Follow HLS on
The New Yorker
St. Paul’s School and a New Definition of Rape
An op-ed by Jeannie Suk.
An eighteen-year-old male student’s sexual encounter with a fifteen-year-old female student at St. Paul’s School has led to his being sentenced to one year in jail, followed by five years of probation, and registered for life as a sex offender. Both feel their lives are destroyed. Our fascination with the secret sex rites of the New Hampshire prep school put Owen Labrie’s bespectacled face in all the papers. But the deeper pity and fear the case inspired revolved around a basic question we increasingly project onto the bodies of our young: What makes sex rape?...We are in the midst of a significant cultural shift, in which we are redescribing sex that we vehemently dislike as rape, and sexual attitudes that we strongly disapprove of as examples of rape culture.
The New York Times
Death Penalty Opponents Split Over Taking Issue to Supreme Court
In the long legal struggle against the death penalty, the future has in some ways never looked brighter. In a passionate dissent in June, Justice Stephen G. Breyer invited a major challenge to the constitutionality of capital punishment. This fall, Justice Antonin Scalia all but predicted that the court’s more liberal justices would strike down the death penalty. But lawyers and activists opposed to the death penalty, acutely conscious of what is at stake, are bitterly divided about how to proceed...“If you don’t go now, there’s a real possibility you have blood on your hands,” said Robert J. Smith
, a fellow at Harvard Law School’s Charles Hamilton Houston Institute. His scholarship was cited in Justice Breyer’s dissent from a decision upholding the use of an execution drug that three death row inmates argued risked causing excruciating pain.
The Wall Street Journal
Harvard Law Students Want School’s Link to Slaveholder Scrubbed from Official Seal
Some students at Harvard Law School are demanding that the institution’s official seal be scrubbed of references to the slaveholder credited with its founding. The seal of the prestigious law school displays three sheaves of wheat, depicting the family crest of plantation owner Isaac Royall Jr., who bequeathed land to Harvard that funded a professorship in law and led to the school’s founding in 1817...The school, which adopted the seal in 1936, has long wrestled with how to handle its history. Harvard professor Janet Halley
, a family law scholar who occupies the Royall Chair of Law, delved into the history in remarks she gave in 2006 at the time of her appointment, citing research by her colleague, Daniel R. Coquillette
...“As the holder of the Royall Chair, I think it’s extremely important that we own the Royall legacy,” she said. “We ought to be responsible bearers of this legacy, and that means knowing about it first,” Ms. Halley told Law Blog. Mr. Coquillette, a legal historian who co-wrote a new book examining the school’s early history, agreed with her. “I understand why the students are upset, but this is just a fact of the school,” he said. “If we started renaming things and taking down monuments of people linked to slavery, you would start with Washington. You don’t want to hide your history. A great institution can tell the truth about itself.”
Supreme Court Sits as the Grammar Police
An op-ed by Noah Feldman.
How would you feel if your 10-year prison sentence depended on a dangling modifier? That's the situation for Avondale Lockhart, whose case was heard Tuesday by the U.S. Supreme Court. Lockhart was caught in a federal sting and pleaded guilty to one count of possessing child pornography. He had a previous state conviction for attempted rape, a form of sexual abuse. According to federal law, Lockhart gets a mandatory 10-year minimum sentence for the child pornography if he had a prior state conviction “relating to aggravated sexual abuse, sexual abuse, or abusive sexual conduct involving a minor.” The crucial words here are “involving a minor.” Lockhart says they apply to the whole sentence. Because his prior conviction was for attempted rape of a woman, not a minor, the law doesn't apply to him. The government says “involving a minor” just refers to the last part of the sentence, “abusive sexual conduct,” not to what came before.
The Daily Beast
Ben Carson Was Sued for Malpractice at Least Eight Times
Ben Carson had a pretty remarkable track record for a job that involved slicing people’s heads open. In his three-decade-long career as a neurosurgeon, Carson, the newly minted leader of the ever-fickle Republican polls, faced a total of eight malpractice claims in the state of Maryland, according to the Maryland Health Care Alternative Dispute Resolution Office...“The key question in a case involving an allegation of a botched neurosurgery is whether the defendant or surgeon used the care and skill that is customary among neurosurgeons,” Harvard Law School professor John Goldberg
told The Daily Beast... “In the case you mention, the plaintiff would have been required to prove, first, that Dr. Carson actually did not examine the MRI (a factual issue), and, second, that prevailing standards among surgeons required him to consult the MRI before conducting surgery of the sort that was performed (a legal issue).” He added that the plaintiff would also have to prove that there was a direct link between the perceived error and the problems that occurred thereafter.
Don’t Give Up on Fast-Food Calorie Labels
An op-ed by Cass Sunstein.
One of the less-noticed provisions of the Affordable Care Act requires calorie labels at all chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments, following similar efforts in New York City and elsewhere. A new study raises doubts about whether those labels will make much difference to public health. The right response isn't to abandon the effort, but to improve it, and consider new approaches.
The Jerusalem Post
Final score: Dershowitz 137, BDS 101
Lawyer, academic, and political commentator Professor Alan Dershowitz
won over a packed debate on BDS at the Oxford Union, with the motion ‘Is the BDS movement against Israel wrong?’ being carried with 137 votes to 101. The lively event on Sunday night pitted Dershowitz against British human rights activist Tatchell, who has campaigned on various issues and notably attempted to commit a citizen’s arrest on Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe in 2001.
The Washington Post
Why some students say Harvard Law School’s crest is ‘a source of shame’
The crest of Harvard Law School displays three sheaves of wheat, arranged on a shield. The design is also the coat-of-arms for Isaac Royall Jr., who through his estate helped found the school. Another part of Royall’s legacy, however, is that he was a slaveholder...“These symbols set the tone for the rest of the school and the fact that we hold up the Harvard crest as something to be proud of when it represents something so ugly is a profound disappointment and should be a source of shame for the whole school,” law student Alexander J. Clayborne
[`16] told the newspaper. In an interview with The Washington Post, Clayborne said the effort, called Royall Must Fall, came about because some people on campus were looking for ways to support those in South Africa who were calling for the removal of a statue commemorating Cecil Rhodes...[Daniel] Coquillette
told The Post he felt it was important to understand the history of the institution, including Royall’s background. He’s a historian, he said, and believes in telling the truth about the past. Coquillette doesn’t think changing the seal is the best approach, he said, but he also doesn’t think conversations about Royall should stop.