Would You Go to a Republican Doctor?

An op-ed by Tali Sharot and Cass R. Sunstein. Suppose you need to see a dermatologist. Your friend recommends a doctor, explaining that “she trained at the best hospital in the country and is regarded as one of the top dermatologists in town.” You respond: “How wonderful. How do you know her?”Your friend’s answer: “We met at the Republican convention.” Knowing a person’s political leanings should not affect your assessment of how good a doctor she is — or whether she is likely to be a good accountant or a talented architect. But in practice, does it?

If Trump Can’t Block Twitter Users, Twitter Can’t Either

An op-ed by Noah Feldman. The best way to understand why a federal district court was wrong Wednesday, when it held that Twitter users have a constitutional right not to be blocked by President Donald Trump’s personal account, is to consider the lawsuits that will come next. I can point to a variety of reasons the decision was wrong, some of which I’ve already explored in an earlier column. It should be overturned on appeal. But chief among the problems is that the government doesn’t ultimately control what the court called the “interactive space” of replies to the president’s tweets — Twitter Inc. does.

Will Law Firms Bow to Pressure to End Mandatory Arbitration?

It only took a single tweet—amplified by the #MeToo movement—to force a national debate about how large law firms force associates and other workers address alleged workplace misconduct…“We have a lot of concerns about people not knowing what they’re getting themselves into when they sign these contracts, because they feel like they don’t have any option,” said Molly Coleman, a first-year law student at Harvard Law School who helped organize a campaign scrutinizing their use.

Justice Department briefings: What in the world is going on?

The Justice Department held two unprecedented, highly controversial briefings for two groups of lawmakers concerning an ongoing criminal and counter-intelligence investigation….According to constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe, the sessions “exemplify the slow but steady collapse of the most basic norms of investigatory, prosecutorial and judicial independence and display Trump doing in plain sight what Richard Nixon worked so hard to hide from public view.” He explained, “What disturbs me most is that not even sacrificing our counterintelligence shield against foreign adversaries with no factual basis is beyond this president — and that not even such transparent treachery is likely to be recognized by the public for the betrayal it clearly is once Trump enlists his Fox allies to label responsible investigation as ‘Spygate.’ ”

The Supreme Court Sticks It to Workers, Again

If you wanted to measure just how different the Supreme Court is with the addition of Neil Gorsuch instead of Merrick Garland — who should be sitting in Justice Gorsuch’s seat but for the outrageous machinations of Senate Republicans — read the court’s Monday ruling in Epic Systems v. Lewis…Justice Gorsuch appears to imagine workers and employers negotiating under Marquess of Queensberry rules, engaged in a fair and equal face-off over working conditions and terms of employment. It’s a neat little story, and, “If you lived on the moon, with no knowledge of the realities of labor relations or the politics of class actions, you’d think it was obviously correct,” as Harvard law professor Noah Feldman wrote.

These U.S. Workers Are Being Paid Like It’s the 1980s

Thanks to a web of loopholes and limits, the federal government has been green-lighting hourly pay of just $7.25 for some construction workers laboring on taxpayer-funded projects, despite decades-old laws that promise them the “prevailing wage.”…For taxpayer-funded projects in seven states, surveys used to determine the prevailing wage for some jobs haven’t been conducted for three decades or more. In such places, “the Act becomes meaningless,” said Mark Erlich, the former executive secretary-treasurer of the New England Regional Council of Carpenters. With rates so low, compensation standards throughout the industry are dragged down, said Erlich, now a fellow at Harvard Law School. In states such as New Hampshire and Maine, where prevailing wage rates haven’t kept up, unionized firms often don’t bother bidding for government-backed work, he said, because they know they will be underbid.

Orators speak to inspire on Commencement Day

Three student orators will mark Commencement Day, delivering speeches in both English and Latin during Morning Exercises in Tercentenary Theatre. This year, classics concentrator Phoebe Lakin will deliver the Latin Salutatory, given, not surprisingly, in Latin. Economics concentrator Christopher Egi will deliver the Senior English Address, and Harvard Law School student Pete Davis [`18] will deliver the Graduate English Address…“How [can we] get people excited and empower people?” Davis said. “How can we make being part of a political party not just getting hit up for money and votes every four years, but when you’re sick, fellow Democrats bring you soup? You go to meetings that speak to your spiritual and communal side and not just the angry and political side?”

Philip Roth Wasn’t Judgmental Enough for His Critics

An op-ed by Noah Feldman. It’s hard to think of a contemporary writer who inspires more intense disagreement than Philip Roth, who died Tuesday at 85. From the surface, the debate seems to be about feminism: Observers have long noted that Roth’s female characters are less than fully realized, while his male characters often express misogynistic attitudes. But the disagreement, I think, goes deeper — to the question of what social function literature should fulfill. To Roth’s admirers, the point of literature is to expose depths of human experience that would otherwise be hidden or repressed. Roth certainly excelled in reporting on the vicissitude of desire, especially the male and the Jewish one. This is, after all, the man who famously described “the perfect couple: she puts the id back in Yid; I put the oy back in goy.”

Trump violated the Constitution when he blocked his critics on Twitter, a federal judge rules

President Trump’s decision to block his Twitter followers for their political views is a violation of the First Amendment, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, saying that Trump’s effort to silence his critics is not permissible because the digital space in which he engages with constituents is a public forum…Noah Feldman, a Harvard law professor, said he thinks the case was wrongly decided and expects it to be reversed. For a public forum to exist, the government has to own or control it, he said, but in this case, Twitter also controls Trump’s account.

Black defendants receive longer prison terms from Republican-appointed judges, study finds

Federal judges appointed by Republican presidents give black defendants sentences that are, on average, six to seven months longer than the sentences they give to similar white defendants, according to a new working paper from Alma Cohen and Crystal Yang of Harvard Law School. That racial sentencing disparity is about twice as large as the one observed among judges appointed by Democrats, who give black defendants sentences that are three to four months longer than the sentences they give to white defendants with similar histories who commit similar crimes…“Overall, these results indicate that judicial ideology may be a source of the persistent and large racial and gender disparities in the criminal justice system,” Cohen and Yang conclude.