In the News

HLS faculty weigh in on recent legal news

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

Ferguson’s Grand Jury Problem

An op-ed by Noah Feldman. When was the last time you heard of a grand jury decision causing a riot? Well … never. That’s because grand juries are obscure relics of past practice, not designed to bear the full weight of a politically and symbolically important decision like the nonprosecution of police officer Darren Wilson for the death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri. The decision by St. Louis County Chief Prosecutor Robert McCulloch to put the issue neutrally before the grand jury was intended to create a sense of public legitimacy for whatever result followed, and also no doubt to deflect blame from the prosecutor’s own exercise of discretion. It failed on both counts — and with good reason.Continue Reading at Bloomberg »

There will be more Fergusons

An op-ed by Nancy Gertner. It isn’t surprising that a grand jury on Monday ruled against indicting police officer Darren Wilson in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown last August in Ferguson, Mo. Although many are saying that the decision may have to do with race, it is more likely that Wilson is not facing charges because courts have decimated the law that holds officers accountable for excessive force, rulings that make incidents similar to Ferguson all the more likely. For example, two months before the Brown shooting, the US Supreme Court ruled in Plumhoff v. Rickard that even egregious police conduct is not “excessive force” in violation of the Constitution.Continue Reading at The Boston Globe »

Five principles that should govern any U.S. authorization of force

An op-ed by President Obama has stated that he wants “to begin engaging Congress” over a new Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against the Islamic State and also that he wants to “right-size and update” the 2001 AUMF “to suit the current fight, rather than previous fights.” It appears that Congress, too, is finally getting serious about putting U.S. counterterrorism operations on a contemporary and more rigorous statutory footing. There are many politically contested questions about how the government should accomplish these goals — about, for example, whether U.S. ground troops should be banned from Syria and Iraq, how the fight against the Islamic State should be conducted consistent with U.S. policy against Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and what rules should govern the targeted killing of U.S. citizens abroad…We differ among ourselves on some questions. We nonetheless believe that, however they are resolved, an important foundational consensus can be reached — across branches and parties — on five core principles that should guide any new or revised authorization of force related to counterterrorism.Continue Reading at The Washington Post »

See All »

Recent Highlights