An expanded form of the testimony Noah Feldman delivered to the House Judiciary Committee on December 4, 2019. Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee: I’m here today at the request of the Committee to describe why the framers of our Constitution included a provision for impeaching the president; what that provision means; and how it applies to the pressing question before you and the American people: whether President Donald J. Trump has committed impeachable offenses under the Constitution. I will begin by stating my conclusions: The framers provided for impeachment of the president because they wanted the president, unlike the king, to be controlled by law, and because they feared that a president might abuse the power of his office to gain personal advantage, corrupt the electoral process, and keep himself in office. “High crimes and misdemeanors” are abuses of power and public trust connected to the office of the presidency. On the basis of the testimony presented to the House Intelligence Committee, President Trump has committed impeachable high crimes and misdemeanors by corruptly abusing the office of the presidency. Specifically, President Trump abused his office by corruptly soliciting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate his political rivals in order to gain personal advantage, including in the 2020 presidential election.
Imagine you have before you a blank sheet of paper. All existing copyright legislation, the whole history of property laws relating to creative works, has been completely erased. It’s up to you to rewrite it from scratch. Where would you start?…As Harvard law scholar Ruth Okediji put it in her brilliant keynote lecture on the festival’s Friday afternoon, “in important material respects, copyright law has written out creators.” Musicians, she claimed, were far more likely to find themselves the victims of copyright law than its beneficiaries – especially musicians from indigenous communities, or from the global south, or from impoverished communities in the global north. This is at least partly due to what Okediji called copyright’s “literary bias”. Copyright law was initially created to deal with written works and only somewhat uneasily transposed to the realm of music. Since then, the question of what is copyrightable in a work of music has tended to repeat this literary bias by favouring those elements that can easily be represented in writing – that is, for the most part, the melody and the harmony. The dots on the stave. But this is a prejudice catastrophically unfit for purpose when dealing with pop music. It has, in Okediji’s words, “created a hierarchy within creative circles” and “systematically underserved the vast majority of world cultures.”
Here’s the Radio Boston rundown for Dec. 5. Tiziana Dearing is our host…As Speaker Pelosi moves forward with drafting articles of impeachment against President Trump, we check in with WBUR senior news correspondent Kimberly Atkins and retired federal judge, senior lecturer and Harvard Law School and WBUR legal analyst Nancy Gertner.
The framers of the 232-year-old U.S. Constitution played a central role in Wednesday’s impeachment hearing as constitutional law professors outlined the case for, and against, ousting Republican President Donald Trump…Harvard Law School professor Noah Feldman said he believed the framers of the Constitution “would identify President Trump’s conduct as exactly the kind of abuse of office, high crimes and misdemeanors, that they were worried about. “And they would want the House of Representatives to take appropriate action and to impeach.”
In a somber six minute address to the nation, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi announced that the House of Representatives would begin drafting impeachment articles against the President of the United States because he violated his oath of office, and compromised US national security. In interview on Hardball with Chris Matthews, Laurence Tribe discussesTrump dismantling checks and balances.
As Democrats announce they’re moving forward with drafting articles of impeachment against President Trump, we check in with WBUR senior news correspondent and retired federal judge and WBUR legal analyst Nancy Gertner.
An op-ed by Laurence Tribe: As the House of Representatives moves toward formulating articles of impeachment, it is vital that the options on the table not be misframed. It’s a dangerously false choice to think that the House Judiciary Committee must either adopt a broad, kitchen-sink approach or take a narrow, laser-focused perspective. Yes, narrow is better than broad for the purposes of focus and public understanding. But narrow mustn’t mean myopic. What makes President Trump uniquely dangerous is not that he has committed a single terrible act that meets the Constitution’s definition of an impeachable offense. Neither Russia-gate nor Ukraine-gate was a one-night stand, and the obstruction of justice that enabled Trump to get away with asking for and benefiting from Russia’s intervention in the 2016 election is of a piece with his defiance of congressional investigations that might enable him to get away with demanding Ukraine’s intervention in 2020.
Law professor Jonathan Turley, Republicans’ witness testifying before the House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, did not make an impressive case against impeachment. He blatantly contradicted his position pre-President Trump that a criminal violation was not required for impeachment. Moreover, his main argument, namely that the House was moving too fast, leaves open the question as to whether in a few weeks or a month he might support impeachment. Constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe gave Turley poor marks, commenting on Twitter that Turley’s “call for solid evidence was a truism. He gave no reason at all to regard the evidence gathered by [Rep. Adam B. Schiff] as insufficient to establish impeachable offenses.” Tribe also tweeted that Turley made a fatal error in pointing out a “French mistress” would be a “thing of value” in a bribery case. Tribe observed, “Fake dirt on Biden was of way more value to Trump than any number of French (or Russian) mistresses. [Turley] has cooked Trump’s French goose.”
When Americans are not equally represented in our government, our democracy is endangered. That’s what’s happening now, argues law professor Lawrence Lessig in his latest book, They Don’t Represent Us: Reclaiming Our Democracy. “They,” Lessig tells me, refers both to our elected representatives, as well as the “voice” that they are representing. Lessig has been an outspoken critic of the Electoral College, campaign financing, and gerrymandering, and is a frequent commentator on these issues. In 2016, he took matters into his own hands, running for president on a platform of campaign finance reform. In his book, Lessig proposes some solutions to these problems, including penalties on states that suppress voters, incentives to end gerrymandering, and “civic juries,” which would be a system to have representative bodies make decisions on behalf of constituents. I spoke to Lessig, a professor at Harvard Law School, about the role of education in democracy and about why campaign funding is a critical obstacle to democracy, among other subjects. Here is our conversation, edited for length and clarity.
Since the hearings began in earnest three weeks ago, Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have argued over and over that President Trump’s behavior in asking Ukraine to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden falls short of justifying the extreme sanction of impeachment. … Professor Noah Feldman of Harvard Law School told the committee that Trump’s request that Ukraine investigate Biden, a prospective 2020 opponent, “constitutes a corrupt abuse of the power of the presidency.” Quoting William Richardson Davie, a delegate to the Constitutional Convention of 1787, Feldman said Trump’s request embodies the framers’ central worry that a sitting president would “spare no efforts or means whatever to get himself reelected.”