An op-ed by Noah Feldman. Rick Perry’s chief qualification to be secretary of energy was that he called for the abolition of the department back in 2012. Thursday, at his confirmation hearing, Perry not only flipped but said that, after being briefed on the department’s “vital functions,” he regretted his recommendation. Behold a case study in why, rhetoric and nominations aside, President-elect Donald Trump can’t bring transformative change to the agencies and departments that make up almost all the executive branch: The gravitational pull of the bureaucracy is just too strong. Even before Trump’s appointees are confirmed, they understand that their relevance and power depend not on dismantling the bodies they run, but on enhancing their power.
A letter by fellow Delcianna J. Winders. Puppy mill advocate Center for Consumer Freedom’s claim that the federal Animal Welfare Act adequately protects animals (“Well-intentioned bill would hamper sale of cats, dogs,” Jan. 17) would be laughable if it didn’t have such dire consequences. The Department of Agriculture’s own Office of Inspector General has repeatedly condemned enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act as “ineffective.” Chronic violators — breeders who deny basic veterinary care to sick and injured dogs, for example — have their licenses renewed every year, facing nothing more than a warning for their violations.
An op-ed by Kimberly Mehlman-Orozco and Simon Hedlin [`19]. She was only a teenager when she was trafficked by her mother’s drug dealer. Trafficked for sex over the course of almost 20 years, Jessica, as we’ll call her, suffered from regular physical and mental abuse, including being shot in the leg by her trafficker. After she eventually summoned the courage to call the police, Jessica was the one who was arrested and charged with prostitution – not her trafficker.
When Clara Spera [`17] says she has looked up to Hillary Clinton her entire life, she’s not exaggerating: Clinton visited Spera’s day care when she was a toddler.
Although she didn’t know it at the time, that chance encounter was the start of something for Spera. Now a student at Harvard Law School, Spera says she knew she had to be a part of Clinton’s campaign last summer. She was working in Paris and was stunned by the Brexit vote result. Her first thought the next morning was “If they can do this … President Trump.” Spera got involved through a friend who was working on the campaign and rearranged her schedule so she’d only take classes two days a week. She spent the rest of her week commuting to Brooklyn and working as an intern on the campaign’s voter protection team. “I felt like it was my duty to do anything I could to try to prevent a Trump presidency,” she says.
Scientists spoke, the feds listened: With only two days left in office, the Obama administration on Wednesday issued new rules intended to protect people who participate in scientific research, stepping back from proposals that would have imposed significant new regulatory requirements on scientists…“This is a big win for science and therefore a big win for patients,” said bioethicist Holly Fernandez Lynch of Harvard Law School.
An op-ed by Noah Feldman. Innocent men detained for months or years after the Sept. 11 attacks on suspicion of being Muslim got their day in the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday. The odds don’t look good. The court will probably dismiss their constitutional suit against the government officials who implemented the policies that arrested immigrants who had overstayed their visas and held them in abusive conditions until after they had been affirmatively proved innocent, and sometimes beyond. Yet this is one of those cases that deserves attention because it casts a harsh light on real-world facts that we’d rather forget. Call it the “It Can’t Happen Here” case. And remember: It can. And in 2001, it did.
An op-ed by Noah Feldman. What makes Chelsea Manning — whose sentence for leaking classified military and diplomatic files was commuted Tuesday by President Barack Obama — different from Edward Snowden, who will not be pardoned for his disclosures of classified National Security Agency information? Whatever the White House may have said, it isn’t just the degree of secrecy of the leaked documents, Manning’s guilty plea or her gender transition. The most important difference is simply this: Snowden’s freedom poses a foundational threat to the U.S. systems of national security and criminal justice. Snowden won’t be pardoned because he’s demonstrated serious gaps in both realms. If he were in prison today, however, by his choice or otherwise, there’s a good chance he would have had his sentence commuted.
…A celebration of Trump’s defeat on the day of his inauguration seems several stages beyond fanciful. The real estate billionaire did after all pull off one of the biggest electoral surprises of modern times. Yet the progressive inhabitants of Saranac Lake are not alone in such thinking. Across the country, a growing chorus of influential voices can be heard exhorting liberals not to wallow in despondency in the wake of the Trump ascendancy, but to embrace optimism and celebrate a victory of their own…Will President Trump hear all these messages as he takes his seat in the Oval Office? Lawrence Lessig, the Harvard law professor who made a brief bid in 2016 for the Democratic presidential nomination, predicts that Trump will ignore calls for him to show electoral humility, just as Bush did in 2001. “The Republicans are so good at the chutzpah of their claim to power – minority presidents acting as though they are dominant in the world. We have to develop a way of tamping down their arrogance – these are minority presidents who do not represent most Americans.”
An op-ed by Elizabeth Bartholet and Chuck Johnson. The current State Department has developed policies that have been disastrous for children languishing in institutions abroad. There are many millions of such children, some of them orphaned, some abandoned by or removed from their birth parents. Most of these children have no likelihood of finding a family in their country of origin. International adoption provides their best prospect for a family, and the social science shows that such adoption works extremely well for children, helping repair damage done prior to adoption and enabling children adopted at early ages to thrive. By contrast the brain and social science shows that institutions cause mental, emotional and physical damage destructive of a child’s potential.
Around noon on Friday, the presidency of Barack Obama will officially be history, and for months the news media has been awash in considerations of the first African-American president’s legacy. But there’s one aspect of his record that has received less attention: his legacy as a historian…Kenneth Mack, a historian at Harvard Law School who has known Mr. Obama since they were classmates there, said that he was “the first president who has really been able to wrap the history of the civil rights movement into the fabric of American history,” while also pointedly hailing other marginalized groups’ push for inclusion in “We the people.” “It’s not just about commemorating the heroes of the past,” Mr. Mack said, “but also things Americans disagreed about, and still disagree about.”