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Michael Klarman

  • Where Roe went wrong: A sweeping new abortion right built on a shaky legal foundation

    May 3, 2022

    Roe vs. Wade, the Supreme Court’s best-known decision of the past 50 years, is also its most endangered precedent. It gave women a nationwide legal right to choose abortion, but the backlash reshaped the nation’s politics. The landmark ruling now faces being overturned by conservative justices appointed by Republican presidents to do just that. What went wrong with Roe? Why did the court’s effort to resolve the abortion controversy in 1973 lead instead to decades of division? ... “The first-trimester/second-trimester dividing line is a big deal,” said Harvard Law School professor Michael Klarman. “It’s why ‘partial-birth’ abortion laws were such a political gold mine for Republicans. Roe created such a broad abortion right that it probably pushed some of the many Americans in the middle of the spectrum on this issue into the opposition.”

  • New book dives deep into lesser known and controversial history of Article 21

    March 14, 2022

    A new book by Rohan J. Alva, counsel at the Supreme Court, gives an eye-opening account on the origins of the most important fundamental right in the Indian Constitution — the right to life and personal liberty guaranteed by Article 21. Titled ‘Liberty after Freedom’, the book explores Article 21 that has, in recent years, made the right to privacy as well as the decriminalisation of homosexuality possible. ... Michael Klarman, professor at Harvard Law, called the book an ambitious and fascinating account, adding that “Alva sheds interesting historical and comparative light on the well-nigh irresolvable conflict between a society’s commitment to protecting the fundamental rights of individuals and constraining the power of unrepresentative and politically less-accountable judges”.

  • Constitutional Originalism: What Is It and How Does It Impact the Supreme Court

    October 4, 2021

    When Republican leaders make judicial appointments, they are often looking for only one thing: whether a candidate adheres to the school of thought known as constitutional originalism. There’s a simple reason for that singular focus. To originalism proponents, it signals that judges will remain steadfast to the intended meaning of the Constitution rather than to the many ways it could be interpreted today. To its detractors, it’s a “dog whistle” to those on the right looking for judges who will consistently rule in a conservative-leaning way. ... Constitutional originalism is loosely defined as interpreting the Constitution “according to the original understanding,” says Harvard Law School professor Michael Klarman. What that means is focusing first and foremost on what the framers intended when they wrote the Constitution. “Originalism has always been around,” Klarman tells Teen Vogue. “When judges interpret the Constitution, one of the things that they do is look at what the terms in the Constitution mean to the generation that wrote them and ratified them.”

  • The Shays’ Rebellion and the Creation of the U.S. Constitution

    May 13, 2021

    Guest: Michael J. Klarman is Kirkland + Ellis Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and author of the Bancroft Prize-winning From Jim Crow to Civil Rights, and his latest, The Framers’ Coup: The Making of the United States Constitution.

  • Senate filibuster’s racist past fuels arguments for its end

    April 12, 2021

    Once obscure, the Senate filibuster is coming under fresh scrutiny not only because of the enormous power it gives a single senator to halt President Joe Biden's agenda, but as a tool historically used for racism. Senators and those advocating for changes to the practice say the procedure that allows endless debate is hardly what the founders intended, but rather a Jim Crow-relic whose time is up...The debate ahead is no longer just academic, but one that could make or break Biden's agenda in the split 50-50 Senate. Carrying echoes of that earlier Civil Rights era, the Senate is poised to consider a sweeping elections and voting rights bill that has been approved by House Democrats but is running into a Senate Republican filibuster...Harvard Law professor Michael Klarman said while the filibuster may not in itself be racist, it certainly has been used that way in the past — as well as in the present. "There's nothing partisan about saying the filibuster has mostly been used for racist reasons, I think everybody would agree that that's true," he said.

  • The Democrats’ Last Chance to Save Democracy

    February 23, 2021

    An op-ed by Michael KlarmanSupporters of donald trump assaulted the capitol on January 6, 2021, but American democracy has been under siege for far longer—from both former President Trump and the Republican Party. Trump’s transgressions against democracy are well known: They include having attacked the press as the “enemy of the people,” assailed sitting judges, politicized the Justice Department and the intelligence agencies, undermined transparency in government, encouraged political violence, and delegitimized elections. The Republican Party’s undermining of democracy began much earlier. Since about 2000, the party has tried to suppress Democratic votes through stringent voter-identification laws and purges of voter rolls. In addition, Republican legislatures have grotesquely gerrymandered legislative districts, enabling Republicans to maintain control of state legislatures and, at times, the House of Representatives, while failing to win majorities of the vote. Republicans have also erected obstaclesto college students’ voting, delayed elections that they anticipated they would lose, and eviscerated the powers of Democratic governors. Republican state legislators have also rejected the results of voter initiatives and imposed obstacles to putting such initiatives on the ballot in the first place.

  • President Donald Trump standing between large white columns of the White House.

    Trump impeached

    January 14, 2021

    Five Harvard Law faculty react to the unprecedented second impeachment of President Donald J. Trump.

  • Democrats cite rarely used part of 14th Amendment in new impeachment article

    January 12, 2021

    In search of historical guidance and legal tools to respond to the violent siege of the U.S. Capitol last week, members of Congress and legal scholars alike are re-examining a little known section of a Reconstruction-era constitutional amendment. Section 3 of the 14th Amendment, in theory, gives Congress the authority to bar public officials, who specifically took an oath of allegiance to the U.S. Constitution, from holding office if they "engaged in insurrection or rebellion" against the Constitution and therefore broke their oath. But the provision has rarely been used or tested, and so scholars are unsure about how exactly Congress could exercise authority under this provision and to what end today...Michael Klarman, constitutional law scholar at Harvard Law School, though told ABC News in email that he believes that applying Section 3 of the 14th Amendment to disqualify from office a member who questioned the legitimacy of the election, based on the events from last week was "a real stretch." He added that "insurrection" and "rebellion" are "legal terms with established meaning. ... I just don't think Wednesday's event would qualify." "While (Sens.) Hawley and Cruz are despicable, and I have signed the petition calling for their disbarment, it seems a huge stretch to me to describe what they did (Wednesday) as 'insurrection or rebellion,'" Klarman wrote.

  • Is this a coup? Here’s some history and context to help you decide

    January 7, 2021

    Are Americans witnessing a coup? Before the storming of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, the case was arguable, but not a slam dunk. After the Capitol was breached, the case became more clear cut, experts say. The questions stem from President Donald Trump’s reaction to losing the 2020 presidential election. Trump and his supporters have filed a string of lawsuits rejected by the courts, sought to strong-arm local officials into changing the results, and suggested incorrectly that Vice President Mike Pence could overturn the will of the electoral college as he presided over the counting of the ballots. Whether the U.S. was witnessing a coup seemed speculative until the violent overrun of the House and Senate on the day the Electoral College votes were supposed to be counted, officially certifying Biden’s victory...All this seems to fit the category of a "sudden and irregular (i.e., illegal or extra-legal) removal, or displacement, of the executive authority of an independent government." It was sudden, laws were broken, and official functions of the government were displaced. (For this to apply, one has to envision President-elect Joe Biden as the "executive authority," rather than Trump, the incumbent but lame duck president.) "Invading the national legislature through force sounds like a coup; peaceful protest is obviously not," said Michael Klarman, a Harvard Law School professor.

  • Will the Supreme Court Overturn the Election Result?

    November 9, 2020

    Harvard Law professor Michael Klarman is a legal historian and scholar of constitutional law. He clerked for Ruth Bader Ginsburg when she was a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Klarman’s book From Jim Crow to Civil Rights: The Supreme Court and the Struggle for Racial Equality received the 2005 Bancroft Prize in History. Will the new 6-3 Republican Supreme Court intervene to help Donald Trump steal what now looks to be a convincing Biden win? And will Democrats be able to put America back on course to reclaim its democracy? Harvard Law professor Michael Klarman provides reassurance on both counts. Robert Kuttner: “Do you think the Supreme Court has enough of a regard for its own credibility and enough respect for basic democratic norms that even this Court will be hesitant to overturn the results of the 2020 election, assuming Biden does win Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin? When will we have some sense of whether the Court is unwilling to do Trump’s political bidding by overturning the election results?” Michael Klarman: “The Court isn’t going to overturn the election result. The election isn’t close enough for any of Trump’s litigation to affect the result. What the president wants is to stop the counting of votes in Pennsylvania (while demanding that vote counting continues in Arizona!). But there is no legal controversy about the votes in Pennsylvania. They were received before election night. There is no question they should count. The Pennsylvania legislature should have changed the law to allow them to be counted before Election Day, as many other states permit, but Republicans in the legislature would not allow this, perhaps because they wanted to support Trump’s fraudulent claim that votes counted after election night are fraudulent.”

  • Does the Supreme Court Look or Think Like America?

    September 28, 2020

    The addition of Amy Coney Barrett to the U.S. Supreme Court will maintain the number of female justices, but the composition of the panel continues to look quite different than the rest of America in gender, race and religion as well as on certain key policy issues. If she’s approved by the Senate, Barrett is expected to be another conservative voice on a court that’s mostly white, male and Catholic. In an era of increasing questions about systemic racism in the judicial system, the court may find itself out-of-step with the rest of the country if the November election results in a substantial shift to the left. “Obviously, demography and anything else that shape one’s experience affects how one thinks about the world and thus one’s judging,” said Michael Klarman, a professor at Harvard Law School. “Chief Justice Roberts implicitly denies this when he talks about judges calling balls and strikes, but I think most people acknowledge that a judge’s experience cannot somehow be abandoned when donning robes.” Some of the issues on which the court may come to be at odds with public opinion include abortion, which 79% of Americans say should be legal, at least under certain circumstances, and upholding the Affordable Care Act, which is viewed favorably by 49% of Americans according to a September Kaiser Family Foundation Health tracking poll, compared to 42% who view the law unfavorably.

  • Harvard Law School honors Ginsburg

    September 28, 2020

    During her first year as the sole woman on the US Supreme Court in 2006, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote a foreword for a biography of the 19th-century lawyer Belva Ann Lockwood and presented the book to a new law clerk in her chambers. On Thursday, the clerk, Daphna Renan, now a professor at Harvard Law School, highlighted the foreword as an example of how Ginsburg broke barriers for women while simultaneously honoring her predecessors in the fight for equality. “Justice Ginsburg was a giant in the law, a luminary, and a leader, as you’ve heard, but she was always ... keenly aware of those who paved the way for her even as she trained her sights on how she could better pave it for others,” Renan said. She delivered the remarks during a virtual Harvard Law School event honoring Ginsburg, who died last Friday...Harvard Law’s current dean, John F. Manning, said the institution regrets the discrimination Ginsburg endured on campus. “It is hard to imagine a more consequential life, a life of greater meaning, and more lasting impact. And Justice Ginsburg did all of this while carrying the heavy weight imposed by discrimination,” he said. “To our eternal regret, she encountered it here at Harvard Law School.” The virtual event included tributes from Tomiko Brown-Nagin, dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and Harvard Law professors Vicki Jackson, Martha Minow, and Michael Klarman...Brown-Nagin’s remarks explored what Ginsburg’s death means to the civil rights movement and comparisons between Ginsburg and the late Justice Thurgood Marshall, the first Black man to serve on the Supreme Court. Beyond fighting for women’s rights, Brown-Nagin said, Ginsburg had a deep understanding of racial discrimination and poured that insight into cases dealing with race. She cited Ginsburg’s dissent in a 1995 school desegregation case in Missouri in which the justice wrote it was too soon to curtail efforts to combat racial segregation given the state’s history of racial inequality. “The Court stresses that the present remedial programs have been in place for seven years,” Ginsburg wrote. “But compared to more than two centuries of firmly entrenched official discrimination, the experience with the desegregation remedies ordered by the [lower court] has been evanescent.” Ginsburg was, Brown-Nagin said, a “tremendous intellect, a courageous human being, and a giant of the law.”

  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg arriving at the State of The Union, wlaking down the aisle surrounded by justices and members of Congress.

    ‘It’s hard to imagine a more consequential life’

    September 25, 2020

    Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s influence on Harvard Law School runs deep. On Thursday, September 24, a star team of Harvard deans and HLS professors remembered Ginsburg as a teacher, boss, colleague, inspiration and friend.

  • Ex-RBG law clerk: My two favorite stories about Ginsburg

    September 22, 2020

    An article by Michael KlarmanRuth Bader Ginsburg was appointed to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit by President Jimmy Carter in 1980, and to the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton in 1993. I had the good fortune to clerk for her when she was on the DC Circuit. Like most of Ginsburg's law clerks, I relished the experience, admiring her legal brilliance, learning from her exemplary writing skills, and both respecting and liking her as a person. But as any of us would tell you, Ginsburg -- extraordinary as she was -- was not an ordinary, down-to-earth sort of person. Conversations with her could be awkward because she always thought carefully before speaking, did not waste words, and declined to engage in small talk. Thus, conversations with her often featured long pauses, while you tried to figure out if she was finished speaking and it was now your turn, or she was still formulating her thoughts. You certainly did not want to interrupt her in mid-thought. I have two favorite stories about Ginsburg from my clerkship that I like to share with my students. I'll recount the first of them up here. Both have to do with sports -- an obsession of mine that the Justice did not share. Soon after her appointment to the DC Circuit, the Washington football team won the Super Bowl, and there was a celebratory parade down Constitution Avenue, which runs right beside the courthouse. Ginsburg asked her secretary what the noise was about. "Why, judge, that's the Super Bowl parade," her secretary replied. To which Ginsburg responded, "What's the Super Bowl?" Ginsburg was the leading women's rights lawyer of the 1970s, the decade when the Supreme Court first recognized that the Fourteenth Amendment guaranteed sex equality. When President Clinton nominated her to the high court, he rightly compared her contributions to women's rights to those of the great NAACP lawyer Thurgood Marshall to civil rights. Ginsburg's life encapsulated what the professional world was like for women 60 years ago and how much it has changed since then. When she entered Harvard Law School in 1956, she was one of only nine women in a class of more than 500.

  • Ex-RBG law clerk: My two favorite stories about Ginsburg

    September 20, 2020

    An op-ed by Michael Klarman: Ruth Bader Ginsburg was appointed to the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit by President Jimmy Carter in 1980, and to the Supreme Court by President Bill Clinton in 1993. I had the good fortune to clerk for her when she was on the DC Circuit. ... I have two favorite stories about Ginsburg from my clerkship that I like to share with my students. I'll recount the first of them up here. Both have to do with sports -- an obsession of mine that the Justice did not share. Soon after her appointment to the DC Circuit, the Washington football team won the Super Bowl, and there was a celebratory parade down Constitution Avenue, which runs right beside the courthouse. Ginsburg asked her secretary what the noise was about. "Why, judge, that's the Super Bowl parade," her secretary replied. To which Ginsburg responded, "What's the Super Bowl?"

  • ‘We have lost a giant’: Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933-2020)

    September 19, 2020

    U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ’56-58, whose lifelong fight for equal rights helped pave the way for women to take on high-profile roles in business, government, the military, and the Supreme Court, died on Sept. 18. She was 87. “Justice Ginsburg personified the best of what it meant to be a judge. She brought a deep intellectual and personal integrity to everything she did,” said John F. Manning ’85, Morgan and Helen Chu Dean and Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. “... We have lost a giant.” ... “Very few individuals in history come close to the extraordinary and significant role played by Justice Ginsburg in the pursuit of justice before she joined the bench,” said former Harvard Law School Dean Martha Minow, the 300th Anniversary University Professor at Harvard. ... “The Constitution’s heart aches at Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing,” Laurence Tribe ’66, the Carl M. Loeb University Professor, Emeritus, at Harvard Law School. ... Harvard Law School Professor Daphna Renan, who served as a law clerk for Justice Ginsburg during the 2006-2007 term, said: “RBG was tenacious, unflappable, and deeply wise.

  • ‘We have lost a giant’: Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933–2020)

    September 19, 2020

    U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg ’56-58, whose lifelong fight for equal rights helped pave the way for women to take on high-profile roles in business, government, the military, and the Supreme Court, died on Sept. 18. She was 87.

  • Could Trump declare national coronavirus shutdown? Momentum is rising

    March 23, 2020

    Momentum appears to be building for a national shutdown to confront the coronavirus crisis, raising the prospect that President Trump could issue an order requiring people to stay at home. Such an order would be unprecedented in American history, but some of Trump's top advisers have said publicly they would be open to it. Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said Sunday he had raised the prospect of such a dramatic step with the administration...What such an order at the federal level might look like — and even whether Trump has the authority to issue an order — is unclear, because no president had ever tried it before. “I don’t think Congress has ever authorized the president to issue a curfew or a shelter-in-place order,” said Michael Klarman, a constitutional law expert at Harvard Law School. “I’m sure the Trump people will think Trump can do whatever he thinks is necessary to protect the nation’s health. I have a hard time imagining this Supreme Court ruling otherwise. And I have little doubt Trump would violate a court order anyway if he thought he could get away with it.”

  • Panel discussing the 19th Amendment Centennial and The Equal Rights Amendment, L-R: Julie Suk, Jill Lepore, Michael Klarman.

    Experts trace the history of the Equal Rights Amendment

    March 13, 2020

    To commemorate International Women’s Day, a team of experts met at Harvard Law School on March 9 to trace the history of the Equal Rights Amendment to date, and to argue for its importance going forward.

  • Harvard experts reflect on some of the most important moments and cultural trends

    December 24, 2019

    Adiós, 2010s. The 2020s are here. But before the clock strikes midnight on the decade, the Gazette asked Harvard experts to weigh in on the biggest events and most important cultural shifts of the past 10 years.... Equally important, unlike with Brown, Obergefell failed to produce a wave of massive resistance. To be sure, a county clerk in eastern Kentucky briefly went to jail rather than grant marriage licenses to gay couples, and a state Supreme Court justice in Alabama shouted defiance at the Supreme Court’s ruling (much as an Alabama governor had shouted defiance of Brown more than 50 years earlier). But almost everywhere else in the U.S., the court’s ruling was peacefully implemented. The sky did not fall, and gay and lesbian couples began to enjoy a basic human right that had long been wrongfully denied to them. Michael Klarman Kirkland & Ellis Professor at Harvard Law School and the author of “From the Closet to the Altar: Courts, Backlash, and the Struggle for Same-Sex Marriage” (2013).

  • Trump and the Threat to Democracy

    December 12, 2019

    An article by Michael KlarmanThe topic of this article is not politics or policy but rather democracy. Regardless of what one thinks of building walls at the border with Mexico, repealing Obamacare, or withdrawing the United States from the Paris accords on global climate change, one would think that Americans could agree on the importance of respecting certain basic norms of democracy. The evidence I cite in this article suggests that Trump is an existential threat to those norms. Yet he continues to enjoy strong backing from a little more than 40 percent of the American public and from 85 to 90 percent of the Republican Party. How can this be?

  • Trump’s Ukraine shakedown

    December 4, 2019

    An article by Michael KlarmanOn Wednesday, the House Judiciary Committee will convene a panel of constitutional scholars to provide historical context for the impeachment inquiry and particularly the meaning of the Constitution’s impeachment standard of “treason, bribery, or high crimes and misdemeanors.” Were I appearing on that panel, this is what I would say: Much of the research for the statement derives from my work on “The Framers’ Coup: The Making of the United States Constitution." On July 25, 2019, President Trump asked Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky for “a favor.” Considering the evidence unearthed by the House Intelligence Committee in its totality, and keeping in mind that impeachment proceedings do not require us to suspend our common sense, it is clear that President Trump conditioned a much sought-after White House visit for the Ukrainian president, as well as the delivery of nearly $400 million appropriated by Congress for Ukrainian defense, on the Ukrainian government’s doing Trump two personal favors.

  • Politifact: Donald Trump Says Impeachment is a Coup

    November 26, 2019

    Amid the pressure of a House impeachment inquiry, President Donald Trump has continued to stoke the idea that he’s the victim of a coup — shorthand for "coup d’etat," a French term that means the overthrow of the government...The key element of a coup is that it is carried out beyond the bounds of legality...Impeachment is explicitly described in the Constitution as the way to remove a president who has committed "high crimes and misdemeanors." Michael Klarman, a Harvard Law School professor, told us that you can’t get much more within the bounds of legality than an explicit power outlined in the Constitution. "It’s obviously not a coup for the House to launch impeachment proceedings," Klarman told us in early October.

  • Michael Klarman speaking at Harvard Law School on Constitution Day

    On Constitution Day, Klarman delivers a talk on the framers and the making of the Constitution

    September 19, 2019

    In commemoration of Constitution Day, Harvard Law School Professor Michael Klarman, an expert on constitutional law and constitutional history, delivered a talk titled "The Framers and the Making of the Constitution."

  • Illustration of cords being plugged into the White House.

    Presidential Power Surges

    July 17, 2019

    Particular moments in history and strategic breaks with unwritten rules have helped many U.S. presidents expand their powers incrementally, leading some to wonder how wide-ranging presidential powers can be.

  • Presidential Power Surges

    July 9, 2019

    Particular moments in history and strategic breaks with unwritten rules have helped many presidents expand their powers incrementally, leading some to wonder how wide-ranging presidential powers can be. [With comments from Noah Feldman, Mark TushnetMichael KlarmanJack GoldsmithDaphna Renan, and Neil Eggleston].

  • Michael Klarman last lecture

    The work of pioneering civil rights lawyers evinces hope and resilience in today’s political landscape, says Klarman

    May 9, 2019

    For his 'last lecture' to graduating J.D.s and LL.M.s, Professor Michael Klarman invoked two inspiring figures in legal history: Thurgood Marshall and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

  • Fact-check: No, Donald Trump was not the target of a coup

    May 2, 2019

    On several occasions, President Donald Trump has used the word “coup” to describe efforts by law enforcement to investigate influence by Russia on the 2016 election. “This was a coup,” Trump said during an interview with Sean Hannity of Fox News in April. “This was an attempted overthrow of the United States government.” ...Michael Klarman, a Harvard Law School professor, told PolitiFact that the Russia investigation “is not a coup, because the FBI had very good reasons for commencing an investigation of Trump. It beggars belief that anyone in the FBI had the intention of subverting a duly elected president.”

  • MLK’S Constitutional Legacy

    January 25, 2019

    In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, this episode celebrates King’s life and work, his vision for America, and his fight to pass landmark civil rights laws and realize the promises of the Constitution. Civil rights and constitutional law experts Michael Klarman of Harvard Law and Theodore M. Shaw of UNC Law join host Lana Ulrich to explore King’s constitutional legacy, shed light on the relationship between litigation and activism, and contemplate whether the Civil Rights Movement would have happened without King. PARTICIPANTS: Michael Klarman is the Kirkland & Ellis Professor at Harvard Law School specializing in constitutional law and constitutional history.

  • Past Midterms, Some Zero In on Amending Constitution

    November 5, 2018

    Whatever success Republicans have amassed in taking control of all three branches of U.S. government, and whatever fate awaits them as midterm elections near, some on the right are working to cement change by amending the Constitution. And to the mounting alarm of others on all parts of the spectrum, they want to bypass the usual process...But convention opponents have always feared that once one has been launched, it could tear up the Constitutions in all sorts of ways. What's to stop a convention from passing an abhorrent affront to the Founders, like an outright ban on Muslims, asks constitutional law professor Michael Klarman of Harvard University. He points to a 2009 Swiss referendum that resulted in outlawing the construction of minarets, the towers found beside mosques.

  • A 14th Amendment primer

    November 1, 2018

    President Trump’s pledge to sign an executive order in an effort to abolish the constitutional guarantee of birthright citizenship has focused attention on the 14th Amendment, which states that anyone born in the country is an American citizen....“The idea that the president has the power to end birthright citizenship, plainly protected by Section 1 of the Fourteenth Amendment, by executive order is preposterous,” said Michael Klarman, a professor at Harvard Law School. “Constitutional scholars who agree about little else have agreed about this for over a century.”

  • These 3 Midterms Elections Prove That Off-Year Elections Really Matter

    October 26, 2018

    The 2018 midterm elections are on November 6 and will give voters the opportunity to weigh in on what’s going on in Washington...According to [Professor Michael Klarman, a professor of constitutional law at Harvard Law School, Democrats swept the 1874 midterms, essentially ending Reconstruction. The period following was sometimes referred to as “deconstruction,” which Klarman tells Teen Vogue “virtually ensured the demise of Reconstruction” and meant “no new civil rights legislation.”

  • Why Democrats Should Pack the Supreme Court

    October 15, 2018

    An op-ed by Michael Klarman. Despite Democrats’ having won the popular vote in six of the last seven presidential elections, the Supreme Court has not had a liberal majority since 1969. Because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell straight-out stole the seat vacated by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia early in 2016, a seat that should have been filled by President Barack Obama’s nominee (Merrick Garland), liberals are unlikely to control the Court for at least another couple of decades. As has been frequently noted, recently appointed Justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh were nominated to the Court by a president who lost the popular vote by nearly three million votes, and were then confirmed by a majority of senators who represented minorities of the American population.

  • Why Did The Framers Give Lifetime Tenure To Supreme Court Justices?

    October 3, 2018

    ..."They’re following a precedent from Great Britain, which was followed by most but not all of the states, which is the idea of tenure during good behavior," said Harvard Law Professor Michael Klarman, author of "Constitutional Convention." Klarman said the reason for that lifetime appointment was simple: To cultivate judicial independence. If you never have to worry about being re-elected or re-appointed then, "there’s no reason to tailor your decisions to the pleasure of the institution that does the appointing," Klarman said.

  • The Making of the U.S. Constitution (audio)

    September 27, 2018

    According to Professor Michael Klarman “it is important to tell the story of the Constitution’s origins in a way that demystifies it. Impressive as they were, the men who wrote the Constitution were not demigods; they had interests, prejudices, and moral blind spots.” Invocations of divine inspiration for the Constitution by supporters of ratification were, at least in part, a conscious political strategy to maximize the chances of ratifying it.

  • Some Harvard Law Professors Call for Investigation into Kavanaugh Allegations

    September 26, 2018

    Several Harvard Law School professors said they were troubled by the sexual assault allegations recently levelled against Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh and called for further investigation into his alleged misbehavior...Law School Professor Michael J. Klarman, a constitutional law scholar, wrote in an email Sunday that, while some have argued that Kavanaugh’s actions as a 17-year-old are not relevant to the judge's ability to serve on the Court, he does not buy that reasoning.“I certainly agree with the idea that we should be pretty forgiving toward youthful mistakes. But attempted rape is a really serious charge. And serving on the Supreme Court is a privilege, not a right,” Klarman wrote...Law Professor Laurence H. Tribe ’62 took his views on the Kavanaugh confirmation process to Twitter Monday. “Closing ranks around Kavanaugh even before Dr.Blasey Ford testifies is proof positive that these Trumpsters either (1) don’t regard an attempted rape and a nominee’s false denials as relevant and/or (2) are ready to disbelieve her without listening,” Tribe wrote. Tribe expanded on his thoughts in an email to The Crimson...Law Professor Elizabeth Bartholet ’62 wrote via email that the Thursday hearings should be postponed pending an investigation.

  • Early Arrivals

    Early Arrivals

    August 24, 2018

    On Tuesday, Aug. 21, Harvard Law School’s Graduate Program officially welcomed the LL.M. Class of 2019 -- 188 students from 65 countries who will spend the upcoming academic year pursuing a Master of Laws degree -- along with six students set to begin their studies for the Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) degree.

  • Could hard-right Supreme Court haunt GOP? History says maybe

    August 7, 2018

    It’s of little worry for Republicans or solace for Democrats bracing for battle over Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to fill the Supreme Court vacancy. Yet history suggests that if President Donald Trump cements an assertively conservative court for a generation, the GOP may ultimately pay a political price...“In a democracy, what matters is winning votes,” said Michael Klarman, a Harvard Law School professor who has studied constitutional history. “And you shouldn’t trust the courts to win your battles for you, because there’s going to be a backlash if they go too far, too fast.“

  • The Constitution

    Are there holes in the Constitution?

    July 27, 2018

    To gain a better understanding of some of the issues increasingly in play in today's political climate, the Gazette interviewed Mark Tushnet, Michael Klarman, Steven Levitsky, and Steven Jarding--Harvard faculty members who have expertise in constitutional law and legal history, democratic and authoritarian governments, and American politics.

  • Military, veterans study at Harvard

    Military, veterans study at Harvard

    July 24, 2018

    This year marks the fifth that Harvard has been a host of the summertime program known as the Warrior-Scholar Project, an academic boot camp intended to help provide members of the armed forces or those recently discharged with the skills and confidence to transition to top-tier colleges.

  • Military, veterans study at Harvard

    July 17, 2018

    ...Monday’s seminar was part of the Warrior-Scholar Project, an academic boot camp intended to help provide members of the armed forces or those recently discharged with the skills and confidence to transition to top-tier colleges. This marks the fifth year that Harvard has been a host of the summertime program that is offered at 17 major universities nationwide...Michael J. Klarman, the Kirkland & Ellis Professor at Harvard Law School, is now in his third year teaching a boot camp seminar. He said the experience has been rewarding.“The Warrior/Scholars are engaged, well-prepared, intellectually curious, and full of interesting ideas and questions,” he said by email.

  • Why Did The Framers Give The President A Pardon Power?

    June 15, 2018

    The Presidential pardon power is as old as the United States itself. But few Presidents — if any — have thrown this constitutionally enshrined power into the spotlight like Donald Trump. In recent weeks Trump and his lawyers have even suggested he has the power to pardon himself. All this talk got me curious. Just why was the president given the power to pardon in the first place? As Harvard Law School’s Michael Klarman explained to me, it goes back to the 55 men who met in Philadelphia to create the U.S. Constitution. "The main model they have is Great Britain," he explained. "There are lots of things in the Constitution that are directly derived from British practice."

  • An Inflection Point: High Stakes as Harvard Admissions Trial Approaches

    May 23, 2018

    Almost 50 years after former University President Derek C. Bok’s administration instituted a novel framework for promoting racial diversity throughout the University’s schools, the question of whether Harvard can—or should—pursue race-conscious admissions policies remains unanswered in the national discourse. As the University faces a lawsuit in federal court over their admissions policies from one direction and an investigation led by the Justice Department into these policies from another, the legacy of Bok’s efforts at diversification is on the line, according to University lawyers and affiliates...Michael J. Klarman, a professor of constitutional law at Harvard Law School, said the department’s public, formal intervention in a high-profile affirmative action case is in line with previous Justice Department actions. “I don’t think it’s unusual for an administration to weigh in on an important affirmative action case,” Klarman said. “The Reagan administration certainly weighed in against race-based affirmative action. The Carter administration had a decision on Bakke, which was the first of the affirmative action cases of the Supreme Court.”

  • High Court Balance at Stake as Kennedy Retirement Talk Heats Up

    May 3, 2018

    After 30 years of pivotal decisions on the U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Anthony Kennedy is about to make his biggest one yet. For the second straight year, Kennedy, 81, is the focus of retirement speculation as the court approaches the late-June end of its term. A retirement by the court’s swing justice would give President Donald Trump his second Supreme Court vacancy to fill before Republicans’ Senate majority goes on the November election ballot..."Justice Kennedy is the most influential justice in the history of the Supreme Court, and it’s probably not even close," said Michael Klarman, who teaches constitutional history at Harvard Law School. "It’s almost hard to think of areas where the court divides 5-4 and Justice Kennedy is not the deciding vote."

  • HLS200 finale celebrates clinics

    HLS 200 finale celebrates clinics

    May 2, 2018

    On April 20, HLS in the Community wrapped up a year-long celebration of Harvard Law School's bicentennial by highlighting the contributions made by HLS clinics and students practice organizations (SPOs).

  • HLS in the Community

    Preview: “HLS in the Community” will celebrate clinics and bicentennial finale

    April 9, 2018

    On April 20, Harvard Law School will host the third and final major event in its year-long program celebrating 200 years of HLS. HLS in the Community will convene alumni, faculty, students, and staff to explore the extraordinary reach and impact of Harvard lawyers.

  • How a battle over same-sex marriage 14 years ago sparked Gavin Newsom’s political rise

    February 12, 2018

    Gavin Newsom was a fresh-faced mayor a week into his job when he walked into the House of Representatives chamber for the State of the Union address in January 2004. While he watched from the balcony, President George W. Bush declared his support for a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex unions — inspiring a political gamble that would change lives and transform Newsom’s career...Newsom quickly decided to throw himself into the maelstrom of America’s culture wars, violating state law by granting the first official marriage licenses to same-sex couples 14 years ago Monday...That meant Bush got to appoint two Supreme Court justices, Harvard Law School Professor Michael Klarman pointed out. On the other hand, “the fact that you actually had weddings in San Francisco was incredibly inspiring for a lot of people and activists,” he said, and sparked conversations that changed peoples’ minds on the issue. “Newsom was putting himself on the wrong side of the law, but it was the right side of history.”