Alabama’s Renegade Judge Defies Gay Marriage Order

An op-ed by Noah Feldman. Maybe you remember Roy Moore? He’s the chief justice of Alabama who, in 2001, ordered the erection of a 5,200 pound granite copy of the Ten Commandments in the rotunda of the Alabama Supreme Court — then refused to remove it in 2003 after a federal court ruled it unconstitutional. On Tuesday, while the Northeast was covered in snow, Moore was at it again. He sent the Alabama governor a letter asserting that Alabama judges aren’t bound by the federal district court decision requiring issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples in the state. Moore’s idiosyncratic view isn’t completely crazy — but it is dangerously wrong. And it’s especially important to show why it’s wrong, because Southern states’ rights fundamentalism has a long and bad history of challenging federal constitutional decisions in the context of segregation.

McCants, Ramsay make first public statement since filing lawsuit

Former North Carolina basketball player Rashanda McCants said she and former UNC fullback Devon Ramsay need teammates to help them go against not only their former school but also the mighty NCAA…The complaint filed a week ago at the Durham County courthouse claims both UNC and the NCAA were complicit in steering hundreds of UNC student-athletes to irregular classes that lacked faculty involvement or attendance requirements…Harvard Law School professor Charles J. Ogletree Jr. is among the lawyers representing the plaintiffs.

‘Punishing Us For Being Women': UVA Sorority Members Protest Frat Party Ban

Sorority women at the University of Virginia were ordered to stay home on the biggest party night of the year to protect their “safety and well-being” — and they are furious about it. Members of the National Panhellenic Conference told 16 UVA sorority chapters last week not to participate in Boys’ Bid Night fraternity parties on Saturday. The revelry has led to allegations of sexual assault and excessive drinking in the past. Women who break the prohibition may face sanctions…“This is the wrong approach to thinking about how to empower women,” said Elizabeth Bartholet, a professor of civil rights and family law at Harvard Law School. “It’s not the right reaction to say we need to keep women away.” Bartholet is one of 28 law professors who signed an open letter last year condemning Harvard’s sexual-misconduct policy, saying it “departs dramatically” from current law.

Brace for it: Robert and Maureen McDonnell could ultimately be cleared on appeal

Virginians rightly disgusted by the sleazy behavior of ex-Gov. Bob McDonnell need to brace for the possibility that he and his wife could eventually be fully cleared on appeal even though they were convicted of a total of 19 corruption felonies….“None of the case law up until that point, nothing in the statute, would have suggested that introductions and access were criminal,” Nancy Gertner, a former federal judge who now teaches law at Harvard, said. She and a Harvard colleague wrote a brief supporting McDonnell. “The criminal law has to be clear. It has to give notice. Otherwise, every politician is vulnerable to an ambitious prosecutor,” said Gertner, who was appointed to the bench by President Bill Clinton.

Why what’s missing in states’ youth concussion laws matters

With a push from the NFL, all 50 states and the District of Columbia passed youth concussion laws over the span of about five years. They were modeled after legislation passed in Washington state in 2009. But an Associated Press analysis shows just 21 of the laws that followed included all four key elements in Washington’s bill. “Washington state is the ‘gold standard,'” said Peter Carfagna, the founder of a sports marketing company and a teacher at Harvard Law School. “I have a hard time thinking of a good reason why you’d deviate from it.”

Harvard Professor Says Focus On Admissions Testing Damages Higher Education Mission (audio)

It’s nearly the end of the college application season and, for many high school seniors, that means the end of a years-long process full of AP tests, extracurricular activists, volunteer hours and SAT prep — much of it a means to an end: getting into the highest ranking college. For years, SAT critics have argued the test disadvantages poor students, but now, Harvard Law School Professor Lani Guinier is saying the test has hurt the mission of higher education. She outlines that position in her new book, “The Tyranny of the Meritocracy: Democratizing Higher Education in America.”

Can Laws Boost Breastfeeding Rates?

The law can be an important tool in increasing low breastfeeding rates. Mississippi has some protections already in place for breastfeeding mothers…The language, drafted by Harvard Law School/Mississippi State University Delta fellow Desta Reff, doesn’t give women any new legal rights. Instead, it extends “the support of the Mississippi Senate for the needs and rights of breastfeeding mothers consistent with the law.”…A 2006 state law protects women’s right to breastfeed in any location, but has no enforcement provision. “So if someone tells you (to) cover up, you have no recourse,” says Reff.

Will the International Criminal Court care about Ongwen’s rotten childhood? (registration)

Dominic Ongwen, a Ugandan commander in the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), made his first appearance before the International Criminal Court (ICC) on Monday for a pretrial hearing. What now? IJT asked two experts what they expected of this first ICC case against a former child soldier-turned-perpetrator…The arrest warrant dates from 2005 and does not include crimes in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic (CAR) or South Sudan. It is possible newcharges will be added later, says Harvard professor Alex Whiting, who worked as an investigation and prosecution coordinator at the ICC from 2010 to 2013…Whiting, however, believes it “is not a big deal” that the ICC is prosecuting a formervictim. He compares it with domestic criminal cases against violent adults who were mistreated in childhood. “The fact that you were a victim is no excuse for becoming a perpetrator,” he says. Still, he agrees that proving Ongwen was “coerced” to com- mit the crimes or “damaged” may allow his past to “count as a mitigating factor”, though not hinder his prosecution.

Three Lessons From Islamic State’s Retreat

An op-ed by Noah Feldman. Syrian and Iraqi Kurdish forces say that, with the help of three months of U.S. airstrikes, they’ve retaken the town of Kobani on the Syria-Turkey border from Islamic State. This success doesn’t change the basic strategic calculus of the war on the insurgent group: The fight for Kobani was always more about symbolism than military advantage. But the victory, if you can call it that, carries three lessons about how the conflict with Islamic State is going — and how it can and cannot be affected by the use of force. The first and most important lesson is that airstrikes alone can’t retake territory from Islamic State.

Should California Judges Join the Boy Scouts?

An op-ed by Noah Feldman. The news that California will ban its judges from participation in the Boy Scouts has been on my mind since it was announced Friday. The decision is interesting on many levels, with implications from the mainstreaming of gay rights to the centrality of scouting to Mormonism and beyond. But the angle that’s been gnawing at me is constitutional: How, exactly, can the state code of judicial conduct prohibit judges from exercising what would otherwise be their constitutional right to free association? You and I can join any private organization we want. Why can’t judges?