I Will Protect Her

An op-ed by Bruce Hay. Against her better judgment, my beloved was reading the comments section of an article about the bathroom bills sweeping the country. A man calling himself rcp196935 had commented that the laws were necessary to keep women safe from predators. Having heard this refrain once too often, my beloved decided to respond. She is a trans woman, she explained, and poses no danger to anyone, and like any other woman should be allowed to use the public restrooms in peace. She signed it in her own name. Mr. rcp196935 had a reply for her.

A Kickback Is a Conspiracy to Extort Yourself. Wait, What?

An op-ed by Noah Feldman. The Supreme Court has decided a Baltimore Police Department extortion case straight out of “The Wire” on the basis of common sense. It held that the federal bribery statute allows a conviction for conspiracy to commit bribery even when the co-conspirator was also the victim. That’s the nature of a kickback, after all: The party that’s being extorted is also one of the beneficiaries of the scheme. This holding required the court to go beyond the literal words of the statute and ascertain its true purpose. The late Justice Antonin Scalia, who hated such purpose-driven statutory interpretation, is harrumphing somewhere as his textualism was rejected. You’d expect Justice Clarence Thomas to have dissented, and he did. But in a noteworthy twist, the other dissent in the 5-3 decision was written by Justice Sonia Sotomayor — and her opinion was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts. Both, it appears, disfavor the extension of conspiracy law, although perhaps for different reasons.

Congress Shouldn’t Let Justices Make the Rules

An op-ed by Noah Feldman. The most dramatic moment of my legal education came when Professor Owen Fiss of Yale Law School threw his paperback copy of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 25 feet across a classroom into a waiting trash can. It wasn’t just the eminent scholar’s aim that impressed me, but his point: that the federal rules of procedure are basically unconstitutional because of the way they’re adopted. Instead of being enacted by Congress and signed by the president like ordinary laws, procedural rules are written by the unelected Supreme Court, which transmits them to Congress, after which they ordinarily go into effect without change.

From fresh food to magic mushrooms

It is different this time for best-selling author Michael Pollan, and not just because his subject has changed. The people are different too. They’re not farming or fermenting or cooking. This time they’re dying. Pollan’s books about food, diet, and industrial agriculture — he is perhaps best known for 2006’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals” — have made him an influential voice in America’s food fight over obesity, nutrition, and diabetes, and have made him revered by those who believe that something is fundamentally wrong with how we mass produce and prepare our meals…Assistant Clinical Professor of Law Emily Broad Leib, director of the Harvard Food Law and Policy Clinic, hosted Pollan in a private meeting with clinic students and in one of her classes afterward. Pollan answered questions and asked students about their own food-related projects. Broad Leib credited Pollan with helping awaken the country to problems with the food system by explaining potentially dry topics like the intricacies of the U.S. farm bill in an easy-to-understand, engaging way. It’s telling, she said, that roughly three-fourths of student applicants to a Harvard food law summit last fall cited Pollan’s writing as influential.

Experts Warn of Backlash in Donald Trump’s China Trade Policies

On the campaign trail, Donald J. Trump has promised to do quite a few things that are beyond the powers of an American president, like billing Mexico for a border wall. But when it comes to foreign trade, his powers as president would come closer to his expansive ambitions….International trade laws limit the type of help governments can provide to companies, but the role of the Chinese government is particularly opaque, said Mark Wu, a professor of law at Harvard and a former United States trade negotiator in the administration of President George W. Bush. “China’s economy is its own beast, and it has a form that was not envisioned at the time these rules were created 20 years ago,” Mr. Wu said. “W.T.O. rules are not necessarily equipped to address all of the problematic aspects of that China Inc. system as far as American exporters are concerned.”

IndonesiaX provides free online courses from HarvardX

IndonesiaX, a massive open online course platform, has launched an online course in which materials are developed by HarvardX. The course, titled “Contract law: From trust to promise to contract”, is delivered in video format by Professor Charles Fried of Harvard Law School. Professor Fried is one of the world’s renowned experts in the field of contractual law and has been teaching in the Harvard Law School for nearly 50 years, and has also written a lot of studies about contracts. Professor Fried uses a storytelling approach to deliver his material, which gives his students a unique and interesting experience. The course videos are presented in English, however to ensure that every IndonesiaX course participants gets the same opportunity to learn, the platform provides an Indonesian translation.

When Treasury intrudes

An op-ed by Hal Scott. In remarkably unusual public statements, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew has aggressively criticized U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary Collyer’s legal decision to invalidate the Financial Stability Oversight Council’s designation of MetLife as a systemically important financial institution (SIFI). Mr. Lew asserts that Judge Collyer overturned FSOC’s conclusion that MetLife is a SIFI and that her decision contradicted key policy lessons from the financial crisis. He’s wrong. Judge Collyer makes no specific determination as to whether MetLife is a SIFI and certainly does not base her judicial decision on the policy lessons of the financial crisis.

Ban cruel bullhooks

A letter by Delcianna J. Winders, Animal Law & Policy Fellow. With Senate Bill 1062, the California legislature has an important opportunity to help elephants. The bill, which recently passed the Senate and is now before the Assembly, would ban the use of bullhooks — devices with sharp hooks on the end that resemble fireplace pokers and that are used to hurt and punish elephants. Bullhooks are used on the most sensitive parts of elephants’ bodies, where their skin is paper-thin, including behind the ears, inside the ears, and around the mouth. The Oakland Zoo stopped using these cruel weapons nearly a quarter of a century ago, and most zoos with elephants no longer use them.

Residents question police about body cameras proposal

When dozens of residents were asked Thursday evening if they supported body cameras for Boston police officers most raised their hands, but many wondered how the initiative would improve accountability in policing…Several residents wondered how officers would be selected for the pilot program and whether it would include officers throughout the city. “What will be done to ensure these 100 officers come from a variety of levels of seniority and not just model officers?” said Jillian Simons [`18], 32. Simons also questioned how the program’s success would be measured. “Is it that we catch a citizen or an officer doing something on camera, that’s successful? After six months what will be the measure of success?” she asked.

The Mistake That Separates Most Traders From the Pros

An op-ed by Cass Sunstein. Do investors suffer from behavioral biases? New research demonstrates that they do: They think that a crash is far more likely than it actually is. After you read the newspaper, you might well overreact to bad news about the market — and lose money as a result. The best explanation is that investors suffer from what behavioral scientists call the “availability heuristic,” which distorts people’s decisions in many domains. In their pathbreaking work on human behavior, Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman found that people make judgments about probability by asking about which events come most readily to mind (and hence are cognitively “available”).