Jeannie Suk Gersen

John H. Watson, Jr. Professor of Law

Biography

Jeannie Suk Gersen is the John H. Watson, Jr. Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, where she has taught criminal law and procedure, family law, and the law of art, fashion, and the performing arts. Before joining the faculty in 2006, she served as a law clerk to Justice David Souter on the United States Supreme Court, and to Judge Harry Edwards on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. She was educated at Yale (B.A. 1995), and at Oxford (D.Phil 1999) where she was a Marshall Scholar, and is a graduate of Harvard Law School (J.D. 2002). She has written three books and many articles in scholarly journals and general media. Her book, At Home in the Law, was awarded the Law and Society Association's Herbert Jacob Prize for the best law and society book of the year. She has been a Guggenheim Fellow, a fellow of the MacDowell Colony, and a recipient of Harvard Law School's Sacks-Freund Award for Teaching Excellence. She is a Contributing Writer for NewYorker.com.

Areas of Interest

Jeannie Suk, A Light Inside: An Odyssey of Art, Life and Law (Bookhouse 2013).
Categories:
Legal Profession
Sub-Categories:
Biography & Tribute
Type: Book
Abstract
The first Asian Woman tenured at Harvard Law School, Guggenheim Fellow, Herbert Jacob Prize Winner, 'Best Lawyers Under 40' by the NAPABA, Jeannie Suk tells her heartfelt story. By telling her old love for Ballet, Piano and reading, she guides us to her passionate life and work and finally to the world "that she wanted to see". She decided to write this book because she was frequently asked to explain the connection between how she grew up and how she works and lives now. What world do we want to see? What is "education" in its true sense? What is "life" where one paves one's own path? Through this clean and elegant memoir, we learn that one's attitude and passion for life is the most important in life. and she suggests that we should be brave as we have freedom to be imperfect. Also she tells about her disciplines of life and work. One of those is "find what you really love to do."
Jeannie Suk, Redistributing Rape, 48 Am. Crim. L. Rev. 111 (2011) (reviewing Sharon Dolovich, Strategic Segregation in the Modern Prison (2011)).
Categories:
Criminal Law & Procedure
,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
Sub-Categories:
Prison Law & Prisoners' Rights
,
Civil Rights
Type: Article
Jeannie Suk, The Trajectory of Trauma: Bodies and Minds of Abortion Discourse, 110 Colum. L. Rev. 1193 (2010).
Categories:
Family Law
,
Health Care
,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
Sub-Categories:
Gender & Sexuality
,
Reproduction
,
Psychology & Psychiatry
Type: Article
Abstract
What is the legal import of emotional pain following a traumatic event? The idea of women traumatized by abortion has recently acquired a constitutional foothold. The present Article is about this new frontier of trauma. I argue that the legal discourse of abortion trauma grows out of ideas about psychological trauma that have become pervasively familiar in the law through the rise of feminism. The Supreme Court’s statement in Gonzales v. Carhart, that some women who have abortions feel “regret” resulting in “severe depression and loss of esteem,” has provoked searing criticism because talk of protecting women from psychological harm caused by their own decisions seems to recapitulate paternalistic stereotypes inconsistent with modern egalitarian ideals. I argue that a significant context for the newly prominent discourse of abortion regret is the legal reception of psychological trauma that has continually gained momentum through feminist legal thought and reform since the 1970s. Rather than representing a stark and unmotivated departure, the notion of abortion trauma continues a legal discourse that grew up in precisely that period: a feminist discourse of trauma around women’s bodies and sexuality. This intellectual context gives meaning to the present discourse of women’s psychological pain in our legal system. The ideas informing abortion regret are utterly familiar once contextualized in modern legal understandings of women that have developed in the period since Roe.
C. Scott Hemphill & Jeannie Suk, Reply: Remix and Cultural Production, 61 Stan. L. Rev. 1227 (2010).
Categories:
Property Law
,
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Intellectual Property - Copyright
,
Cooperation, Peer-Production & Sharing
,
Digital Property
,
Intellectual Property Law
Type: Article
C. Scott Hemphill & Jeannie Suk, The Law, Culture and Economics of Fashion, 61 Stan. L. Rev. 1147 (2009).
Categories:
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
,
Property Law
Sub-Categories:
Law & Economics
,
Intellectual Property - Copyright
Type: Article
Abstract
Fashion is one of the world's most important creative industries. As the most immediate visible marker of self-presentation, fashion creates vocabularies for self-expression that relate individuals to society. Despite being the core of fashion and legally protected in Europe, fashion design lacks protection against copying under U.S. intellectual property law. This Article frames the debate over whether to provide protection to fashion design within a reflection on the cultural dynamics of innovation as a social practice. The desire to be in fashion - most visibly manifested in the practice of dress - captures a significant aspect of social life, characterized by both the pull of continuity with others and the push of innovation toward the new. We explain what is at stake economically and culturally in providing legal protection for original designs, and why a protection against close copies only is the proper way to proceed. We offer a model of fashion consumption and production that emphasizes the complementary roles of individual differentiation and shared participation in trends. Our analysis reveals that the current legal regime, which protects trademarks but not fashion designs from copying, distorts innovation in fashion away from this expressive aspect and toward status and luxury aspects. The dynamics of fashion lend insight into dynamics of innovation more broadly, in areas where consumption is also expressive. We emphasize that the line between close copying and remixing represents an often underappreciated but promising direction for intellectual property today.
Jeannie Suk, Is Privacy a Woman?, 97 Georgetown L.J. 485 (2009).
Categories:
Criminal Law & Procedure
,
Family Law
,
Technology & Law
,
Constitutional Law
,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
,
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
Sub-Categories:
Civil Rights
,
Feminist Legal Theory
,
Domestic Relations
,
Information Privacy & Security
Type: Article
Abstract
This essay is about the representation of privacy. Focusing on several of the Supreme Court's Fourth Amendment cases regarding the police and the home, I explore judicial articulations of the meaning of private space. Several striking figures of women appear in the Justices' opinions in Kyllo v. United States, and Georgia v. Randolph, for example, and represent different conceptions of privacy that are in dialogue and conflict. To theorize privacy in the home is to imagine a woman, and the way she is imagined is bound up with the idea of the home and stakes of privacy articulated. From the lady of the house in the bath, to the lady at home receiving callers, to the battered woman, distinctive figures of women reveal peculiar fault lines in the modern meaning of privacy in an era of judicial commitment to gender equality. Even long after the gradual demise of the particular marital privacy associated with the common law of coverture, the idea of protecting women from men remains central and appears today in new and different guises that evince both change and continuity in the legal meaning of the home.
Jeannie Suk, At Home in the Law: How the Domestic Violence Revolution is Transforming Privacy (Yale Univ. Press 2009).
Categories:
Family Law
,
Technology & Law
Sub-Categories:
Domestic Relations
,
Information Privacy & Security
Type: Book
Jeannie Suk, Taking the Home, 20 Law & Literature 291 (2008).
Categories:
Criminal Law & Procedure
,
Government & Politics
,
Property Law
,
Family Law
,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
Sub-Categories:
Poverty Law
,
Domestic Relations
,
Supreme Court of the United States
,
Eminent Domain
Type: Article
Jeannie Suk, The True Woman: Scenes from the Law of Self-Defense, 31 Harv. J.L. & Gender 237 (2008).
Categories:
Criminal Law & Procedure
,
Family Law
,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
,
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
Sub-Categories:
Gender & Sexuality
,
Feminist Legal Theory
Type: Article
Abstract
Self-defense is undergoing an epochal transformation. In the last few years, dozens of states have passed or proposed new Castle Doctrine legislation intended to expand the right to use deadly force in self-defense. These bills derive their informal name from the traditional common law castle doctrine, which grants a person attacked in his own home the right to use deadly force without trying to retreat to safety. But the new Castle Doctrine statutes, conceived and advocated by the National Rifle Association, extend beyond the home to self-defense more broadly. This Article sets out to explicate, contextualize, and theorize this remarkable development in self-defense law. To do so, the Article investigates the ideas that shape these new Castle Doctrine laws. It offers an interpretive genealogy focused on three crucial turning points in the development of self-defense, and argues that each has left a defining ideological trace on the new laws. The central claim is that in each phase, self-defense law drew importantly but differently on the idea of the home; and, in each, the operative idea of the home was constituted specifically by gender roles therein. The Article shows that modern self-defense law exemplified by the new Castle Doctrine powerfully embeds these distinctive meanings of gender, home, and crime.
Jeannie Suk, Criminal Law Comes Home, 116 Yale L.J. 2 (2006).
Categories:
Criminal Law & Procedure
,
Family Law
Sub-Categories:
Criminal Prosecution
,
Domestic Relations
Type: Article
Jeannie Suk, Originality, 115 Harv. L. Rev. 1988 (2002).
Categories:
Property Law
Sub-Categories:
Intellectual Property - Copyright
Type: Article
Abstract
This essay juxtaposes three contexts in which lawyers grapple with originality: copyright law, precedent-based legal reasoning, and law review publishing. I compare the dynamics of originality in each of these contexts. I focus on the literary genre of rewriting and its encounter with copyright law. I examine the interaction of rewriting and originality in one particular instance of judicial precedent-following. Finally, I reflect on the relation between preemption and citation in legal scholarship. In each of these contexts, originality and unoriginality form two sides of a double-edged sword: a paradox that derives from the application of lawyerly habits of mind to the unstable concept of originality.
Jeannie Suk, Postcolonial Paradoxes in French Caribbean Writing: Césaire, Glissant, Condé (Oxford Univ. Press 2001).
Categories:
Disciplinary Perspectives & Law
Sub-Categories:
Law & Humanities
Type: Book
Abstract
"This book is a major study of French Caribbean literature in light of the concept of postcoloniality. Postocolonial theory debates have developed in the anglophone domain, and have not as yet referred prominently to francophone literature. In this book, Jeannie Suk investigates the ways in which the literature of Martinique and Guadeloupe provides a kaleidescopic view of the paradoxes at the heart of postocoloniality. Through subtle and provocative readings of Aime Cesaire, Edouard Glissant, Maryse Conde, Baudelaire, Freud, and others, she illuminates how the development of French Caribbean literature and debates about negritude, antillanite, and creolite contribute to theories of in-betweenness and incompleteness central to postcolonial modes." --Jacket.

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