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  • When All Nine Justices Agree

    March 13, 2015

    An op-ed by Cass Sunstein. Is law just a form of politics? Is the Supreme Court highly politicized? If you focus on the court’s anticipated divisions over Obamacare and same-sex marriage, you probably think so. But the court’s two dissent-free decisions Monday offer a different picture. They are a triumph for the ideal of a Supreme Court that focuses on law.

  • ‘Blurred Lines’ and Bad Law

    March 13, 2015

    An op-ed by Noah Feldman. If the devolution from Marvin Gaye to Robin Thicke doesn’t stand for the decline of Western civilization, nothing does. The Los Angeles jury that found Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” unintentionally plagiarized Gaye’s “Got to Give It Up” apparently agreed. Choosing the dead genius over the living epigone was artistically correct -- but it set a terrible legal precedent. The case turned on a deep question about of copyright law: Is the point to protect the moral rights of the original author or to maximize socially valuable artistic production? The jury went with the author. It was wrong to do so. And Pharrell Williams, the true author of Thicke’s song, can help us see why.

  • Grilling a Supreme Court Justice Is No Easy Task

    March 13, 2015

    The trick to interviewing a justice of the Supreme Court as it prepares to issue major decisions is to ask seemingly general questions that might nonetheless elicit a preview of what is to come. Noah Feldman, a law professor at Harvard, is a master of the technique, and on Thursday night, he made vigorous use of it to see what he could learn from Justice Stephen G. Breyer in a public conversation at the 92nd Street Y in New York. But the justice proved nimble in avoiding giving much away.

  • The right to be forgotten from Google? Forget it, says U.S. crowd

    March 13, 2015

    The University of Oklahoma expelled two fraternity members this week after video of them leading a racist chant went viral. Now, a Google search of the young men’s names shows the incident right at the top of the results. But should this still be the case in 30 years?...On Wednesday night at the Kaufman Center in New York City, the Oklahoma frat brothers were discussed as part of a larger debate over whether it’s time for the U.S. to adopt a “right to be forgotten” law to help people hide their past...McLaughlin and Harvard Law’s [Jonathan] Zittrain saved special scorn for the process by which Europe arranges for the “right to be forgotten” to occur, saying it forces Google to choose between an easy path of simply granting the request, or else risking an expensive legal headache. ..Zittrain also took issue with Nemitz’s claim that Europe’s “right to be forgotten” law is not censorship because it merely deletes information from Google, not from the entire Internet. “It’s like saying the book can stay in the library, we just have to set fire to the catalog,” he said.

  • What Courses Should Law Students Take? Harvard’s Largest Employers Weigh In

    March 13, 2015

    An article by John C. Coates, Jesse M. Fried, and Kathryn E. Spier. An online survey of 124 practicing attorneys at major law firms suggests possible new directions for educating and training Harvard Law School students. The most salient result from the survey is that students should learn accounting and financial statement analysis, as well as corporate finance. These two subject areas are viewed as particularly valuable both for lawyers in litigation and lawyers working in corporate/transactional practice areas.

  • Black law students show Portland middle schoolers: Law school in reach for you

    March 13, 2015

    Fifty black law students from some of the nation's top schools hunkered down with 80 African-American, Latino and African middle schoolers in Portland Thursday to coach them through legal exercises...But the verdict the law students really cared about came through loud and clear, the middle school students said: There is value in learning to see both sides of an issue, and law school is in reach for young people of color. "Cases aren't obvious. You have to look at it very deeply," said eighth-grader Jared Melgarejo, after being coached for hours by University of Virginia law student Josephine Biempka and Harvard law student Rob Hickman [`15]. "You need to break stuff down and look for the main parts."...Jane Ehinmoro [`16], Harvard law student, said she felt the law students conveyed to their younger counterparts that law school and elite professions are "not out of reach. That can be done by anyone." Spending time with the Portland students was invigorating, she said. "They are very bright," Ehinmoro said. "It was quite refreshing."

  • What Would You Do With $80k? This Trio Opened Their Own ‘Private Legal Aid’

    March 13, 2015

    Three Miami public interest lawyers received a grant from a Harvard Law School fund to open the Community Justice Project, focused on working with South Florida community organizations on racial, poverty and human rights issues. The Community Justice Project, already in the works, will officially open its doors July 1 at space leased in downtown Miami from Florida Legal Services. Its being launched by Alana Greer, Meena Jagannath and Charles Elsesser, all currently lawyers at Florida Legal Services...Greer, a 2011 graduate of Harvard Law School, was the one who was able to apply for the grant from the Harvard Public Service Venture Fund.

  • 12 Steps to Asking for a Raise – and Getting It

    March 12, 2015

    So you're going to ask for a raise...Head to the negotiation armed with facts. "Information is going to be your best friend," says Robert Bordone, founding director of the Harvard Negotiation and Mediation Clinical Program at Harvard Law School. Otherwise, he adds, "If you're just going to haggle, that's going to be a real challenge."

  • Law Students Tell Justices How Same-Sex Marriage Bans Harm Careers (registration)

    March 12, 2015

    ...In an amicus brief in the high court's same-sex marriage challenges, ten LGBT student organizations—six from law schools at Harvard, Yale, Stanford, Columbia, UCLA and New York University—argue that so-called non-recognition laws impose special harms on their members as they try to begin new careers in a highly mobile nation...At Harvard Law, Sean Cuddihy and Lior Anafi, co-presidents of Harvard Lambda, submitted the draft brief to its members before signing. "Over 20 of our members read the brief and discussed it in an online forum," Cuddihy said.Because the justices will only get to the non-recognition issue if they say "no" to the broader constitutional question, the Harvard group asked Sanford Heisler to emphasize more strongly the members' view that the high court should recognize a Fourteenth Amendment right to marriage for same-sex couples. The group also sought the views of faculty members. Cuddihy and Anafi called the brief "an innovative and interesting" treatment of the issue. "The perspective it represents, highlighting the harmful effects of patchwork marriage laws on young professionals and academics at the mercy of unpredictable hiring systems, is also highly relevant to many of our members and we're grateful for the opportunity to participate," they said in a statement.

  • Supremacy’s claws: How two judges are changing the pension debate

    March 12, 2015

    The billions of dollars in pension obligations faced by cities and states across the country have politicians from many of them calling for some type of reform. A commission appointed by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie wants to freeze the state's current pension plan, while in California, Gov. Jerry Brown has signed a bill that increases the retirement age, among other things. In Illinois, Gov. Bruce Rauner wants to eliminate overtime in the determination of pension benefits...Little more than seven years ago, the idea of touching pensions in bankruptcy "was treated as a little short of crazy," said bankruptcy historian David Skeel, currently a visiting professor at Harvard Law School. But the Detroit and Stockton cases were not the first time cities flirted with impairing pensions, Skeel wrote in an October 2013 paper for The Federalist Society's White Paper Series.

  • Oklahoma’s Right to Expel Frat Boys

    March 12, 2015

    An op-ed by Noah Feldman. University of Oklahoma President David Boren has expelled two members of the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity on his campus for leading a horrifying racist chant. Does his decision violate their First Amendment rights? And if it does, what’s wrong with this picture, in which a public university wouldn’t be able to sanction students who not only bar blacks from their organization, but also refer to lynching in the process?

  • The U.S. Should Adopt the “Right to Be Forgotten” Online (video)

    March 12, 2015

    In 2014, the European Union’s Court of Justice determined that individuals have a right to be forgotten, “the right—under certain conditions—to ask search engines to remove links with personal information about them.” It is not absolute, but meant to be balanced against other fundamental rights, like freedom of expression. In a half year following the Court’s decision, Google received over 180,000 removal requests. Of those reviewed and processed, 40.5% were granted. Largely seen as a victory in Europe, in the U.S., the reaction has been overwhelmingly negative. Was this ruling a blow to free speech and public information, or a win for privacy and human dignity? Debaters include: Jonathan Zittrain.

  • Strange bedfellows defend Bob McDonnell

    March 11, 2015

    Bob McDonnell suddenly has a lot of friends. An unlikely coalition of current and former politicians from both parties, prominent legal scholars, and even retired federal judges has gone to bat for the former Virginia governor in his appeal of federal corruption charges...Another brief, signed by retired judge Nancy Gertner and Charles Ogletree, a former professor of and mentor to President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, argues that the definition of official acts used to convict the former governor is “ill defined” and “unconstitutionally vague.” Gertner told Politico that she believes the issue of what acts and what receipts constitute corruption raises an important constitutional question and could end up in the Supreme Court. Though she understands that people may be “uncomfortable” with the size of the gifts, she does not believe that the former governor’s actions met the quid pro quo requirement. “The theory of the prosecution was too broad,” Gertner said.

  • Barred from Church

    March 11, 2015

    Last month, a North Carolina sheriff announced that people on the state’s sex-offender registry could not attend church services in the community. Instead, Sheriff Danny Millsaps said, they could go to church at the county jail....Laurence Tribe, a professor of constitutional law at Harvard University, says such laws are sound as long as there is a consistent approach between secular and religious contexts. “If the county’s policy is to permit registered sex offenders to attend school events like ball games as long as school administrators have warning and the offenders are monitored,” he says, “then a similar exception needs to be made for church attendance as long as pastors are aware and agree to monitor the offenders.”

  • Alabama’s Gay-Marriage Standoff Deserves a Ruling

    March 11, 2015

    An op-ed by Noah Feldman. Does the ever-deepening public conflict between state and federal courts in Alabama serve or hinder the cause of gay marriage nationally? This difficult question faces federal District Judge Callie Granade, who must now choose the next move in her legal chess match with the Alabama Supreme Court. Her answer will affect more than the gay couples who want to marry in Alabama between now and when the U.S. Supreme Court decides the issue in late June. It may affect the nature of the Constitution itself.

  • Unusual Alliances Back Ex-Va. Governor in Corruption Appeal (subscription)

    March 11, 2015

    Former Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell’s appeal has spurred some unusual alliances. John Ashcroft, attorney general under President George W. Bush, and Gregory Craig, who spent several years as counsel to President Barack Obama, found common ground in arguing that McDonnell was wrongfully convicted...Harvard Law School professors Nancy Gertner, a former federal judge, and Charles Ogletree Jr., along with John Jeffries Jr. of the University of Virginia School of Law, filed a brief together. Represented by William Taylor III of Zuckerman Spaeder, they wrote that previous U.S. Supreme Court cases showed the “erroneous breadth” of the trial judge’s jury instructions.

  • Explaining ‘Capital’

    March 11, 2015

    It’s been just a year since Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” turned the respected French economist from the University of Paris into an academic and publishing rock star. Few could have imagined that a nearly 700-page text tracing wealth and income-distribution patterns in 20 countries as far back as the French Revolution would become a worldwide million-plus seller...Piketty’s status showed little sign of fading during his March 6 visit to Harvard to speak about the book before an overflow crowd inside Austin Hall at Harvard Law School...Sven Beckert, Laird Bell Professor of American History in the Faculty Arts & Sciences (FAS), Christine Desan, Leo Gottlieb Professor of Law at HLS, David Kennedy, Manley O. Hudson Professor of Law at HLS, and Stephen Marglin, Walter S. Baker Chair in the Department of Economics, later offered assessments of Piketty’s work.

  • Law School Student Group Signs Supreme Court Brief

    March 11, 2015

    A Harvard Law School student group has signed an amici curiae brief—an independent legal document to lobby the Supreme Court—that advocates for the recognition of same-sex marriages in states that do not do so currently. Members of Lamda, an LGBTQ student group at the Law School, collectively signed the brief after Sanford Heisler Kimpel LLP, the law firm that wrote the brief, asked for the group to endorse it, according to Sean M. Cuddihy ’11, co-president of the group.

  • The misguided, condescending letter from Republican senators to Iran

    March 10, 2015

    As first reported by Bloomberg's Josh Rogin, a group of 47 Republican senators signed a letter addressed to "the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran," warning them not to be too optimistic about ongoing negotiations with the Obama administration over Tehran's nuclear program...On the Lawfare blog, Harvard Law School professor Jack Goldsmith describes the letter as "embarrassing," because it's technically wrong: The letter states that “the Senate must ratify [a treaty] by a two-thirds vote.” But as the Senate’s own web page makes clear: “The Senate does not ratify treaties."

  • Supreme Court’s Big Mistake in a Small Case

    March 10, 2015

    An op-ed by Noah Feldman. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit is often called the second highest court in the land, because its judges decide most of the important cases involving the vast reach of the modern administrative state. Every so often, however, the U.S. Supreme Court likes to remind the D.C. Circuit who’s the boss by reversing one of its administrative law principles. That happened Monday, in a 9-0 decision in which the court repudiated a perfectly serviceable doctrine the D.C. Circuit invented and has used sensibly since 1997. The decision won’t make headlines -- but it’s wrong anyway, and it gives far too much power to administrative agencies.

  • When All Nine Justices Agree

    March 10, 2015

    An op-ed by Cass Sunstein. Is law just a form of politics? Is the Supreme Court highly politicized? If you focus on the court’s anticipated divisions over Obamacare and same-sex marriage, you probably think so. But the court’s two dissent-free decisions Monday offer a different picture. They are a triumph for the ideal of a Supreme Court that focuses on law.