Conduct Unbecoming an HLS Classroom

“It is not unusual in some classes to hear a left-wing student’s comments applauded, a conservative’s booed. … ‘I’ve had booing and hissing take place when I said certain things [in class]'” (Bulletin, “All the Right’s Moves,” Spring 2003). This sort of conduct in the classroom raises three questions:

1. Do left-wing students consider this a reasoned analysis and response to positions with which they disagree?

2. Does Harvard Law School consider this an appropriate response for its would-be lawyers to the expression of dissenting and minority views?

3. Don’t the HLS professors in whose classrooms this conduct takes place feel a professional obligation to maintain discipline and order in their classes so that the expression of unpopular views is encouraged and all students have an opportunity to speak their minds and question the conventional wisdom? And if any professors are too afraid to meet this educational obligation to all their students, why are they still teaching at Harvard?

Education Should Be Nonpartisan

As a friend, not a graduate, of Harvard University, please accept my appreciation for your splendid article “All the Right’s Moves,” published in Harvard Law Bulletin Spring 2003. Alas, believe me, after earning a Ph.D. in higher education from one of Southern California’s private universities, I indeed recognize the need for more conservative professors to try to balance the proliferation of liberal faculty members. University students should be educated by fair professional presentations of liberal plus conservative views. A third-year, fine female law student at a Los Angeles university regretfully related to me how she was practically persecuted in classes because her political party proved to be Republican.

I am resolutely nonpartisan. I trust future students will not only participate in the Federalist Society but will be allowed to do so without less-than-thoughtful negative reactions from other students and/or professors. Educational goals ought to be based on intellectual exploration. Banish biased bombardment from any side!

Road Less Traveled Paved with Satisfaction

Congratulations on an informative article on Harvard-educated corporate counsel (“Some Old Familiar Places,” Bulletin, Spring 2003). As a partner in an executive search firm, I see candidates every day who are seriously exploring legal careers on the corporate side. The number one consideration, we are told, is job satisfaction. It is not for everyone, but an increasing number are choosing this path less traveled. I know I did!

Another View of Squaw Valley

For an account of Alex Cushing more revealing than the recent Bulletin piece, you might direct your readers to Hewlett
v. Squaw Valley Ski Corporation, 54 Cal. App. 4th 499, 63 Cal. Rptr. 2d 118 (1997). A unanimous Court of Appeal, upholding the trial court, concluded, among other things:

“The record is replete with evidence of Squaw Valley’s complete disregard for procedures designed to protect the environment and forest resources. … The fact that a hearing was pending on an injunction to preclude further cutting spurred Squaw Valley to advance its plans and fall a large number of trees. One employee overheard Alexander Cushing, Squaw Valley’s owner, approve the January 1989 tree cutting by saying, ‘What are they going to do, make us replant them?’ Squaw Valley’s cavalier attitude led to the cutting of more than 1,800 trees, many of them hundreds of years old, without the proper FPA permits, without a valid EIR and without an approved use permit. … Squaw Valley’s actions destroyed an irreplaceable natural treasure. …” 54 Cal. App. 4th 541-542.

In addition to a concluding reference to “the egregious conduct and disdainful attitude exhibited by Squaw Valley” (54 Cal. App. 4th 543), the Court of Appeal noted the resort’s prior “flagrant and willful” violations of environmental conditions on a 1970s permit had led to revocation of that permit (54 Cal. App. 4th 511).

The Bulletin could contribute something more than lip service to legal ethics by looking beyond the success of HLS alumni to how they achieve their success. In this case, routine reporting inquiries would probably have raised questions. This kind of reporting does nothing for the law school.

HLS Does Indeed Have a Heart

ohn Jay Osborn Jr.’s “Testimony” in the latest Bulletin brought to mind my own early conflicted feelings about HLS, which pretty much mirrored his own. And the amelioration of his early feelings with the help he describes having gotten from Assistant Dean Stephen Bernardi in obtaining a clerkship “for no other reason than he wanted to be helpful” also mirrors my experience. In my case, it was then Vice Dean Livingston Hall’s intervention on my behalf not once, but twice.

In early 1960, I had accepted an offer to clerk with a Chicago law firm for the following summer. About two months later, I read in The New York Times that that law firm had terminated an associate who had been active in fair housing matters on Chicago’s North Shore on a pro bono basis, about which a prominent client had complained. I called the hiring partner to verify the story, and when he did, I told him I would have to withdraw my acceptance. By then, of course, all worthwhile clerkships had long been filled, so in desperation I visited Dean Hall, who was in charge of placements, and as soon as he heard my story, he picked up the phone, called Ernie Sargent, hiring partner at what was then Ropes, Gray, Best, Coolidge & Rugg, and persuaded him to add a clerk to his already filled summer quota.

That was certainly more than I expected from Dean Hall, but his kindness and generosity were not yet exhausted. In the fall of 1960, I saw a placement notice for a clerkship with a senior circuit judge on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. It invited applicants to see Dean Hall. Being far distant from Law Review or other normal requirements for such a position, I was reluctant, but my wife persuaded me to take my best shot. Dean Hall looked at my record, informed me that he had the authority to choose the clerk without an interview with the judge and said that he would let me know after reviewing the several other applicants for the job. Ten days later, Dean Hall’s letter arrived directing me to report for work with Senior Circuit Judge William E. Orr in San Francisco in six months.

So it seems that Osborn and I now agree that, despite its best P.R. efforts to the contrary, HLS does indeed have a heart and exhibits it to good effect to its students when it really counts. Thanks for printing Osborn’s “Testimony” and reminding me of this.

Berlin Wall Mentality Should Tumble

I was troubled to read your account of 3L Ahmed el-Gaili’s visa tribulations appearing in the last issue of the Bulletin. Yet, in light of the “Berlin Wall” mentality demonstrated in the action of the visa officers, I am not surprised by your account of Ahmed’s experience with them.

I suppose that the public generally–as has Harvard Law School in this instance–have long acquiesced in this type of arbitrary administration of the visa authority, perhaps because those principally affected–the lonely foreigner and the less affluent–had not clout or did not communicate their plight.

Nevertheless, in light of what appears to be inherent and obvious legal deficiencies in the handling of Ahmed’s visa applications, I wonder where those shining knights in armor in the great liberal faculty of the Harvard Law School have been hiding out while Ahmed, the lone Sudanese citizen, was engaging in his tilt with a determined army of the visa authority? Certainly involved in this contest were the interests of the Harvard Law School, its student body and faculty, as well as Ahmed’s interests.

If you accept or believe the account of the U.S. State Department spokesman that “visa procedures have now been improved,” I would have to regard your reaction as excessively naive. Of course, in mitigation it may be argued that the spokesman has viewed the inquiry as a mere matter of semantics, to the effect that “to improve” may mean simply that whereas previously a few visas were denied, now all are denied. A great improvement.

Editor’s note: The Bulletin article on Ahmed el-Gaili omitted the fact that, in the midst of visa delays, he received assistance from Harvard administrators and faculty, including Professor William Alford ‘ 77, associate dean for the Graduate Program and International Legal Studies, that helped him to enroll in law school in London and graduate with his class in June.

In Israel, Equality Is No Academic Question

For Sandra Badin, who envisions a third-year paper on how the Israeli Supreme Court has dealt with equality claims of Arab Israelis (Bulletin, Spring 2003), the matter may well be a “fascinating intellectual question.” For Jews living in Israel, however, the same matter is one of life and death.

Given the current rate of Arab birth and illegal immigration, the present Arab minority will be a majority in less than 40 years. Accordingly, unfettered and lingering equality may-in Jewish terms-be tantamount to national, racial and religious suicide, and result in a slaughter of Jews that will render the current Arab strategy of murder of innocent men, women and children a turkey shoot by comparison. It therefore behooves the Israeli Knesset and courts to recognize that the preservation of the Jewish character of the state transcends the democratic ideal.

Perhaps Sandra should reconsider and write a paper about the total absence of freedom and equality in numerous Arab states instead of bringing into question legitimate and reasonable restraints in democratic Israel.

Protesting About Protesters Is Shortsighted

Robert B. Spindle ’52-’53 deplores the antiapartheid protests that Jennifer Granholm ’87 participated in. It is good to hear the true voice of ’50s America is still alive and well. If Spindle and his generation had raised their voices in their own time, the stain of McCarthyism would not have spread so wide and deep, and the shameful record of nonprotest by Harvard would not remain a stain on the record and reputation of the university and the law school.

Circumcision a Human Rights, Not Religious, Issue

Regarding the religious issue raised by Jerold Jacobs ’68 in his letter (Bulletin, Spring 2003), at Attorneys for the Rights of the Child, we focus primarily on working to halt the uniquely American practice of medicalized circumcision; we largely refrain from addressing the Jewish or Islamic procedures. Medicalized circumcision is a Victorian relic from the days when circumcision was thought to stop masturbation and help prevent disease. Worldwide, lawyers, physicians, bioethicists and scholars oppose circumcision because they understand the foreskin’s important immunological, protective and erogenous functions. The United Nations has repeatedly stated that genital cutting can constitute a human rights violation.

A growing number of Jews, including rabbis, question circumcision, and many conscientious, well-informed individuals have concluded that this particular practice is neither appropriate nor necessary for Jewish continuity and expression in modern society. Some Jews in the United States, South America, Europe and Israel do not circumcise. We expect that the more people learn about circumcision, the more they will question it.