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Janet Halley

  • The Department of Education Must Commit to Free Speech and Due Process | Opinion

    December 1, 2021

    Vice President Kamala Harris cast the tie-breaking vote in October to confirm Catherine Lhamon to lead the Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR). When Lhamon held the same position under the Obama administration, her office enforced Title IX—the federal statute prohibiting sex-based discrimination in education—in a manner that endangered fundamental free speech and due process rights. ... Last year, the Department of Education enacted new, balanced regulations that protect the rights of all students, consistent with many judicial rulings. ... Prominent feminist legal scholars, including Harvard Law professors Jeannie Suk Gersen and Janet Halley, as well as the University of San Francisco Law School's Lara Bazelon, heralded the regulations for their overall fairness and for rectifying injustices in OCR's prior policies.

  • A woman agreed to have a baby for a Facebook friend through Messenger. Now, they’re locked in a custody war.

    September 23, 2021

    When a Massachusetts woman and her partner learned neither of them could carry a child, the women turned to their Facebook friends for help. “[W]ho wants to pop out a baby for my [fiancee] and I?!” the Massachusetts woman posted in early 2017, according to court documents. It wasn’t long before she received a private message. “Hey, if you and [fiancee] were serious about a baby … then I would do it,” wrote a woman who said she was childhood friends with the fiancee. ... “This case is truly amazing,” Janet Halley, a Harvard law professor, told The Post. “The court had no law to apply.”

  • Iqra Saleem Khan

    ‘I am a different person than what I was a few months ago’

    May 12, 2021

    For Iqra Saleem Khan LL.M. ’21, the journey to Harvard Law School has been filled with significant obstacles. But overcoming tough challenges is second nature for Khan, a resilience for which she credits her fiercest champion: her mother.

  • A New Group Promises to Protect Professors’ Free Speech

    March 8, 2021

    When I spoke to the Princeton University legal scholar and political philosopher Robert P. George in August, he offered a vivid zoological metaphor to describe what happens when outrage mobs attack academics. When hunted by lions, herds of zebras “fly off in a million directions, and the targeted member is easily taken down and destroyed and eaten.” A herd of elephants, by contrast, will “circle around the vulnerable elephant.” ... George was then recruiting the founding members of an organization designed to fix the collective-action problem that causes academics to scatter like zebras. What had begun as a group of 20 Princeton professors organized to defend academic freedom at one college was rapidly scaling up its ambitions and capacity: It would become a nationwide organization...Today, that organization, the Academic Freedom Alliance, formally issued a manifesto declaring that “an attack on academic freedom anywhere is an attack on academic freedom everywhere,” and committing its nearly 200 members to providing aid and support in defense of “freedom of thought and expression in their work as researchers and writers or in their lives as citizens,” “freedom to design courses and conduct classes using reasonable pedagogical judgment,” and “freedom from ideological tests, affirmations, and oaths.” ... Some of the founding members from outside of Princeton include Randall L. Kennedy, Orlando Patterson, Jeannie Suk Gersen, Janet Halley, and Cornel West at Harvard; Brian Leiter and Dorian S. Abbot at the University of Chicago; Sheri Berman at Barnard; and Kathryn L. Lynch at Wellesley.

  • Trump Overhaul of Campus Sex Assault Rules Wins Surprising Support

    June 25, 2020

    Education Secretary Betsy DeVos fired a shot last month in the nation’s culture wars, overhauling how colleges handle investigations of sexual assault and ending what she called Obama-era “kangaroo courts” on campus. The new Education Department rules give more protections to the accused, primarily young men who face discipline or expulsion as a result of allegations of sexual misconduct...But Ms. Devos’s actions won praise from a surprising audience: an influential group of feminist legal scholars who applauded the administration for repairing what they viewed as unconscionable breaches in the rights of the accused. “The new system is vastly better and fairer,” said Prof. Janet Halley, who specializes in gender and sexuality at Harvard Law School. “The fact that we’re getting good things from the Trump administration is confusing, but isn’t it better than an unbroken avalanche of bad things?” There are few more contested cultural battlegrounds than college campuses and the rules that govern sexual misconduct and due process, and thorny questions of how to define sexual consent... “I’m a feminist, but I’m also a defense attorney who recognizes the importance of due process,” said Prof. Nancy Gertner, a retired federal judge and lecturer in law at Harvard, who opposed the Obama-era rules. “These are fences I’ve straddled all my life.” ...Jeannie Suk Gersen and her husband, Jacob E. Gersen, also Harvard professors, have joined in the critique of Title IX. They wrote a law review article critiquing the creation of a federal “sex bureaucracy,” which they said leveraged “sexual violence and harassment policy to regulate ordinary sex.” Professor Suk Gersen’s assessment of the DeVos changes appeared in The New Yorker.

  • America’s New Sex Bureaucracy

    September 24, 2019

    Four feminist law professors at Harvard Law School have been telling some alarming truths about the tribunals that have been adjudicating collegiate sex for the past five years. Campus Title IX tribunals are “so unfair as to be truly shocking,” Janet Halley, Jeannie Suk Gersen, Elizabeth Bartholet, and Nancy Gertner proclaimed in a jointly authored document titled “Fairness for All Students.” That document followed up on a previous open letter signed by 28 members of the Harvard Law School faculty in 2014 arguing that the updated sexual assault policy recently installed at Harvard was “inconsistent with some of the most basic principles we teach” and “would do more harm than good.”

  • The Revolt of the Feminist Law Profs

    August 9, 2019

    On a crisp and gray September morning, Jeannie Suk Gersen stepped into a lecture hall at Tufts University...Gersen is a feminist legal scholar and a writer of wry, slightly elliptical commentary on legal matters at The New Yorker. She is our foremost guide to the challenges that the #MeToo movement poses to the legal system. She has staked out a position at once conventional and embattled. She shares #MeToo’s goal of ending the impunity surrounding sexual assault. But she remains committed to the principles of due process, presumption of innocence, and the right to a fair hearing. This commitment places her in tension with some of the most impassioned actors in American public life, some of whom have come to regard due process as a fatal obstacle to deterring and punishing sexual misconduct...Gersen, [Janet] Halley, [Elizabeth] Bartholet, and [Nancy] Gertner designed an alternative set of Title IX procedures — applicable only to Harvard Law students — that the Office for Civil Rights eventually certified as meeting the requirements laid out in the Dear Colleague letter, while also satisfying the principles of fair process as Gersen and her colleagues understood them.

  • New Wave of Student Activism Presses Colleges on Sexual Assault

    June 11, 2019

    In just the last few weeks, activists have helped shut down fraternities at Swarthmore, ousted a dormitory leader at Harvard who had signed on as a lawyer for Harvey Weinstein and pushed Princeton to review the way it handles sexual assault complaints. Administrators have initiated talks with the protesters to address their concerns...Janet Halley, a legal and feminist scholar at Harvard, said she supported the right of students to demand that Ronald Sullivan Jr., a fellow law professor, be removed from his dormitory position for representing Mr. Weinstein. But she thought it “cowardly” of the university not to be more forceful in defending the legal principle at stake. “We’re living in a hyper-polarized time,” Dr. Halley said. “If we can all be fired because of people who can be offended, there’s going to be a gigantic housecleaning around here.”

  • Harvey Weinstein trial is causing a legal drama at Harvard

    May 5, 2019

    In the tumultuous few months since students began objecting to Harvard Law professor Ronald S. Sullivan Jr.’s decision to defend Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein at his rape trial, the college has been reviewing the living climate at Winthrop House, the residential community he leads as faculty dean. But, suffice it to say, the climate is anything but copacetic. ...“It’s a constitutional right that [Weinstein] would have a defense,” Harvard Law professor Janet Halley said. “Some of us would represent Harvey Weinstein. Some of us would never, ever. Telling someone else they can’t do it? Or if they do it they’re not fit to walk the halls of a residential house, that they’re a danger to the community or somehow not respectable anymore? Those are bad things for our leadership to be thinking.”

  • Harvard Law faculty speak in support of resident dean representing Weinstein

    March 8, 2019

    A Letter to the Editor: We the 52 undersigned members of the Harvard Law School faculty support our colleague Ronald S. Sullivan Jr.’s dedication to the professional tradition of providing representation to people accused of crimes and other misconduct, including to those who are reviled. For the past 10 years while serving as faculty dean of Winthrop House, professor Sullivan has represented alleged victims of sexual assault as well as people accused of sexual assault, murder, and terrorism. [Editor’s note: Sullivan is representing Harvey Weinstein in his current criminal case, which has generated protests at Harvard.] We call upon our university’s administration to recognize that such legal advocacy in service of constitutional principles is not only fully consistent with Sullivan’s roles of law professor and dean of an undergraduate house, but also one of the many possible models that resident deans can provide in teaching, mentoring, and advising students. The university owes a robust response to allegations of sexual harassment and other sexual misconduct. We respect students’ right to protest professor Sullivan’s choice of clients. But we view any pressure by Harvard’s administration for him to resign as faculty dean of Winthrop, because of his representation or speaking on behalf of clients, as inconsistent with the university’s commitment to the freedom to defend ideas, however unpopular.

  • In Defense of Harvey Weinstein’s Harvard Lawyer

    March 4, 2019

    The law professor Ronald S. Sullivan Jr. is among the most accomplished people at Harvard. He has helped to overturn scores of wrongful convictions and to free thousands from wrongful incarceration. ... Sullivan faces this “clamor of popular suspicions and prejudices” because he agreed to act as a criminal-defense attorney for an object of scorn and hatred: Harvey Weinstein. ... Catharine MacKinnon, Harvard’s James Barr Ames Visiting Professor of Law, emailed: The issue is not whether Ron can represent reviled clients accused of crimes and still be the faculty dean of a college. Of course he can. The issue is substantive. ...The Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig echoes the argument that it’s possible to be a survivor of sexual assault and feel comfortable with Sullivan’s choice. ...“The skills, capacities, and dispositions that would help to make a person a valued defense counsel are also the skills, capacities, and dispositions that would help to make a person a valued Faculty Dean,” [Randall Kennedy] argued.  ... The Harvard professor Jeannie Suk Gersen emailed me her concerns with such “processes”: "Professor Sullivan has chosen to represent and defend persons whom many people would not defend. Strong disagreement with those choices is of course part of the exploration of differences of principle and opinion that we’d hope for in a university." ... “Little more than half a century ago, mainstream lawyers were frightened away from defending alleged Communists who faced congressional witch hunts, blacklisting, criminal trials, and even execution,” Harvard Law’s Alan Dershowitz wrote. ... The Harvard professor Janet Halley calls Harvard’s actions “deeply disturbing.” She explained in an email: The right to counsel even for the most despised defendants, the basic role of counsel in our legal order, the presumption of innocence, academic freedom, and the right of University employees to assist persons accused in the University’s Title IX proceedings—are all implicated here. ... The Harvard law professor Scott Westfahl, however, defended the idea of a climate review, also by email. ... “We are all better off as a result,” and he noted, “I completely support the right of Professor Sullivan, an extremely talented defense lawyer, to take on a very difficult case. Should Mr. Weinstein be convicted, there will be absolutely no doubt that he received a fair hearing with the best possible defense counsel.”

  • Wasserstein Hall at Harvard Law School

    Three faculty evaluate Department of Education proposed rule for Title IX enforcement

    January 30, 2019

    Harvard Law School Professors Jeannie Suk Gersen ’02 and Janet Halley, and Senior Lecturer on Law Nancy Gertner have issued a Comment on the Department of Education’s Proposed Rule on Title IX enforcement.

  • health app illustration

    Faculty Books in Brief: Winter 2019

    January 29, 2019

    With the increased use of a massive volume and variety of data in our lives, our health care will inevitably be affected, note the editors of a new collection, one of the recent faculty books captured in this section.

  • On Campus Radio: Drawing New Rules For Title IX

    January 29, 2019

    Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has already rescinded Obama-era guidelines for how schools handle sexual harassment and assault claims. Now, she is hoping to give what she calls fair protections to the accused. Advocates for survivors see this as a big step backward and they are making their voices heard. The deadline for public comment has been extended to Wednesday, Jan. 30. On the latest episode of On Campus Radio, we'll look into DeVos' proposed changes and how students and educators are responding to them. ... We'll then talk to Harvard law professors Janet Halley and Diane Rosenfeld about the debate over Title IX regulations.

  • Campus sex assault rules need revisions

    December 17, 2018

    U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has unveiled a proposal to modify the rules on college campus for adjudicating sexual assault cases, citing inequities that erode the rights of the accused. Many feminists are outraged, wary of obstacles sexual assault victims frequently face in gaining justice. ... Harvard University law professor Janet Halley wrote in a 2015 Harvard Law Review—citing “To Kill a Mockingbird” and the Emmett Till case—“American racial history is laced with vendetta-like scandals in which black men are accused of sexually assaulting white women” followed eventually by the revelation “that the accused men were not wrongdoers at all.”

  • I’m a Democrat and a Feminist. And I Support Betsy DeVos’s Title IX Reforms.

    December 5, 2018

    Education Secretary Betsy DeVos’s proposed regulations overhauling how colleges handle sexual assault, which may become law in January, are far from perfect. But there is a big reason to support them: I’m a feminist and a Democrat, and as a lawyer I have seen the troubling racial dynamics at play under the current Title IX system and the lack of due process for the accused...We see what the Harvard Law School professor Janet Halley described in a 2015 law review article: “The general social disadvantage that black men continue to carry in our culture can make it easier for everyone in the adjudicative process to put the blame on them.”...“I’ve assisted multiple men of color, a Dreamer, a homeless man and two trans students,” Professor Halley told me. “How can the left care about these people when the frame is mass incarceration, immigration or trans-positivity and actively reject fairness protections for them under Title IX?”

  • DeVos, Dartmouth Grapple With Sexual Misconduct On Campus

    November 27, 2018

    ...Janet Halley, a Harvard Law School professor, has pushed for the Education Department to revise Obama-era guidelines on how colleges are to respond to sexual harassment and assault. In 2017, she and other Harvard law professors urged the department to rescind a letter that contained the guidelines. "Students would be forced to be interviewed or show up to hearings with no notice of what the charges against them were,” said Halley, who welcomes the proposed changes that give greater protections to the accused. "The fact that the Trump administration is proposing fairness is one of the great paradoxes of our time,” Halley said. “But fairness is fairness."

  • New Title IX Regulations May Reshape Harvard’s Handling of Sexual Misconduct

    November 19, 2018

    The Department of Education released proposed regulations Friday meant to reshape how colleges handle allegations of sexual misconduct — Harvard among them. The long-anticipated proposal — which was announced alongside a statement by United States Education Secretary Betsy DeVos — provides a new framework for implementing Title IX, an anti-sex discrimination law that guides universities’ approach to handling sexual assault...Law School Professor Diane L. Rosenfeld, who teaches a course on Title IX, said the new guidance is “an attempt to make [schools] not responsible for off-campus” sexual assault and harassment...Law School professor Janet E. Halley said she plans to write a formal comment to the Department advocating for policies similar to the ones currently in place at Harvard Law School, which mandate a different hearing process than the one the government has put forth. She said she thinks the new proposal contains both necessary improvements and “disastrous” flaws. “A lot of my issues are my concern for the accused, but a lot of my issues are my concern for the complainant,” she said. “There’s good things and bad things for both sides here, so the public furor is pretty idiotic.”

  • 25 Harvard Law Profs Sign NYT Op-Ed Demanding Senate Reject Kavanaugh

    October 4, 2018

    Roughly two dozen Harvard Law School professors have signed a New York Times editorial arguing that the United States Senate should not confirm Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Harvard affiliates — including former Law School Dean Martha L. Minow and Laurence Tribe — joined more than 1,000 law professors across the country in signing the editorial, published online Wednesday. The professors wrote that Kavanaugh displayed a lack of “impartiality and judicial temperament requisite to sit on the highest court of our land” in the heated testimony he gave during a nationally televised hearing held Sept. 27 in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee....As of late Wednesday, the letter had been signed by the following: Sabi Ardalan, Christopher T. Bavitz, Elizabeth Bartholet, Christine Desan, Susan H. Farbstein, Nancy Gertner, Robert Greenwald, Michael Gregory, Janet Halley, Jon Hanson, Adriaan Lanni, Bruce H. Mann, Frank Michelman, Martha Minow, Robert H. Mnookin, Intisar Rabb, Daphna Renan, David L. Shapiro, Joseph William Singer, Carol S. Steiker, Matthew C. Stephenson, Laurence Tribe, Lucie White, Alex Whiting, Jonathan Zittrain

  • Students Filed Title IX Complaints Against Kavanaugh to Prevent Him From Teaching at Harvard Law

    October 2, 2018

    In the days before Harvard Law School announced embattled Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh will not teach in Cambridge this January, undergraduates eager to block his return to campus struck on a new strategy: file Title IX complaints against the conservative judge...Jeannie Suk Gersen, a professor at the Law School and a Title IX expert who has written extensively about Kavanaugh’s confirmation, said that — while she supports the students’ freedom to protest the nominee’s former teaching role at Harvard — the notion of filing Title IX complaints is “misplaced.” “Such an abuse of process would undermine the legitimacy and credibility of complaints that the Title IX process is intended to deal with, as well as of the Title IX office to focus on its duties,” Suk Gersen wrote in an email. “It might be effective in drawing further attention to some students’ objection to Kavanaugh’s teaching appointment, but I don’t expect him to be found to have violated Harvard University’s Sexual & Gender-Based Harassment Policy based on the currently known public allegations against him.” Janet Halley, another Law School professor with a background in Title IX law, also called the students’ strategy of filing formal complaints unlikely to succeed. “I urge the students to divert their energy from this implausible claim that he’s going to create a sexually hostile environment by teaching at the Law School to the really grand issue of whether he’s fit to be in his current judgeship or promoted to the Supreme Court,” Halley said.

  • Harvard’s S.J.D. community shares work in progress

    Harvard’s S.J.D. community shares work in progress

    July 19, 2018

    Members of Harvard Law School’s S.J.D. community gathered on campus for the 2018 S.J.D. Association Workshop, “Between Law and Justice: Ethics, Politics, and the State,” on May 17. The Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) is Harvard Law School’s most advanced law degree, designed principally for aspiring legal academics who wish to pursue sustained independent study, research, and writing.

  • HLS Profs Sign Letter Slamming ‘Victim-Centered’ Sexual Harassment Policies

    February 28, 2018

    Two Harvard Law professors have joined nearly 140 professors from universities across the country in signing a public letter that critiques what the authors call “victim-centered practices” in higher education sexual harassment policies and procedures. Law professors Janet E. Halley and Elizabeth Bartholet ’62 signed the letter three weeks ago, along with academics hailing from institutions including Northwestern University and the University of Pennsylvania Law School...“I signed it because I thought it was correct. I’ve seen the bad effects of politically slanted training,” Halley said.

  • At Yale, Trying Campus Rape in a Court of Law

    February 26, 2018

    The details of that night in New Haven were not all that different from many others. There was the off-campus party. The alcohol. The attempts the next morning to make sense of the memories that weren’t there, and the used condoms that were. What was different was what came next: the report to the police. The prosecutors pressing charges. And now, the trial. ... “This isn’t about which institution is better,” said Janet Halley, a Harvard Law School professor who has written about the legal implications of Title IX enforcement. “It’s about what happens when you put two institutions into the same process and they have different rationalities, different institutional cultures — but above all different rights attached to them.

  • Students taking photo of plaque that recognizes the enslaved people who were integral to the founding of Harvard Law School.


    November 29, 2017

    On a clear, windy afternoon in early September at the opening of its bicentennial observance, Harvard Law School unveiled a memorial on campus.

  • Betsy DeVos Launches Reform Effort On Campus Sexual Assault Policy (audio)

    September 27, 2017

    Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has kicked off an effort to reform how the federal government advises colleges and universities about handling sexual misconduct. Critics are worried the process will roll back protections for victims of sexual assault, but feminist Harvard Law Professor Janet Halley says reform is necessary.

  • DeVos rescinds Obama-era guidance on investigating campus sexual assault

    September 25, 2017

    Citing a key federal court ruling in a Brandeis University case, the Trump administration on Friday advised college officials across the country to evaluate sexual misconduct claims by the same standard of evidence they use for any other student infractions. The move by Education Secretary Betsy DeVos could make it tougher to prove allegations of sexual assault at some universities...“I think that a lot of people are reacting with panic,” said Janet Halley, a Harvard Law School professor and expert on sexual harassment.

  • Surprisingly, some feminist lawyers side with Trump and DeVos on campus assault policy

    September 15, 2017

    When Education Secretary Betsy DeVos last week announced plans to revise the nation’s guidelines on campus sexual assault, the predictable din of outrage drowned out the applause from some unlikely corners of college campuses: Many liberals actually approve...“Betsy DeVos and I don’t have many overlapping normative and political views,” said Janet Halley, a Harvard Law School professor and expert on sexual harassment who supports the change. “But I’m a human being, and I’m entitled to say what I think.”...Also among them were four feminist professors who wrote a letter to the Department of Education last month beseeching DeVos’s department for a revision of the rule. Definitions of sexual wrongdoing are now far too broad, they wrote...The authors — Halley, Elizabeth Bartholet, Nancy Gertner, and Jeannie Suk Gersen — have all researched, taught, and written about sexual assault and feminist legal reform for years. Halley, who has represented both accusers and the accused in campus cases, said her colleagues maintain universities should have robust programs against sexual assault.

  • Looking back at the founding of Harvard Law School

    Looking back at the founding of Harvard Law School

    September 13, 2017

    To officially open Harvard Law School’s Bicentennial celebration, a panel of Harvard Law School faculty members gathered on Sept. 5 to discuss the law school’s early history.

  • The Question of Race in Campus Sexual-Assault Cases

    September 12, 2017

    The archetypal image of the campus rapist is a rich, white fraternity athlete. The case of Brock Turner—the freshman swimmer at Stanford University convicted last year of sexually assaulting an unconscious woman after meeting her at a party, but sentenced to only six months in jail—reinforced this...How race plays into the issue of campus sexual assault is almost completely unacknowledged by the government...Janet Halley, a professor at Harvard Law School and a self-described feminist, is one of the few people who have publicly addressed the role of race in campus sexual assault. Interracial assault allegations, she notes, are a category that bears particular scrutiny...Since there are no national statistics on how many young men of any given race are the subject of campus-sexual-assault complaints, we are left with anecdotes about men of color being accused and punished. There are many such anecdotes. In 2015, in The New Yorker, Jeannie Suk Gersen, a Harvard Law School professor, wrote that in general, the administrators and faculty members she’s spoken with who “routinely work on sexual-misconduct cases” say that “most of the complaints they see are against minorities.”

  • Education Secretary DeVos Signals Changes to Obama-Era Campus Assault Policy (audio)

    September 11, 2017

    An interview with Janet Halley. On Thursday Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced the department would begin the process of changing regulations dealing with campus sexual assaults. DeVos said the Obama-era policies have “failed too many students” and stressed focusing on the rights of victims and the accused. Critics argue DeVos’s plan is an attack on sexual assault survivors, while others applaud possible changes to a system they say denies due process and free speech. We discuss the announcement and its possible effects.

  • DeVos Pledges to Restore Due Process

    September 8, 2017

    ...As four Harvard law professors— Jeannie Suk Gersen, Janet Halley, Elizabeth Bartholet and Nancy Gertnerargued in a recent article, a fair process requires “neutral decisionmakers who are independent of the school’s [federal regulatory] compliance interest, and independent decisionmakers providing a check on arbitrary and unlawful decisions.” The four had been among more than two dozen Harvard law professors to express concerns about the Obama administration’s—and Harvard’s—handling of Title IX.

  • DeVos Title IX Review Sparks Concern From Activists

    September 8, 2017

    The Department of Education will review a series of Title IX guidelines that spurred Harvard and universities across the country to overhaul their response to sexual assault on campus, drawing concern from some anti-sexual assault activists at Harvard. During a speech at George Mason University Thursday, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos said the department will reconsider the Obama-era policies after a public review process...Harvard Law professor Janet Halley—who is part of a group of Law School faculty who have repeatedly criticized Obama-era Title IX guidance—said she is pleased DeVos is seeking public input. Halley and three other Law School professors sent a memo to the Department of Education in August, urging the department to scale back its definition of sexual harassment. “She’s going to go for public comment, which the previous administration never did on this issue. That’s more democratic and I think that’s a good thing,” Halley said, although she later added, “I am by no means declaring an alliance with the Trump administration.”

  • Harvard Law Unveils Monument to Donor’s Slaves

    September 7, 2017

    ...Law dean John Manning said at a dedication ceremony Tuesday that the law school should be open about its origins and ties to the slave trade. “Our school was founded with wealth generated through the profoundly immoral institution of slavery,”...The text of the plaque was drafted by history and law professor Annette Gordon-Reed, who has written extensively on Thomas Jefferson’s slaves...Gordon-Reed noted during the dedication ceremony on Tuesday that the memorial does not include the names of the slaves whose toil helped fund the law school’s founding, because many of their names are unknown. “The words are designed to invoke all of their spirits and bring them into our minds and our memories with the hope that it will spur us to try to bring to the world what was not give to them: the law’s protection and regard, and justice.” But some slave names were recorded in documents, which were read aloud at the dedication by law professor Janet Halley.

  • “To Be True to Our Complicated History”

    September 7, 2017

    Midway through the list of names was when the crowd fell fully silent. Some 300 people, suddenly pinned in place, stood motionless in a half-circle around the outdoor podium where Janet Halley, Royall professor of law, was reading out the names of slaves who’d once belonged to Isaac Royall Jr., the eighteenth-century sugar-plantation owner whose fortune endowed Halley’s professorship and helped establish Harvard Law School...Inside Wasserstein Hall earlier in the evening, listeners had heard some of that complicated history from Warren visiting professor of American legal history Daniel Coquillette. The author of On the Battlefield of Merit: Harvard Law School, the First Century, he spoke not only about Royall, a brutal slave owner whose plantation in Antigua was notorious (he kept a 500-acre farm in Medford, too), but also about the school’s connections to the Fugitive Slave Act of 1793—which most faculty members at the time strongly supported, Coquillette sai...After Coquillette’s remarks—and a panel discussion that followed, with Halley, Warren professor of American legal history Annette Gordon-Reed, Klein professor of law Randall Kennedy, and Schipper professor of law Bruce Mann—audience members filed out into the courtyard to see the new memorial revealed.

  • At Law School, honor for the enslaved

    September 7, 2017

    As part of Harvard University’s efforts to recognize its early ties to slavery, officials yesterday unveiled a memorial to honor the enslaved people whose work helped found Harvard Law School...Recognizing the legacy of slavery at the Law School is important for coming to terms with the past and for reminding future lawyers of their duty to make the legal system wiser and fairer, said John F. Manning, the School’s Morgan and Helen Chu Dean and professor of law...[Annette] Gordon-Reed, who has written extensively about slavery and who drafted the words on the plaque, said the memorial doesn’t contain names because it’s impossible to know the identities of all the Africans the Royalls enslaved in Antigua and Medford, whose work built much of the wealth used to found the Law School...In a touching moment during the ceremony, Janet Halley, the Royall Professor of Law, who has spoken openly about the connections between her chair and slavery, read aloud the names of those enslaved who were found listed in the Royalls’ records.

  • The Uncomfortable Truth About Campus Rape Policy

    September 7, 2017

    ...There is no doubt that until recently, many women’s claims of sexual assault were reflexively and widely disregarded—or that many still are in some quarters...Action to redress that problem was—and is—fully warranted. But many of the remedies that have been pushed on campus in recent years are unjust to men, infantilize women, and ultimately undermine the legitimacy of the fight against sexual violence...As Jeannie Suk Gersen and her husband and Harvard Law School colleague, Jacob Gersen, wrote last year in a California Law Review article, “The Sex Bureaucracy,” the “conduct classified as illegal” on college campuses “has grown substantially, and indeed, it plausibly covers almost all sex students are having today.”...In a 2015 article for the Harvard Law Review, Janet Halley, a Harvard law professor, describes a case at an Oregon college in which a male student was investigated and told to stay away from a female student, resulting in the loss of his campus job and a move from his dorm.

  • Law School Unveils Slavery Monument, Reflects on History

    September 6, 2017

    Harvard Law School unveiled a memorial dedicated to slaves owned by the Royall family, whose donations helped endow the institution, at an event Tuesday evening. The plaque, which sits on a rock in the plaza between Langdell Hall and the Caspersen Student Center, reads, “In honor of the enslaved whose labor created wealth that made possible the founding of Harvard Law School. May we pursue the highest ideals of law and justice in their memory.” University President Drew G. Faust, newly appointed Dean of the Law School John F. Manning, and Law School professors Annette Gordon-Reed and Janet E. Halley each spoke at the dedication...Adrian D. Perkins, a member of the school’s student government, said seeing the monument gave him “profound happiness” as a student leader and African American student. He said the student government is planning a number of ways to address racial concerns on campus this year.

  • Harvard Law School unveils memorial honoring enslaved people who enabled its founding 2

    Harvard Law School unveils memorial honoring enslaved people who enabled its founding

    September 5, 2017

    On Sept. 5, at the opening of its Bicentennial observance, Harvard Law School unveiled a memorial to the enslaved people whose labor helped make possible the founding of the school.

  • Federal guidelines on campus sexual misconduct ‘seriously overbroad’ say some Harvard law faculty

    September 5, 2017

    Four Harvard Law School academics have asked the U.S. Department of Education to revisit policies regarding campus sexual misconduct investigations...The Harvard memo (PDF) was signed by Janet E. Halley, Elizabeth D. Bartholet, and Jeannie Suk Gersen, all of whom are Harvard law professors, and Nancy Gertner, a lecturer at the school who is also a retired federal judge. They submitted the memo to the Department of Education Aug. 21. “Definitions of sexual wrongdoing on college campuses are now seriously overbroad. They go way beyond accepted legal definitions of rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment. They often include sexual conduct that is merely unwelcome, even if it does not create a hostile environment, even if the person accused had no way of knowing it was unwanted, and even if the accuser’s sense that it was unwelcome arose after the encounter,” the memo reads.

  • Law School Faculty Call for Title IX Sexual Assault Policy Changes

    September 1, 2017

    Four Harvard Law School faculty members are pushing for the Department of Education to revise Obama-era Title IX standards governing how universities respond to sexual harassment and assault on campus. In a memo submitted to the Department of Education last week, Law School professors Janet E. Halley, Elizabeth D. Bartholet ’62, and Jeannie Suk Gersen and lecturer Nancy Gertner called on the Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights to reevaluate the standards put forth in the 2011 Dear Colleague Letter.

  • What’s Next on Title IX?

    August 29, 2017

    Title IX is a Nixon-era federal law barring sex discrimination in schools. Under the Obama administration, it became a mandate for colleges to adjudicate claims of sexual misconduct with an imbalanced extrajudicial standard...Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is rightly considering rescinding the preponderance standard and replacing it with a stricter standard of proof...Fans of due process and the rule of law have discerned the problem. Harvard law professor Janet Halley, who investigated sexual misconduct claims as an administrator at Stanford, believes impartial truth-seeking is nearly impossible under the new rules. “We are overcorrecting,” she says. “The procedures that are being adopted are taking us back to pre-Magna Carta, pre-due process procedures.”

  • HLS faculty maintain top position in SSRN citation rankings

    Four Harvard Law faculty ask DOE to change campus sexual-assault policies

    August 28, 2017

    Four members of the Harvard Law School faculty have called on the U.S. Department of Education to revise the Obama Administration’s policies enforcing Title IX in matters of sexual harassment and sexual assault on college and university campuses.

  • Columbia Settles With Student Cast as a Rapist in Mattress Art Project

    July 18, 2017

    It was a performance art piece that became famous: A woman who felt that Columbia University had mishandled her charge of rape against a fellow student turned that anger into her senior arts thesis, a yearlong project in which she carried a 50-pound mattress whenever she was on the Morningside Heights campus...The policies led the government to investigate many universities and colleges, including Columbia, over their handling of sexual assault cases under the federal law known as Title IX, which prohibits gender discrimination by any school that receives federal funding...Janet Halley, a professor at Harvard Law School who has been among the critics of that university’s sexual misconduct procedures, said she was not sure what to think of Columbia’s promise to review its policies. “I can’t tell from this statement whether they’re promising to suppress the speech of someone like Emma Sulkowicz,” she said.

  • The Landmark Sexual Assault Case You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

    April 18, 2017

    ...Campus disciplinary proceedings are, in theory, educational rather than punitive. School officials may hold hearings, take testimony and make factual findings, but they cannot convict or incarcerate—which is why the accused are not entitled to the full range of protections they would have in a court of law. But while the punishment isn’t prison, it can be hugely significant. Janet Halley, a professor at Harvard Law School and a well-respected feminist scholar says, “I would ask people to think, what would it be like if your brother or your son was expelled. It’s not nothing. Its the end of a life plan.”

  • Students, Profs Skeptical of Title IX Office Restructuring

    April 10, 2017

    As Harvard’s Title IX Office splits into two separate offices in response to “community feedback” about the University’s response to sexual assault on campus, some student activists and professors question whether that change will lead to substantive improvements...“In many ways, it seems to be more about optics than about function,” said Katherine Leung [`17], a third-year Law student and co-president of the Harassment Assault Law-Student Team...Concerns about the separation between different stages of Harvard’s response to sexual assault complaints are not new. In 2014, 28 Law professors sharply criticized the University-wide Title IX procedures when they took effect, arguing in an op-ed in the Boston Globe that these procedures put “the functions of investigation, prosecution, fact-finding, and appellate review in one office.” Law professor Janet Halley, who signed the letter, called the new structure “window dressing.” “It does not provide either neutrality or independence of decision-makers handling particular cases,” Halley said. “The Law School procedures show how to do that, and at some point the University is going to need to move to a structure like those."

  • Law School Professors Sign Letter Opposing Sessions Nomination

    January 6, 2017

    Sixteen Harvard Law School faculty members have joined thousands of other law professors across the country in signing a letter opposing Republican U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions’s nomination as United States Attorney General... Law School professor Ronald S. Sullivan Jr., who signed the letter, said Sessions’s record on voting rights, especially for minorities, is deeply troubling to him. “The aim of the letter is to raise the significant issues about voting, which is fundamental to our democratic experiment and, once these issues are raised, we hope that the committee and the citizenry in general would not support this nominee,” Sullivan said. “We certainly think that, party affiliation aside, no Attorney General should have taken such a radical view about voting rights laws.”

  • Harvard Law School: 2016 in review

    December 22, 2016

    A look back at 2016, highlights of the people who visited, events that took place and everyday life at Harvard Law School.