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Media Mentions

  • Inquisitive Nashville teen finds her egg donor mom

    June 9, 2014

    …Nearly a decade later, the Nashville teen and her egg donor came together in a way as modern as her birth, after a search on an Internet database, a timid message on Facebook and, finally, a tearful introduction on Katie Couric's daytime TV talk show. The show will air June 12…The identity of U.S. sperm and egg donors is protected by default. In the United Kingdom, Australia and other countries, sperm and egg donors must be willing to be contacted when their offspring turns 18, said I. Glenn Cohen, a Harvard University law professor who specializes in bioethics. But some birth parents still never tell because they don't want to be undermined by a second relationship, Cohen said, and it can be tough for a child to be rejected by the donor. If the United States were to mandate more openness, Cohen said, he'd also like laws that determine how much responsibility the donor must take on.

  • The Great Satirical News Scam of 2014

    June 9, 2014

    There’s nothing that gets American journalists quite so giddy as an authoritarian mouthpiece failing to get a joke—as when, in September 2012, Iran's semiofficial Fars News Agency reported on a Gallup poll that found an overwhelming majority of rural white Americans preferred President Ahmadinejad to President Obama. It wasn't a real Gallup poll, of course: It was an Onion article, as every English-language news site in the world gleefully pointed out...In the U.S., satirical writing—even if it makes reference to real people, and even if those references are defaming—is protected speech. But according to Harvard Law professor Bruce Hay, there are established standards for determining whether or not content is comedic and not criminally libelous—standards that can get tricky when your business is predicated on deceiving your readers. “The question a court would ask is whether the average reader would think the article was factual or satirical,” he says.

  • 3 key questions: General Motors recall investigation results to be made public

    June 9, 2014

    Along rows of cubicles at the General Motors Technical Center in suburban Warren, engineers knew for years about faulty ignition switches in small cars. Safety officials in the same complex knew, too. So did the lawyers downtown...But John Coates, a professor at Harvard Law School, says often the only way to get investigation results quickly is to hire a lawyer who is familiar with the company. Corporate investigations don't always conform to the company's strategy, he says. Investigations happen more often now, creating a lucrative business line for law firms. If a firm finds no criminal wrongdoing, but it comes out later, "it is their personal reputation at stake," Coates says.

  • Facebook Could Decide an Election Without Anyone Ever Finding Out

    June 3, 2014

    An op-ed by Jonathan Zittrain. On November 2, 2010, Facebook’s American users were subject to an ambitious experiment in civic-engineering: Could a social network get otherwise-indolent people to cast a ballot in that day’s congressional midterm elections? The answer was yes.

  • Heroin death prosecutions spike in Wisconsin

    June 3, 2014

    Amid a statewide surge in heroin use, Wisconsin prosecutors are more frequently pursuing charges against those who provide fatal doses — doubling the number of such homicide charges from 2011 to 2013…Ron Sullivan, director of the Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard Law School, said the discrepancy “on its face seems unfair,” but it is not surprising given the power prosecutors have to set policy in their counties.

  • The BASE mentors youth through baseball, academics

    June 3, 2014

    A recent Sunday morning found Roxbury’s Marcella Park nearly empty save for Robert Lewis Jr., bat in hand, leading a handful of his young ballplayers in a light workout. “Head down! Keep your feet sturdy!” barked Lewis as he tossed pitches to Hugo Mateo, 17, a Madison Park High School junior from Everett who’s hoping to play for Lewis’s elite 17-and-under travel team this summer…“What you saw when you looked around that room — law enforcement officials and clergy, educators and athletes, black people and white — reflects the essence of what [Lewis] is doing,” Harvard Law professor Charles Ogletree said later. “Now he’s using baseball, of all things, to open up opportunities for young men.”By locating his new program in the heart of Roxbury, Ogletree added, “He’s not only talking the talk, he’s walking the walk.”

  • Bloomberg: Universities becoming bastions of intolerance

    June 3, 2014

    Former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, delivering Thursday's commencement speech at Harvard University, criticized what he described as a disturbing trend of liberals silencing voices "deemed politically objectionable." Harvard Law School graduate Jared Nicholson [`14] said the speech was "a great message ... about tolerance of different ideas and diversity of opinions."

  • Harvard Law School celebrates Commencement 2014

    June 3, 2014

    Harvard Law School celebrated the Harvard Law School Class of 2014, conferring a total of 750 degrees—576 J.D.s, 167 LL.M.s, and 7 S.J.D.s. Festivities began on Class Day, Wednesday, May 28, and continued through Commencement, on Thursday, May 29.

  • Teaching an Old Law New Tricks

    May 30, 2014

    An op-ed by Jody Freeman. President Obama is expected to announce his much anticipated rule for power plants on Monday, requiring for the first time that older and dirtier plants reduce their carbon dioxide emissions, which account for a sizable share of the nation’s carbon pollution. This new rule has rightly been called the “cornerstone” of the president’s climate action plan. If successful, it has the potential to transform the nation’s power sector by driving new investments in efficiency and renewable energy, and by increasing the use of cleaner natural gas in place of coal.

  • The Examiners: Mark Roe on GM’s Liability

    May 29, 2014

    An op-ed by Mark Roe. Can GM run from its bad cars? GM’s faulty ignition switches killed people. As a matter of ethics and public relations, GM should stand behind its cars. But does bankruptcy law require it to do so? Technically, no. Bankruptcy law says that an “old GM” was sold to a “new GM” and the “new GM” excluded product liability from the debts it picked up in the sales agreement. But it’d take a bankruptcy expert to know the difference between the old and the new GM; GM today is the same organization as the one that put the bad switches into is cars and, the media reports, knew about it years ago.

  • Supreme Court’s Irrational Death-Penalty Decision

    May 28, 2014

    An op-ed by Noah Feldman. On the surface, the Supreme Court's death penalty holding today seems like a win for rationality and smart statistics. The 5-4 decision in Hall v. Florida said the state may not use an absolute cutoff of 70 on the IQ test as its measure of intellectual disability, below which a murderer cannot be executed -- because the standard error of measurement on the test is five points plus or minus…On closer examination, though, the decision is less satisfying than it appears.

  • Physicians, Medical Ethics, and Execution by Lethal Injection

    May 20, 2014

    An op-ed by Robert D. Truog, I. Glenn Cohen, and Mark A. Rockoff. In an opinion dissenting from a Supreme Court decision to deny review in a death penalty case, Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun famously wrote, “From this day forward, I no longer shall tinker with the machinery of death.” In the wake of the recent botched execution by lethal injection in Oklahoma, however, a group of eminent legal professionals known as the Death Penalty Committee of The Constitution Project has published a sweeping set of 39 recommendations that not only tinker with, but hope to fix, the multitude of problems that affect this method of capital punishment.

  • Why don’t we remember Ike as a civil rights hero?

    May 20, 2014

    Sixty years ago, with its historic ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court outlawed segregation in public schools. President Dwight D. Eisenhower didn’t sound too happy about that… “Eisenhower’s lack of enthusiasm for Earl Warren’s decision certainly did not help the cause of school desegregation,” said Tomiko Brown-Nagin, a professor at Harvard Law School.

  • Defense Attorneys Must Give Clear Advice On Possible Deportations, SJC Rules

    May 20, 2014

    Lawyers defending immigrants charged with crimes must be more clear when it comes to the immigration consequences of their cases, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled Monday. The court’s decision says telling immigrants they could be “eligible for deportation” or “face deportation” if convicted is not correct legal advice when deportation is “practically inevitable.” Phil Torrey, who lectures on immigration law at Harvard Law School, said the court could not have offered a prescription because there is no magic formula — each case is unique. “I think it’s clear that defense attorneys are going to have to say more than simply, ‘Oh, you’re not a citizen, you’re pleading guilty to a crime, there might be some immigration problems down the road,’” Torrey said.

  • How conspiracy theories explain political parties (video)

    May 20, 2014

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

  • Magnetic Rocks: Assessing China’s Legal Strategy in the South China Sea

    May 20, 2014

    An article by Sean Mirski [`15]. Centuries ago, Chinese fishermen referred to the isles of the South China Sea as “magnetic rocks”—a morbid allusion to the uncanny force that drew ships to unlucky fates on the shoals. Today, however, the South China Sea attracts a different kind of trouble. For the last six decades, the Sea has been the center of a geopolitical maelstrom fueled by great power politics, toxic nationalism, and bountiful petroleum reserves. Six different parties – Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam – feud with each other over both the South China Sea’s insular territories and their surrounding waters.

  • Drawing Phony Connections with Mismatched Metrics

    May 20, 2014

    Our times have gone mad for metrics. Now, have you ever compared the number of honey-producing bee colonies in the United States with the marriage rate in Vermont or seen any correlation between the divorce rate in Maine and the consumption of margarine? Well, that's what the Spurious Correlations blog tries to do by plotting completely unrelated sets of data. It's the project of Tyler Vigen [`16]. He's a geospatial intelligence analyst with the U.S. Army National Guard and a law student at the Harvard Law School.

  • Dershowitz: Christie’s Speech at Jewish Event ‘Inappropriate’

    May 20, 2014

    New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's speech before a Jewish charity over the weekend, in which he never mentioned Israel, was essentially a campaign speech that had no place at the event, renowned lawyer Alan Dershowitz says. "I thought it was a stump speech. It was somewhat inappropriate for a charitable event which had Democrats, Republicans, Liberals, Conservatives, everybody talking about people who do a great deal of good to the world," Dershowitz told J.D. Hayworth and John Bachman on Newsmax TV's "America's Forum."

  • Physicians, Medical Ethics, and Execution by Lethal Injection

    May 19, 2014

    An op-ed by Robert D. Truog, I. Glenn Cohen, and Mark A. Rockoff. In an opinion dissenting from a Supreme Court decision to deny review in a death penalty case, Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun famously wrote, “From this day forward, I no longer shall tinker with the machinery of death.” In the wake of the recent botched execution by lethal injection in Oklahoma, however, a group of eminent legal professionals known as the Death Penalty Committee of The Constitution Project has published a sweeping set of 39 recommendations that not only tinker with, but hope to fix, the multitude of problems that affect this method of capital punishment.

  • Bonded Bankers

    May 19, 2014

    An op-ed by Mark Roe. Since the global financial crisis, regulators have worked hard to make the world’s big banks safer. The fundamental problem is well known: major banks have significant incentives to take on excessive risk. If their risky bets pay off, their stockholders benefit considerably, as do the banks’ CEOs and senior managers, who are heavily compensated in bank stock. If they do not pay off and the bank fails, the government will probably pick up the tab. This confluence of economic incentives to take on risk makes bank managers poor guardians of financial safety. They surely do not want their bank to fail; but, if the potential upside is large enough, it is a risk they may find worth taking.

  • After Horton case, Massachusetts fell behind on criminal justice

    May 19, 2014

    An op-ed by Nancy Gertner. Anyone of a certain age remembers Willie Horton. Furloughed in 1986 from a life sentence for murder, Horton, who is black, raped a white woman and assaulted her fiancé. But Horton’s legacy extends beyond the horrific crime he committed. Many have blamed Governor Michael Dukakis’s failed presidential bid that year on publicity surrounding the case. Less often discussed is how far Horton’s crime set back criminal justice reform in Massachusetts — and still does to this day.