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Media Mentions

  • Detentions of war

    September 16, 2014

    An op-ed by Alan Dershowitz. Part 3. How should a nation committed to the rule of law deal with captured terrorists who are believed to be dangerous but who cannot realistically be brought to trial? This issue has arisen in the context of the debate over whether to close the US prison at Guantanamo Bay, which candidate Barack Obama promised to do, but President Obama has not yet done. A major reason why Guantanamo remains open is that it contains several detainees — the precise number is unknown — who, if released, would almost certainly return to a life of terrorism. Indeed, some have, and many in detention have overtly stated their malignant intentions. Others have histories that suggest the likelihood of recidivism. But even some of the most dangerous detainees cannot be tried, either because there is insufficient admissible evidence of a specific crime or because the evidence comes from undercover sources the government is unwilling to out. If Guantanamo were to be closed, as it should be, and the detainees transferred to other facilities, the basic problem would still remain.

  • Obama Already Has Authority to Fight Islamic State

    September 15, 2014

    An op-ed by Cass R. Sunstein. Does the Barack Obama administration have the legal authority to use military force against Islamic State? Some constitutional scholars, and some members of Congress, have been skeptical, even dismissive. But as a matter of law, the president has a strong justification...In 2001, Congress gave the George W. Bush administration broad authorization to respond to the Sept. 11 attacks. The Authorization for Use of Military Force explicitly says the president can “use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided” the 9/11 attacks, or even that “harbored such organizations or persons.” For present purposes, the most important word here is “organizations,” and the key phrase is “he determines.”

  • D.C. Circuit Judge Robert Wilkins Sworn In

    September 15, 2014

    Judge Robert Wilkins was formally sworn in on Friday as the 61st judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit at a ceremony dedicated to the African American judges who preceded Wilkins on the bench...Four of Wilkins’ friends and former colleagues spoke. Kenneth Mack, a professor at Harvard Law School and a friend of Wilkins since the two were law students at Harvard, spoke about Hastie, Robinson and the legacy of other black federal judges in history, who strived to deliver justice at a time when they faced discrimination outside the courthouse. Their service meant that Wilkins “would not be faced with the kinds of dilemmas that they faced every day,” he said.

  • Parents Poised to Gain Easier Access to College Loans

    September 15, 2014

    The Obama administration is moving to ease access to student loans for parents with damaged credit, a policy reversal that could saddle poor families with piles of debt but also boost college enrollment...Credit counselors say they have seen a rise in borrowers who took out large sums despite being on limited incomes. "This debt will remain a huge problem for the rest of their lives," said Toby Merrill, head of the Project on Predatory Student Lending at Harvard University's Legal Services Center.

  • Surveillance and privacy

    September 15, 2014

    An op-ed by Alan Dershowitz. Part 2. The recent disclosure by Edward Snowden of the US government’s wide net of surveillance has stimulated an emotional debate about security, privacy, and secrecy. We have learned from Snowden that the National Security Agency engages in virtually unchecked monitoring of all sorts of communications that were thought to be private but that we now know are maintained in secret government databases. Three fundamental issues are raised by these disclosures: Was it proper for the government to conduct such massive surveillance and to maintain such extensive files? Was it proper for the government to keep its surveillance program secret from the public? If not, did this governmental impropriety justify the unlawful disclosure of so much classified information by Snowden?

  • War of principles

    September 15, 2014

    An op-ed by Alan Dershowitz. Part 1. When democracies seek to protect their citizens against new threats posed by terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda, ISIS, Hamas, and Boko Haram, the old rules — designed for conventional warfare among nations — sometimes become anachronistic. New balances must be struck between preserving people’s civil liberties and protecting them against terrorist violence. As Aharon Barak, the former president of the Supreme Court of Israel — a nation that has confronted this issue over many decades — once put it: “Although a democracy must often fight with one hand tied behind its back, it nonetheless has the upper hand.”

  • Apple Takes A Swipe At The Credit Card

    September 12, 2014

    It started with the iPod. In 2001, Apple promised to do away with stacks of CDs and put 1,000 songs in your pocket. Thirteen years later, the music industry is unrecognizable: most brick-and-mortar record stores have shuttered and a pocket-sized hard drive filled with music seems quaint in a world with YouTube and Spotify. ...Susan Crawford, an Internet policy expert and visiting professor at Harvard Law School, sees the payment system as a way of locking in increased loyalty for already-adoring Apple fans. If Apple can leverage its customers' preexisting trust to help consumers jump over their privacy concerns associated with e-payments, she says, the company may have made one more reason for users to keep their iPhones clutched tightly in their hand at all times. "Really this is all about affection for these devices, which are literally very close to people's hearts," Crawford says.

  • Panel focuses on Pope Francis during launch of Crux

    September 12, 2014

    Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley joined a panel of journalists and academics Thursday night in a discussion of the new pope that was part of an event marking the launch of The Boston Globe’s new website Crux, which will cover the Roman Catholic Church across the world...The cardinal was joined on stage by Globe associate editor John L. Allen Jr., of Crux; Mary Ann Glendon, Learned Hand professor of law at Harvard University and the former US ambassador to the Holy See; Robert Christian, editor and blogger; and Hosffman Ospino, a Boston College assistant professor of Hispanic ministry and religious education.

  • Berkman Center Kicks Off Digital Problem Solving Initiative

    September 12, 2014

    The Berkman Center for Internet and Society held a kickoff event for its Digital Problem Solving Initiative, a year-long program that brings together students and mentors from across the University to solve campus-wide issues through technology, at the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Gutman Library on Thursday. Following an introduction from Law School Dean Martha L. Minow and a lecture on best practices for entrepreneurship from Business School professor Thomas R. Eisenmann, students and advisors split up into eight teams focused on particular on-campus problems...Law School professor and Berkman Center Director Urs Gasser said the initiative not only aims to tackle problems across the University but also seeks to develop students “digital literacy skills.”

  • Cameras can’t be silenced

    September 12, 2014

    An op-ed by Jaimie McFarlin `15. In both tragedies of domestic violence and alleged police brutality, the victim can be silenced. Cameras can't. In a domestic violence incident, the victim can be silenced through the psychological trap of the relationship. In cases of alleged police brutality, victims can be silenced through death. So let the cameras talk.

  • Cruel summer

    September 12, 2014

    As President Obama made his case for deepening U.S. military involvement in Syria and Iraq and the country prepared to mark the 13th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, scholars from Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) and Harvard Law School (HLS) came together to explore the circumstances surrounding the recent upheavals in the Middle East and the complex forces driving the many strategic challenges to peace. In a Tuesday panel moderated by HLS Professor Noah Feldman, Nicholas Burns, Michael Ignatieff, and Meghan O’Sullivan assessed the global threat now posed by the Sunni jihadist group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

  • A Harvard Professor Learns a Little Money Isn’t Enough to Beat Big Money

    September 12, 2014

    Harvard Law School professor Lawrence Lessig just learned a lesson: It takes more than some money to win an election. It takes a lot of money. Earlier this year, Lessig announced the creation of MayDay, a super PAC that would take advantage of newly loosened campaign finance laws to spend lots of money supporting candidates who commit to tightening those same campaign finance laws. The big bet was New Hampshire, where MayDay spent $1.6 million supporting long-shot candidate Jim Rubens in the state’s Republican Senate primary. That’s nearly six times the $270,000 that Rubens’s own campaign spent through Sept. 10 and more than any other outside group spent on the race, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. But it was far less than Scott Brown, a former U.S. senator, had at his disposal, and only a fraction of the total that a coalition of other outside groups poured into the race, including Americans for Prosperity, the conservative group backed by the billionaire Koch brothers, and the liberal Senate Majority PAC.

  • Record Response Urges SEC To Require Disclosure Of Corporate Political Spending

    September 11, 2014

    More than a million comments have been filed with federal regulators urging the government to begin requiring publicly traded corporations to report on their political spending....“The overwhelming support from public comments the petition has attracted, and the strength of the arguments for transparency put forward in the petition, provide a strong case for SEC initiation of a rulemaking process,” Lucian Bebchuk, director of the corporate governance program at Harvard Law School and one of a group of academics who, in 2011, submitted the original petition on the issue, said at a press conference here last week. “Furthermore, opponents of the petition have failed in their comments to provide any good basis for avoiding such a process.”

  • Blindfolds Off: Judges on How They Decide

    September 11, 2014

    For the past 29 years, Joel Cohen has been an accomplished litigator at Stroock & Stroock & Lavan in New York City. He is also the author of a regular column in the Law Journal. And he has somehow found time to write four works of fiction, three of which tackle religious subjects. Blindfolds Off is his first non-fiction work, and it sets out to "examine what goes on in a judge's mind that may not be reflected in the record."...Cohen's technique is the probing interview. Thirteen federal judges, all but two of whom are still sitting, agreed to be interviewed about a significant case over which they presided...Judge Nancy Gertner talks about awarding Peter Limone and others $100 million in their wrongful conviction lawsuit arising out of the FBI's insidious relationship with Whitey Bulger.

  • Apple Pay Could Make You Poorer

    September 11, 2014

    An op-ed by Cass R. Sunstein. The new Apple payment system has extraordinary promise. With Apple Pay, you might not need a wallet, and you can leave your credit and debit cards at home. In terms of ease and convenience, payment cards represented a big leap from the era of cash. Apple hopes its system will be a comparable leap from the era of cards. Skeptics have focused on questions of security and privacy, but prospective users might want to pause over a different problem: When payment becomes easier, and when people don’t see the money they’re handing over, they tend to spend a lot more. And as payment becomes more automatic, people become less sensitive to what they’re losing. Apple Pay users might find that their thinner phones are making their bank accounts thinner as well.

  • A circle completed

    September 11, 2014

    Aldel Brown grew up just a 20-minute drive from Harvard’s campus, but attending the University seemed like distant possibility. Yet this year Brown — who regularly describes himself as “just a kid from Boston” — has arrived as a member of the Harvard Law School (HLS) Class of 2017. “As far back as second grade, I’ve wanted to go to law school, and attending HLS is a dream,” he said. “I always felt that there were wrongs in the world, and I wanted to help solve those problems. So I was always thinking about the law. It was something I always wanted to pursue.” While Brown’s future lies in a courtroom, his past is rooted in two other courts: basketball and tennis. From a young age, he played both sports in neighborhoods all over Boston. Taking tennis lesson in the summers and after school, and playing basketball after tennis lessons, Brown’s prowess in both games flourished. Tennis taught him self-reliance and focus, while basketball emphasized the importance of teamwork and collaboration.

  • Obama’s Breathtaking Expansion of a President’s Power To Make War

    September 11, 2014

    An op-ed by Jack Goldsmith. Future historians will ask why George W. Bush sought and received express congressional authorization for his wars (against al Qaeda and Iraq) and his successor did not. They will puzzle over how Barack Obama the prudent war-powers constitutionalist transformed into a matchless war-powers unilateralist. And they will wonder why he claimed to “welcome congressional support” for his new military initiative against the Islamic State but did not insist on it in order to ensure clear political and legal legitimacy for the tough battle that promised to consume his last two years in office and define his presidency.

  • Defending scarce leg space in flight: A right or grounds to sue?

    September 10, 2014

    Bringing something onto a plane that blocks others from reclining their seats is legal. But should it be?...John Goldberg, Harvard Law School professor and an expert on torts, says that someone prevented from reclining might be able to make the unlikely argument that they were held against their will. “The cute way to do it would be to argue this is almost false imprisonment,” Goldberg says. Granted, it would be a stretch, since you can still get up and go to the bathroom and walk around. Someone using Knee Defender might even have a better chance of winning in court than the recliner does. Goldberg says, “If the person could actually show—and it’s a big if—that the reclining passenger acted carelessly with respect to their physical well-being, then they’d have a case. But it’s a tough showing.”

  • Twenty-three from HLS receive Public Service Venture Fund grants

    September 10, 2014

    Twenty-three public service visionaries and social entrepreneurs from Harvard Law School have been selected as recipients of grants from the Public Service Venture Fund, a unique program that awards up to $1 million each year to help graduating Harvard Law students and recent graduates obtain their ideal jobs in public service.

  • With Apple Pay, the tech leader takes its shot at replacing the wallet

    September 10, 2014

    Apple, which built its iconic brand by making cool, shiny electronics, on Tuesday entered the daunting world of consumer finance with a new mobile payment system built to resist the relentless attacks of cybercriminals who have ravaged the nation’s retail industry...“It won’t be too long before we look back on this era and think it’s nuts,” said Harvard law professor Jonathan Zittrain. He and other technology experts noted that Apple has a history of solving business riddles that have eluded others, as it did with the iPod, which thrived not only because of its stylish hardware but also because big record companies agreed to distribute their music through Apple’s iTunes store.

  • Cracked Granite

    September 9, 2014

    In little New Hampshire’s big money U.S. Senate primary, Republican Jim Rubens should be an afterthought at best. This former New Hampshire state senator, after all, hasn’t occupied elected office since the late 1990s. He then lost a bid for governor, and failed to win back his old state Senate seat in 2000. But when a quixotic, out-of-state super PAC with a million-plus dollars to burn suddenly backs you, the atmospherics change...“This is exactly why we’re in there—to effect change and change how he’s doing,” said Larry Lessig, the Harvard Law School professor who founded Mayday PAC: “We’re optimistic we’re going to be effective.”