Not just a good read

Let me state the obvious: The Bulletin is first-rate. Not only a good read, it’s a healthy mix of campus issues/updates and interesting outside topics and profiles. Though I am sure you have to do your share of cheerleading, you keep it at a minimum, which is nice. Keep up the good work.

A McCarthy-era memory

Your article (very good) on the Ames Moot Court competition (Spring 2006) recalls the names of illustrious finalists Harry Blackmun [’32] et al. but omits another less illustrious, one Alger Hiss [’29]. He was convicted in 1950 during my last year at HLS, and that event was duly celebrated by some school wag who draped black crepe over the Ames bronze plaque in Langdell bearing his name. Sic transit gloria mundi!

Amazing grace (and humility)

We were deeply saddened to learn of Professor Arthur T. von Mehren’s passing on Jan. 16, 2006. Both of us were privileged to be among the numerous Harvard Law School students whose legal education was enriched by Professor von Mehren’s extraordinary erudition. While his scholarly accomplishments and contributions were incomparable, Professor von Mehren infused the classroom with a grace and humility all too infrequent in the academic halls of today. He will be sorely missed.

Long-lasting impression

David Westfall

David Westfall’s love of teaching influenced HLS students for 50 years.

I read with great sadness about the passing of David Westfall (Spring 2006). I don’t often find myself quoting HLS professors 12 years after graduating, but just yesterday (not knowing that he had passed away), I was looking at my 2-week-old daughter, and one of my closest friends jokingly asked me if I was ready for a lifetime of spending. I said to him, “Oh, no—not a lifetime. Professor Westfall said (in his Missouri drawl), ‘A moment of passion is worth 18 years of payments, except in New York, where it’s 21.’” Anyone who can leave that kind of impression—12 years after a one-semester encounter—is a pretty special person in my book.

In the beginning there was a theory

I take issue with Professor Stuntz’s contentions in the Spring 2006 edition of the Bulletin (“Is the case for intelligent design designed intelligently?”) that lawyers and scientists proceed from diverse positions in their respective arguments. Scientists, particularly in the medical field, usually have a preconceived hypothesis which they are determined to prove.

While Darwin’s observations adequately explain differentiation among the beaks of finches in the Galapagos Islands, I find them unpersuasive as to the development of an eye and totally irrelevant for the “big bang.” Fortunately, scientific inquiry in physics has not been limited to the postulates of Isaac Newton.

Inquiry is always appropriate, even if its purpose is to prove a point. In both science and law, the question is, “Does it?”