Women Wage War at Western Wall

An op-ed by Noah Feldman. The Temple Mount conflict has made headlines in recent months as a possible cause of a string of Palestinian stabbings and Israeli retaliations. But at the Western Wall, in the literal shadow of the site — known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary — another long-ranging controversy has been simmering, one posing its own challenge to Israel’s identity as a Jewish and democratic state. The struggle concerns Jewish women who’ve been prohibited from reading the Torah at the Orthodox-dominated Western Wall. On Sunday, a group of them brought the issue to the Israeli Supreme Court, charging the Orthodox rabbi in charge of the holy site with discrimination on the basis of sex.

The Summer Meals Act: An easy choice for Speaker Ryan

An op-ed by Tommy Tobin ’16. Paul Ryan walked into his new role as speaker of the House with an ambitious agenda to fix a broken institution…Taking action on simple bills with broad bipartisan support can score the Wisconsin Republican easy legislative victories as he begins his new role. One such bill – The Summer Meals Act, H.R. 1728 – is a straightforward proposal that would support millions of American children in getting access to affordable, nutritious food over the summer months. Legislative action is needed now in order to prepare students, sponsors and state administrators for the summer of 2016.

Professor Kennedy: It’s About More Than Black Tape

An op-ed by Bianca Tylek `16. On Friday, only two days after the Boston Globe released my op-ed to share one student’s perspective on racism at Harvard Law School, Professor Randall Kennedy used the power of his professorial platform to excuse it. Despite admitting that he was so removed from campus that he was unaware of what minority students were facing (as further demonstrated by his need to poll students on their grievances), he nevertheless released his opinion to the New York Times. And, in doing so, he gave the country what it wanted to hear: today’s racism shouldn’t faze us. Professor Kennedy began by slyly referring to the almost two-inch wide black tape used to deface black faculty portraits as mere “slivers,” immediately looking to diminish their much more important implication. He then continued by questioning the motives behind the action, feeding into the palms of all those who want to doubt racism exists at Harvard Law School. And I begin my analysis of his opinion here.

Protesters Want Qualitative Diversity on Campus

An op-ed by Tomiko Brown-Nagin. This past week an unknown perpetrator vandalized the portraits of Harvard Law School’s black faculty members, mine included. Many students, colleagues, and friends responded to the defacement by expressing gratitude for the contributions that my colleagues and I make to the law school. I cherished these reactions for what they conveyed about my relationships with students, friends, and colleagues. But the vandalism had not wounded me. Coming of age in the Deep South two decades after Brown v. Board of Education, I encountered and contested many varieties of racism: the occasional epithet, intermittent harassment, social isolation, the flattening-out of my personhood into a single attribute—skin color—and the economic disadvantages imposed by Jim Crow. As a result of these experiences, I developed a thick skin and other attributes vital to a happy and productive life…Students of the current generation are drilling down on the qualitative aspects of diversity. Their critique of campus life poses a profound challenge to those who have never seriously contemplated how inclusion might or should change institutional practices inside the classroom and outside of it. Judging from the concerns expressed by groups on many different campuses, I gather that students hope to achieve four major components of qualitative diversity: representation, voice, community, and accountability.

Harvard Law panel will review school emblem, dean says

Harvard Law School Dean Martha L. Minow wants a special committee of faculty and students to gather views on whether the school’s seal, which features imagery from the family crest of a slaveholder benefactor, should be changed…On Monday, [Randall] Kennedy said in an interview that he supports Minow’s decision to foster a dialogue centered around questions about whether the Royall imagery should remain on the law school’s seal.“It seems like precisely the right posture for an institution of higher learning to take,” Kennedy said. “I think it’s a perfectly intelligent response.”“Let’s learn. Let’s think. Let’s debate.”

At Meeting, Law School Grapples With Race Relations

Facing a group of expectant students in a campus lecture hall on Monday, Harvard Law School Dean Martha L. Minow did her best to mollify students who have called on her to improve campus race relations, demands that intensified after a racially-charged incident shook the school two weeks ago…“This is a time for serious challenge and serious action,” Minow said in prepared remarks. “It’s a time when we need your talents and commitments more than ever. I called this meeting to discuss efforts underway at Harvard Law School for changes inside the school and work to tackle the challenges in the world.” Those include reconsidering the use of the school’s seal, which some students criticize because of its connection to a family that once owned slaves; changing it, according to Minow, would require the approval of the Harvard Corporation, the University’s highest governing body. Minow said the school also hopes to increase faculty diversity, while Marcia L. Sells, the Law School’s new dean of students, said she plans to hire a staff member to focus on diversity and inclusion, another demand common among student activists.

Harvard Law School To Review Use of Controversial Seal

As college students across the country press their institutions to confront the experiences of campus minorities, law schools and their students and alumni are increasingly being drawn into the debates. On Monday, Harvard Law School announced the formation of a committee to consider whether the school should continue to use as its seal a shield that was once the family crest of Isaac Royall Jr., a Massachusetts slave owner who endowed Harvard’s first professorship of law. A group of Harvard Law School faculty will determine “whether the Royall crest should be discarded from our shield,” said the school’s dean, Martha Minow, in a statement. “Through that process, we will gain a better sense of what course of action should be recommended and pursued, and we will discuss and understand important aspects of our history and what defines us today and tomorrow as a community dedicated to justice, diversity, equality, and inclusion.”

Obama still pondering death penalty’s role in justice system

Even as President Barack Obama tries to make a hard case for overhauling sentences, rehabilitating prisoners and confronting racial bias in policing, he has been less clear about the death penalty. Obama has hinted that his support for capital punishment is eroding, but he has refused to discuss what he might call for…Charles Ogletree, a Harvard law professor who taught the president, said: “Though not definitive, the idea that the president’s views are evolving gives me hope that he — like an increasing number of prosecutors, jurors, judges, governors and state legislators — recognizes that the death penalty in America is too broken to fix.”

Cass Sunstein writing ‘Star Wars’ book

Harvard professor Cass Sunstein is a prolific writer, but his books tend to be a bit wonkish. With titles like “After the Rights Revolution: Reconceiving the Regulatory State,” “Legal Reasoning and Political Conflict,” and “The Laws of Fear: Beyond the Precautionary Principle,” Sunstein’s collected works aren’t likely to be at our bedside. But that may be changing. According to the trade mag Publishers Weekly, Sunstein, whose wife is Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the United Nations, has inked a deal to write about pop culture. Well, sort of. Called “The World According to Star Wars,” the book will explore the George Lucas film franchise as it relates to the arc of history, rebellions, politics, law, economics, fatherhood, and culture. The new “Star Wars” movie, called “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” opens next month.