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Cass Sunstein

  • Poison Pill Hidden in the EPA Ruling

    June 30, 2014

    An op-ed by Cass R. Sunstein. Yesterday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision involving the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases was generally a big victory for the Barack Obama administration. But the court’s opinion contains a poison pill, one that lawyers will undoubtedly invoke in future cases involving the Affordable Care Act. While the decision, written by Justice Antonin Scalia, largely upheld the EPA’s authority, it invalidated the agency’s decision to exempt small emitters and thus “tailor” its greenhouse-gas regulations to allow greater flexibility. The text of the Clean Air Act seems to prohibit the EPA from creating such exemptions, but there are millions of small emitters, and the EPA invoked the idea of “administrative necessity” to exempt them.

  • Hillary Clinton’s Real Challenge

    June 30, 2014

    An op-ed by Cass R. Sunstein. Consider this hypothesis about modern presidential elections: Whenever American voters elect a new president, they choose someone who is, along a critical dimension, the antithesis of the incumbent. The Incumbent Antithesis hypothesis, as I’ll call it, fits recent history, and it may be correct. If so, it suggests a real challenge for the next Democratic nominee, even if it is Hillary Clinton -- perhaps especially if it is.

  • Why Care If the Court Splits 5-4?

    June 23, 2014

    An op-ed by Cass Sunstein. In many of its most important cases, the modern U.S. Supreme Court has divided 5-4. By a single vote, the court guaranteed the presidency to George W. Bush, upheld the Affordable Care Act and affirmative action in university admissions, and ruled that government cannot prevent corporations from spending money in political campaigns. As the court prepares to issue this year’s most significant decisions, it’s a good bet that several of them will show 5-4 divisions as well. Is this a problem?

  • ‘Choosing not to choose’: improving healthcare law by acknowledging how people behave (video)

    June 18, 2014

    Cass Sunstein opened the 2014 Behavioral Economics, Law, and Health Policy Conference with a keynote address called “Choosing Not to Choose.” His talk set the tone for the two-day conference organized by The Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School, which drew nearly 200 lawyers, public health professionals, economists, and health policy analysts to the campus from May 2-3.

  • The Supreme Court Will Always Split 5-4

    June 16, 2014

    An op-ed by Cass R. Sunstein. Everyone knows that under Chief Justice John Roberts, the U.S. Supreme Court often divides 5-4 -- an even split between liberals and conservatives, with Justice Anthony Kennedy providing the swing vote. But here’s a puzzle. Over recent decades, and under many different chief justices, the share of 5-4 splits in the Court’s docket has been fairly constant -- on average, in the vicinity of 20 percent. Is the Court always split between liberals and conservatives, or is there some other explanation?

  • The Official Right to Procrastinate

    June 9, 2014

    An op-ed by Cass R. Sunstein. There are all sorts of things people want the federal government to do -- for example, reduce poverty, make highways safer, protect against workplace risks, safeguard privacy online, regulate their least favorite companies or, for that matter, engage in deregulation. Under both Democratic and Republican administrations, federal officials often answer: “Not now.” In turn, public-interest groups, individuals and businesses have asked federal courts to require public officials to act. And for decades, courts came back with unclear and confusing responses -- until 2007, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency had acted unlawfully in refusing to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions. That decision led to last week’s proposals for new limits on emissions from existing power plants. And it raised the real possibility that courts would start to oversee federal agencies' authority to set priorities -- and constrain the president’s authority as well.

  • Now Who Wants to Change the Constitution?

    June 9, 2014

    An op-ed by Cass R. Sunstein. We are in the midst of a shift in political thinking about constitutional amendments. Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, is among many progressive thinkers now promoting constitutional change -- in her case, to allow Congress to restrict corporate spending on political campaigns. Former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, in a new book, calls for no fewer than six constitutional amendments, involving not only campaign finance but also gun control, capital punishment, political gerrymandering, sovereign immunity and federalism. Yet, for decades, constitutional change was something championed more by conservatives than by liberals. What's going on?

  • How conspiracy theories explain political parties (video)

    May 20, 2014

    After Cass Sunstein co-wrote bestseller Nudge on behavioral economics with Richard Thaler, he went on to run the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs from 2009-2012, acting as the President's top regulator. But some of his more curious — and controversial — research is on conspiracy theories: how they work, and why they're often rational for people to believe. His new book, Conspiracy Theories and Other Dangerous Ideas, details this research. He spoke with Ezra Klein on his theory, and how it helps explain the disagreements between our current political parties.

  • The Man Who Made Libertarians Wrong About the Constitution

    May 19, 2014

    A book review by Cass R. Sunstein. When I joined the faculty of the University of Chicago Law School in 1981, there were two defining figures: Richard Posner and Richard Epstein. Posner was the world’s most important voice in the emerging field of “law and economics.” At the time he believed that courts should “maximize wealth.” Epstein, a defender of personal autonomy with strong libertarian inclinations, was Posner’s most vocal critic. At the University of Chicago Law School lunch table, where the faculty ate four times each week, the two had some fierce struggles. Tempers flared. No one who was there will forget those lunches, which sometimes seemed like a form of combat.

  • Recent Faculty Books – Summer 2014

    May 15, 2014

    In two new books, Professor Cass Sunstein, former administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, addresses human behavior and how government should best respond to it.

  • Why Worry About Inequality?

    May 13, 2014

    An op-ed by Cass R. Sunstein. What, exactly, is wrong with economic inequality? Thomas Piketty’s improbable best-seller, "Capital in the Twenty-First Century," has put that question in sharp relief. As just about everyone now knows, Piketty contends that over the next century, inequality is likely to grow. In response, he outlines a series of policies designed to reduce wealth at the very top of society, including a progressive income tax and a global wealth tax. But Piketty says surprisingly little about why economic inequality, as such, is a problem.

  • Why Officials Don’t Tell the Media Everything

    May 8, 2014

    An op-ed by Cass R. Sunstein. The White House Correspondents' Association dinner, which I attended last Saturday night, is an astonishing spectacle -- a unique combination of journalists, government officials and celebrities. Amid the laughter and the conviviality, however, there is an uneasy undercurrent: Many journalists are disturbed that outside of an annual dinner, they cannot get a lot of access to those same officials.

  • Gary Becker Explains Your Dinner Check

    May 6, 2014

    An op-ed by Cass R. Sunstein. Saturday marked the death of Gary Becker, perhaps the greatest social scientist of the last 50 years. More than anyone else, Becker is responsible for the rigorous pursuit of the idea that human beings are rational and responsive to incentives. That’s a simple idea, but Becker used it to produce path-breaking insights into countless areas, including crime, discrimination, addiction, politics and the structure of the family. Becker was a colleague and a friend of mine, and he was a quintessentially rational man.

  • Tackling Climate Change through Law and Policy: A Q&A with Jody Freeman

    April 24, 2014

    n the spirit of Harvard University President Drew Faust’s recent focus on addressing the problem of climate change, we interviewed HLS Professor Jody Freeman, who served in the Obama administration as Counselor for Energy and Climate Change and is the co-author of a forthcoming book on global climate change and U.S. law.

  • Cass Sunstein

    Sunstein in ‘Science’: Improving the Pollution-Mortality Link

    April 21, 2014

    In an article published April 18 in the journal Science, Harvard and MIT researchers note that in recent years, one-third to a half of all benefits gained from major regulations in the U.S. have come from the regulation of just one pollutant: particulate matter.

  • Defending Snowden: Revelations key to reform push, says ACLU lawyer (video)

    March 27, 2014

    On March 25, Ben Wizner, director of the ACLU Speech, Privacy & Technology Project, came to Harvard Law School to discuss his experience as Edward Snowden's legal advisor at an event sponsored by the Harvard Journal of Law and Technology, Harvard National Security Law Association, Harvard Law School National Security Journal, Harvard Civil Rights-Civil Liberties Law Review, Unbound: Harvard Journal of the Legal Left, the HLS American Constitution Society and the HLS American Civil Liberties Union.

  • A day in the life of Harvard Law

    March 14, 2014

    Because legal education demands rigorous discussion and exchange, because legal imagination springs from bridging theory and practice, and because Harvard Law School recruits and develops superb students from all over the world to pursue lives of leadership, the school commissioned space designed precisely for these purposes. Here's a look at the spaces that are part of the Harvard Law School experience.

  • Cass Sunstein

    Sunstein among recipients of American Library Association award

    February 20, 2014

    The President’s Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies is this year’s recipient of the American Library Association’s James Madison Award. The Group, created last year by President Barack Obama ’91, includes Harvard Law School professor Cass R. Sunstein ‘78, who was administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs from 2009 to 2012.

  • Lessons on studying security: Sunstein discusses his work with panel tasked with reviewing U.S. surveillance (video)

    January 31, 2014

    On Tuesday, Harvard Law School Professor Cass Sunstein, a member of a five-person advisory panel created by President Obama to make a sweeping review of U.S. surveillance activities, discussed the group’s efforts and the 46 recommendations it released last month, including major reforms to the way the intelligence community does business.

  • Justice Breyer

    A reflective Justice Breyer explains inner workings of Supreme Court at HLS

    October 4, 2013

    To celebrate the 20th anniversary of his appointment to the United States Supreme Court, Associate Justice Stephen Breyer visited Harvard Law School on Oct. 1 for an informal chat with HLS Dean Martha Minow, and later took part in a panel discussion with several HLS professors who examined his tenure and some of his most notable opinions.

  • Samantha Power

    Samantha Power ’99 confirmed as U.N. Ambassador

    August 2, 2013

    Samantha Power ’99, who has served as an adviser to President Barack Obama ’91 on foreign policy and national security, won confirmation Thursday as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

  • Recent Faculty Books – Summer 2013

    July 1, 2013

    “Designing Systems and Processes for Managing Disputes” (Wolters Kluwer, 2013), co-written by Clinical Professor Robert C. Bordone ’97, Professor Emeritus Frank E.A. Sander ’52, Nancy H. Rogers, and Craig A. McEwen, is the first course book of its kind offering a multidisciplinary and skill-based guide to designing and implementing alternative dispute resolution systems.

  • Cass Sunstein

    Mr. Sunstein Went to Washington

    July 1, 2013

    In the fall of 2009, Professor Cass R. Sunstein, left HLS to serve as the administrator at the helm of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, joining a humming warren of executive branch experts in trade, health, economics, science and other specialties.

  • Obamacare’s Point Guard

    July 1, 2013

    Nancy-Ann DeParle, director of the White House Office of Health Reform from 2009 to 2011, answers questions about the Affordable Care Act.

  • The Supreme Court

    HLS faculty weigh in on Supreme Court rulings

    June 27, 2013

    The U.S. Supreme Court ruled this week on several major cases including United States v. Windsor and Hollingsworth v. Perry in regard to same-sex marriage, Fisher v. University of Texas on Affirmative Action, and Shelby County v. Holder, which concerned the Voting Rights Act of 1965. A number of HLS faculty shared their opinions of the rulings on the radio, television, on the web and in print.

  • Harvard Law School media roundup: From the NSA scandal to the regulatory battles of a new taxi cab app

    June 17, 2013

    Over the past week, a number of HLS faculty members shared their viewpoints on events in the news. Here are some excerpts.

  • Harvard Law faculty and alumni among 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America

    April 11, 2013

    Several members of the Harvard Law School faculty and over a dozen alumni were named to The National Law Journal’s list of 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America.

  • Ronald Dworkin LL.B. ’57

    Remembering Ronald Dworkin LL.B. ’57

    February 20, 2013

    Ronald M. Dworkin LL.B. ’57, renowned legal scholar and philosopher, died on Feb. 13, 2013. In the days since, a number of Harvard Law School professors have written pieces about Dworkin, who was a towering figure in the legal world.

  • Professor Cass Sunstein '78

    Sunstein appointed Harvard University Professor

    February 19, 2013

    Cass Sunstein ’78, Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law and director of HLS’s new Program on Behavioral Economics and Public Policy, has been named a University Professor, Harvard University President Drew Faust announced today. Harvard’s highest honor for a faculty member, University Professorships were established in 1935 to recognize individuals whose work on the frontiers of knowledge crosses the traditional boundaries of academic disciplines.

  • Cass Sunstein, Alex Macgillivray, Elliot Schrage

    Experts explore how social networks can influence behavior and decision-making (video)

    February 15, 2013

    Scholars and social media experts convened at Harvard Law School Feb. 6 to examine the ways in which electronic interactive media can sway human decision-making and behavior. The conference, “Social Media and Behavioral Economics,” was sponsored by Harvard Law School's new Program on Behavioral Economics and Public Policy and created by the program’s director, Cass Sunstein ’78.

  • Social Media and Behavioral Economics Conference

    February 4, 2013

    On Wednesday, Feb. 6, scholars from across Harvard University joined social media experts from Facebook, Twitter, Socialflow and Microsoft Research for a conference on social media, theory and practice, and their potential effects on voting behavior, electricity consumption, pro-social behavior and privacy. The event, “Social Media and Behavioral Economics Conference,” sponsored by Harvard Law School’s new Program on Behavioral Economics and Public Policy, was held at Harvard Law School.

  • Professor Robert Mnookin LL.B. '68

    In the news: HLS faculty weigh in on the ‘fiscal cliff’ negotiations

    January 7, 2013

    In recent weeks, a number of HLS faculty have weighed in on issues surrounding the fiscal cliff negotiations.

  • Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. at HLS

    Briefs: Some memorable moments, milestones and a Miró

    October 1, 2012

    In October 1962, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. spoke at Harvard Law School on “The Future of Integration.” It was six months before he would be imprisoned in a Birmingham jail, 10 months before the March on Washington, almost two years before the signing of the Civil Rights Act and almost six years before his assassination. “It may be that the law cannot make a man love me,” he said, “but it can keep him from lynching me.”

  • Eight HLS faculty ranked in "High-Impact List" for corporate governance field

    August 30, 2012

    Eight Harvard Law School faculty members were recently ranked among the top 100 corporate governance scholars in the world, in all corporate areas, including management, law, economics, and finance. Included on the American Academy of Management’s list of 100 “high-impact scholars” were HLS Professors Lucian Bebchuk, John Coates, Reinier Kraakman, Mark Roe '75, Steven Shavell and Cass Sunstein '78. Former HLS Dean and current Visiting Professor Elena Kagan '86 and HLS Lecturer on Law Leo Strine also were featured on the list.

  • Cass Sunstein

    Cass Sunstein to rejoin Harvard Law School faculty

    August 3, 2012

    Cass Sunstein ’78, administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) in the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), will return to the Harvard Law School faculty as Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law following his planned departure in August from the Obama Administration, Dean Martha Minow announced today.

  • Cass R. Sunstein '78

    Cass Sunstein on new directions in regulatory policy

    April 12, 2012

    Here’s the scorecard: Bush: $3.4 billion. Clinton: $14 billion. Obama: $91.3 billion. These numbers represent the net monetary benefits of final, federal agency regulations issued through the third fiscal year of each of these administrations. They were presented to HLS students and faculty on March 26 by Cass R. Sunstein, former Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law and current administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, a department within the White House’s Office of Management and Budget. As administrator, Sunstein oversees the federal government’s entire regulatory process. He was on campus to discuss “New Directions in Regulatory Policy.”

  • Recent Faculty Books – Fall 2014

    November 21, 2010

    In his essays, Samuel Moyn considers topics such as human rights and the Holocaust, international courts, and liberal internationalism. Skeptical of humanitarian justifications for intervention, he writes,“[H]uman rights history should turn away from ransacking the past as if it provided good support for the astonishingly specific international movement of the last few decades.”

  • Minow, Sunstein and Tribe elected to American Philosophical Society

    May 3, 2010

    Harvard Law School Professors Martha Minow, Cass R. Sunstein ’78, and Laurence Tribe ‘66 are among the new class of members elected to the American Philosophical Society.

  • Cass Sunstein

    Sunstein confirmed as Washington regulator

    September 10, 2009

    The U.S. Senate voted yesterday to confirm Harvard Law School Professor Cass Sunstein ’78 as administrator, Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, Office of Management and Budget.

  • HLS alumni and faculty serve in Obama administration

    August 3, 2009

    This year, Harvard Law School alumni continued to make an impact in a variety of ways. Most notably, HLS alumni have filled the halls…

  • Works by HLS faculty most downloaded on SSRN

    July 15, 2009

    The academic work of the Harvard Law School faculty is downloaded from the online database of the Social Science Research Network (SSRN) more frequently than that of any other law school faculty, according to the popular law blog, Brian Leiter’s Law School Reports. Works by HLS faculty were downloaded 107,591 times during the period studied for the survey.

  • A Constitution of Many Minds book cover

    Why the Founding Document Doesn’t Mean What It Meant Before

    April 2, 2009

    Intelligent minds have long differed on the U.S. Constitution’s role as a blueprint for democracy. Some see it as the sacrosanct product of an enlightened era, its text to be followed literally. Others say that the Constitution must be interpreted more generally in order to apply its principles to current times.

  • 2008 – Year in Review – Books

    December 13, 2008

    2008 was a prolific year for HLS scholars. Here is a roundup of this year’s faculty books.

  • 2008 Year in Review – Faculty

    December 12, 2008

    2008 saw an extraordinary round of faculty appointments at Harvard Law School, with the announcement of 14 new additions.

  • Intelligent Design

    October 10, 2008

    Faced with important decisions about their lives, people often make pretty bad choices—choices they would not have made if they paid full attention and possessed complete information, unlimited cognitive abilities, and complete self-control. To take just one example, many people never get around to joining their employer’s retirement savings plan, even when it is heavily subsidized.

  • Cass Sunstein ’78

    Sunstein advocates for further disclosure in credit industry

    August 21, 2008

    The following article, "Disclosure Is the Best Kind of Credit Regulation," co-written by Harvard Law School Professor Cass Sunstein '78 and University of Chicago Professor Richard Thaler, was published in the Wall Street Journal on August 13, 2008.

  • Cass Sunstein ’78

    Sunstein studies partisanship on the Supreme Court

    August 21, 2008

    The following article, "Judicial Partisanship Awards," written by Harvard Law School Professor Cass Sunstein '78, was published in the Washington Independent on July 31, 2008.

  • Cass Sunstein ’78

    Assumed Risks and Other Dangers

    July 1, 2008

    Consider the two most challenging environmental problems of our time—the depletion of the earth’s protective ozone layer, and global climate change. The first one, writes Cass Sunstein ’78, “has been essentially solved, whereas very little progress has been made on the second.”

  • Cass Sunstein ’78

    Sunstein to join Harvard Law School faculty

    February 19, 2008

    Renowned legal scholar and political theorist Cass R. Sunstein '78 has accepted an offer to join the Harvard Law School faculty, Dean Elena Kagan '86 announced today. Sunstein, currently a tenured professor at the University of Chicago Law School, will begin teaching at HLS in the fall. He will also become director of the new Program on Risk Regulation.