountered increasing resistance, it’s really unfortunate to have this story emerge,” said Glenn Cohen
, a Harvard Law School professor who is an expert in health law and bioethics. “The company owes a full accounting of what it knew and when.”
The Harvard Crimson
Law School Student Leaders Pledge to Improve Campus Mental Health
Harvard Law School’s student government leaders signed a pledge to improve mental health at the school, joining student leadership from 12 other top law schools...Student government president Adrian D. Perkins
[`18] and vice president Amanda Lee
[`18] wrote, along with the other signees, that each school plans to broaden their mental health outreach efforts through their own initiatives and in association with other campus student groups. This pledge follows the Law School’s distribution of a survey last month meant to gauge the status of student mental health at the school...“We wanted to have some baseline data for our community as well and Harvard’s quite different from a lot of schools because we’re just so large,” Lee said. “Having that information is really important for advocating for better services.”
How to Nudge People to Give More to Charity
An op-ed by Cass Sunstein
. One of the most spectacularly successful ideas in all of behavioral economics is Save More Tomorrow, by which employers ask employees if they would like to give some portion of their future wage increases to their retirement plans. An equally intriguing but largely untried idea is Give More Tomorrow, by which people take steps to increase their charitable donations – in the future. For nonprofits, employers and individuals, the holiday season would be a terrific time to take advantage of that idea.
The Fake News Debate is a Distraction, Says Information Era Intellectual Yochai Benkler
In a 2006 book called “The Wealth of Networks: How social production transforms markets and freedom” (Yale University Press), Yochai Benkler
theorized that the internet would bring about a revolution that will democratize access to power...In the following eleven years Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and Alphabet, Google’s parent company, have become global behemoths, collecting in their way an unfathomable wealth of users’ data. At the same time, there were those who learned how to manipulate the data available and use the internet to spread misinformation. These are the issues that occupy Mr. Benkler, now a Law professor at Harvard and the co-director of the university’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society. "The attitude in Silicon Valley is that if we want it hard enough, technology can solve every problem. In reality, these companies and entrepreneurs are creating very centralized systems without being aware of the risks because they consider themselves to be ‘the good guys,’” says Benkler in an interview with Calcalist.
On Top of Everything, the GOP Tax Bill Is a Giveaway to Lobbyists
...The 2017 Republican House and Senate tax plans—currently being negotiated into a single package via reconciliation between the two chambers—are not 1986 reform. Likely no corporate lobbyist will be crying in a committee room if and when Donald Trump signs a finished bill. In part, that’s because both plans stuff new temporary business tax cuts into the code. For years to come, K Streeters will be selling their influence to get key politicians to renew them every few years. These temporary provisions—known as “tax extenders”—include an expiration date...Progressive author and Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig
has called it “one of the most efficient machines for printing money for politicians that Washington has ever created.”
The Harvard Crimson
Khizr Khan Discusses ‘An American Family’ at First Parish Church
On Monday, Nov. 6, Khizr Khan promoted his new book, “An American Family: A Memoir of Hope and Sacrifice,” at First Parish Church in Harvard Square. Khan, a Pakistani-American lawyer and Gold Star father, is best known for denouncing then-presidential candidate Donald Trump in a rousing speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Khan discussed the contents of his memoir with Harvard Law School professor Martha Minow
before taking questions from the audience.
The Washington Post
Grand juries, explained for those who kinda sorta know what they are
Any American who wants to follow the twists and turns of the Russia investigation quickly runs up against how well they understand the nuanced, sometimes opaque legal process. Like the grand jury. A grand jury is how special counsel Robert S. Mueller III charged President Trump's former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and Manafort's right-hand man, Rick Gates, with fraud and financial crimes. But grand juries are shrouded in secrecy — necessarily so, as it turns out...It's supposed to be that way, said Alex Whiting
, a former federal prosecutor and current professor at Harvard Law. If you started allowing witnesses to defend themselves in a grand jury, then suddenly you're holding something that more closely resembles a trial. Plus, Whiting said, the mere existence of grand juries act as a check on prosecutors.
Star Wars: Redemption, Authoritarianism, and the Appeal of Darkness (video)
George Lucas probably had no idea that Star Wars, his story about a moisture farmer going on an adventure, would change the course of storytelling. Memorable characters sure help set it apart from other science fiction, but Harvard Law professor Cass Sunstein
has good idea as to why it's such a global phenomenon. The original trilogy, he states, has something in it for everyone in that it tackles some very human problems: redemption, authoritarianism, and the appeal of darkness.