In the News

World War I, Impeaching Nixon, and James Brady’s Death

A selection of analyses and opinions from Harvard Law School experts.

The promise World War I couldn’t keep

An op-ed by Samuel Moyn. The guns of August 1914 unleashed a debate that is still with us: Can the laws of war actually impose limits on how war is carried out? Germany invaded Belgium, violating that nation’s neutrality — which was guaranteed by treaties stretching back to the 19th century. This act horrified the world — as would the civilian occupation policies that marked German rule in Belgium, Northern France, and elsewhere during the long years of trench warfare. The question of how much international law should be respected during wartime has resurfaced repeatedly through the 20th century — in America, it has come up frequently since 9/11, especially surrounding the “torture debate.”Continue Reading at CNN »

Impeaching Nixon, by the Book

An op-ed by Cass R. Sunstein. When Richard Nixon announced his resignation, 40 years ago today, it was for one reason: Members of Congress had informed him the night before that he would be impeached by the House of Representatives, convicted by the Senate and removed from office. In retrospect, one of the most striking features of the Watergate controversy is the continuity between a pivotal decision of the founding generation and the judgment of congressional leaders more than 180 years later. In 1974, the nation’s representatives focused on precisely the kinds of wrongdoing that prompted the founders to authorize impeachment in the first place.Continue Reading at Bloomberg »

James Brady’s Death Isn’t a Murder 33 Years Later

An op-ed by Noah Feldman. The government would have to overcome major legal hurdles to charge John Hinckley Jr. in the murder of James Brady some 30 years after the fact. But if that were the morally right thing to do, it would be worth trying, despite the improbability of success. Is it? The answer is no — but not for the reasons you might think. It doesn’t have to do with Hinckley’s guilt or Brady’s heroism or Ronald Reagan’s presidential status. The reason not to prosecute Hinckley lies in the kind of criminal justice system we want to have: one that doesn’t seek solely to punish the guilty, but rather to punish the guilty subject to the requirements of basic fairness.Continue Reading at Bloomberg »

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