In 2011, Lawrence Lessig wrote “Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress—and a Plan to Stop It,” a book arguing that the ever-present need to fund political campaigns serves well-heeled funders and not the public interest. Now the Harvard Law professor and director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University has become an activist. And he is taking on the system he critiqued with a bold effort to appropriate what he sees as one of its corrupting forces.
At a Nov. 8 talk at Harvard Law School, Representative John Sarbanes ’88 (D-MD) advocated for “grassroots democracy” funded by the people rather than by Political Action Committees and other large donors. Sarbanes is a co-sponsor of the Grassroots Democracy Act, intended to empower small donors and to free lawmakers from their dependency on big money. The event was sponsored by the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University.
Lawrence Lessig, the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at HLS and director of Harvard’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, is the author of “Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress—and a Plan to Stop It,” an exhaustively researched and passionately argued indictment of Capitol Hill and the money-centered daily dance between lawmakers and lobbyists. As a columnist for Atlantic Magazine and in interviews on national media, he has shared his ideas on how to stop corruption in Congress. He was recently profiled in a Harvard Magazine piece by Jonathan Shaw entitled “A Radical Fix for the Republic.”
On Tuesday, July 24, Harvard Law School Professor Lawrence Lessig testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, Civil Rights and Human Rights at an open-session hearing titled “Taking Back Our Democracy: Responding to Citizens United and the Rise of Super PACs.”
Appearing at Harvard Law School a year and a half after being released from federal prison, a contrite Jack Abramoff expressed a desire to thwart the political corruption he once infamously practiced. The event on Dec. 6 was sponsored by the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, whose director, HLS Professor Lawrence Lessig, interviewed Abramoff, a former lobbyist who pleaded guilty in 2006 to charges of fraud, tax evasion, and conspiracy to bribe public officials. “His experience,” said Lessig, “has an enormous amount to teach us.”
At a recent event at Harvard Law School, HLS Professor Lawrence Lessig and Harvard Kennedy School Professor David Gergen discussed Lessig’s new book, “Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress—and a Plan to Stop It.” The event was co-hosted by the Harvard Law School Library, Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics, the Harvard Kennedy School Center for Public Leadership, and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society.
In the first lecture of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics series, Paul Thacker, an investigative journalist and former U.S. Senate Finance Committee staffer, said that big pharmaceutical dollars not only own physicians but also many prominent medical school faculty who are paid to lobby for drugs.
Harvard Law School Professor Lawrence Lessig, director of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard, gave the keynote speech at the American Bar Association Techshow on Monday, April 11th. The speech, titled “Code is Law: Does Anyone Get This Yet?” focused on regulatory change concerning Internet copyright issues.