Thomas Jefferson’s Vision of Equality Was Not All-Inclusive. But It Was Transformative

An article by Annette Gordon-Reed: Thomas Jefferson began life in a monarchy, under the reign of George II, in one of Britain’s North American colonies—Virginia. In this monarchical system everyone knew his or her place, with little expectation of being able to move very far outside of it. Though the American provincials were not on a par with the aristocrats in the mother country, they had developed their own version of hierarchy. Jefferson, by dint of his family ties, was born at the top, and there would have been no reason to suspect that he would ever come to be associated with the idea of equality. This is especially so given that he was born into a slave society, and his family fully participated in the institution of slavery. From an early age, he would have understood what unequal status meant, with his lifelong involvement in the most extreme version of it as a slave owner. The equality of humankind was simply not an expectation in his world.

Stone case lays bare Barr’s not so just Justice Department

An op-ed by Nancy Gertner: When Department of Justice prosecutors told the judge in Roger Stone’s case that their sentencing recommendation — consistent with the Federal Sentencing Guidelines — was seven to nine years following Stone’s November conviction on seven felonies related to obstruction, witness tampering, and lying and investigators, President Trump tweeted that this was a miscarriage of justice coming from “rogue prosecutors.” The next day Attorney General William Barr apparently directed his office to file an amended memo to the court, undercutting the first, recommending less time. (The four prosecutors quickly resigned from the case, one from the Justice Department entirely.) The memo reflects the DOJ’s empathy for Trump’s longtime adviser Roger Stone, 78, who had been facing substantial prison time.

Why Sanders Supporters Are So Tenacious

An op-ed by Cass Sunstein:  Bernie Sanders has said that he will support the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee, no matter who he or she is. But some Democrats worry that a lot of his supporters will not work or even vote for any other candidate, whereas the backers of his Democratic rivals will enthusiastically work or vote for anyone the party nominates, including Sanders. It is too soon to know whether this worry is justified. But we do know that in 2016, many of Sanders’s supporters were extremely angry that Hillary Clinton won the Democratic nomination, and they refused to support her.

Boy Scouts’ Bankruptcy Is a Troubling Use of Chapter 11 Law

An op-ed by Noah Feldman: Maybe you’ve heard: Boy Scouts of America is filing for bankruptcy to put an end to the sexual abuse lawsuits it is facing. On one level, it’s business as usual. From makers of IUDs in the 1980s to opioid manufacturers today, it’s become standard for corporations liable for harm on a large scale to take advantage of the protection of bankruptcy. The victims get some compensation while the organization gets legal clarity and finality. Yet on closer examination, there’s something strange, even troubling about using laws designed to resolve business meltdowns to address the social ills caused by nonprofit entities that are meant to do good, yet in fact impose egregious harm.

 

Judge in Roger Stone Trial Confronts a High-Pressure Decision

Amy Berman Jackson is no stranger to working under pressure. As a federal prosecutor three decades ago, she was in the final hours of a momentous murder trial when prospective jurors for her next trial — an armed robbery case against three defendants — showed up in the same courthouse. … “No judge should have to face this kind of pressure,” said Nancy Gertner, a Harvard Law School professor and former federal judge. She described Mr. Trump’s criticism of Judge Jackson as “preposterous.” But “nobody who knows her thinks she cannot handle it,” Ms. Gertner said. “She is tough and independent and very smart. She will steel herself against political influence and focus on the facts and the law.”

Lawsuit: Department of Education is making it ‘nearly impossible’ for defrauded students to cancel their student loans

A lawsuit filed Wednesday alleges that new Department of Education rules, set to take effect in July, will make it more difficult for scammed students to write off their student loans. … The lawsuit was filed by the student-advocacy nonprofit, the Project on Predatory Student Lending and Public Citizen Litigation Group, on behalf of the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG), which provides free legal services, in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. NYLAG is represented by Public Citizen Litigation Group, the legal arm of Public Citizen, a consumer advocacy group, and the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School’s Project on Predatory Student Lending.

FERC eyes renewables in New York

If FERC does reverse itself and apply mitigation rules more broadly, it will have hampered clean energy participation in the three markets targeted by the Department of Energy’s 2017 grid resilience proposal, which would have provided ratepayer funded contracts to coal, nuclear and oil plants in those regions. FERC unanimously rejected that DOE plan in early 2018, but critics say the MOPR orders will do more to support fossil fuel plants because the price floors are more likely to withstand legal challenges than the poorly-designed DOE plan. States may not stand idly by. New York utility regulators already have a proceeding open that could pull them from the NYISO’s capacity market, putting the state in charge of long-term generation planning once again. “The more aggressive FERC Is on these issues, the more likely it will lead to the demise of the New York ISO capacity auction,” said Ari Peskoe, director of the Electricity Law Initiative at the Harvard Law School Environmental and Energy Law Program.

Why Are Workers Struggling? Because Labor Law Is Broken

There’s little pressure for corporations to accede to labor’s demands when Trump has hamstrung enforcement. … This month, Democrats in the House passed a bill to broaden the right of employees to organize and strike to include independent contractors, who number between 10.5 and 15 million, and to increase the penalties for companies that violate the N.L.R.A. In January, Clean Slate for Worker Power, a coalition of more than 70 participants from labor, academia and nonprofit organizations brought together by Harvard Law School’s Labor and Worklife Program, released proposed reforms that would extend the N.L.R.A.’s protections to agricultural and domestic workers as well as independent contractors and also give all workers a say in how companies are run. One of Clean Slate’s most sweeping recommendations is for sectoral bargaining, which is common in Scandinavia, and makes it legal to negotiate a contract across an industry rather than one company at a time.

Presidential Pardons Have Been a Bad Idea Since 1787

An op-ed by Noah Feldman: The president of the United States isn’t a king, and he isn’t above the law — or so constitutional law professors like me keep reminding everybody. But the painful truth is that there is one exception to this truth: the pardon power, exercised this week by President Donald Trump to free or absolve several white-collar criminals. The presidential power to pardon is a holdover from British monarchy. And pardoning by definition goes above and outside the legal system. The pardon power therefore poses a structural threat to the republican character of the U.S. government.

‘Made of Steel’: Judge Amy Berman Jackson Set to Sentence Roger Stone After Trump’s Attacks

President Donald Trump’s associate Roger Stone will be sentenced Thursday on obstruction and perjury charges by a judge who has come under attack by the president as he assails the case against Stone.  …“She is made of steel,” said retired Massachusetts federal Judge Nancy Gertner, who is now a professor at Harvard Law School. …Gertner said that with his tweets Trump “is creating this cacophony that (Jackson) has to then work not to listen to.” “She’s really strong, and she’s really smart,” Gertner said. “And being smart makes all the difference in the world because you then know what the law requires.”