Vets kicked out for being gay can upgrade their discharges

Carl Tebell finally received word in December that he had been granted an honorable discharge from the U.S. Navy nearly 70 years after he was drummed out for being gay. He is still waiting to receive his newly issued DD 214 discharge paperwork in the mail so he can access medical care at a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs facility in San Francisco. …Advocates for LGBT veterans estimate that roughly 114,000 U.S. service members were “involuntarily separated” from the military due to their sexual orientation between the end of World War II and the repeal in 2011 of the homophobic “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that barred LGBT people from serving openly in the military. While many of those veterans could likely qualify to correct or upgrade their discharges, just 8% had done so as of 2018, according to a report presented that April at a conference held at the Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School.

Harvard librarian puts this war crime on the map

In August 1992, in the Bosnian city of Sarajevo, nearly 2 million books went up in flames. Fragile, 500-hundred-year-old pamphlets and vibrant Ottoman-era manuscripts disintegrated into ash as the building holding them, the National Library of Bosnia-Herzegovina, was shelled and burned. It was not the first act of cultural destruction by Serbian forces against other ethnic groups in the Balkans, and it certainly wasn’t the last: Over the next seven years, Serb nationalists led by dictator Slobodan Milosevic would wreak havoc across the Balkan region. … Alex Whiting, a Harvard Law School professor and former prosecutor for the ICTY, credits Riedlmayer’s thorough documentation with lasting change in how cultural heritage destruction is viewed. “In cases where thousands of people have been brutalized, driven from their homes, tortured, and murdered, trying to get the court to focus on destruction of churches or monuments can be hard,” Whiting said. “[Riedlmayer’s] work showed this was more than just destruction of buildings … cultural genocide is a people being attacked.”

Mike Bloomberg tweeted a doctored debate video. Is it political spin or disinformation?

Following his lackluster performance in Wednesday’s Democratic presidential debate, former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg tweeted out a doctored video that made it look like he had a hugely successful moment on the debate stage, even though he didn’t. … Take what happened earlier this month: Trump tweeted out a video that had been edited to make it look like Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi was ripping up the president’s State of the Union speech during touching moments, such as the introduction of a Tuskegee airman. That’s not what transpired: Pelosi did rip up the speech, but only at the end of the full address. Jonathan Zittrain, a legal expert at Harvard, argues that tweet shouldn’t be taken down, even though it’s misleading, because it’s protected by free speech. “It’s political expression that could be said to be rearranging the video sequence in order to make a point that ripping up the speech at the end was, in effect, ripping up every topic that the speech had covered,” he wrote on Medium on February 10. “And to show it in a video conveys a message far more powerful than just saying it — something First Amendment values protect and celebrate, at least if people aren’t mistakenly thinking it is real,” Zittrain wrote.

Harvard Law Group Argues ICE Court Arrests Unconstitutional

Massachusetts officials suing Immigration and Customs Enforcement over warrantless arrests at state courthouses got a boost Thursday from Harvard Law School’s immigrant and refugee clinic, whose leadership said state courts are being illegally forced to carry out a federal agenda not enumerated in the Constitution and to sideline Sixth Amendment trial rights. The HLS Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program and its leaders, alongside professor Nikolas Bowie, filed the amicus brief Thursday in support of two Boston-area district attorneys, a community organization and a public defender group jointly suing ICE over its warrantless arrests at courthouses where noncitizens have gone for various reasons, including to serve as witnesses in criminal trials. They are currently fighting ICE’s motion for dismissal. “The federal government’s asserted power to conduct warrantless courthouse arrests is not reasonably necessary for exercising any enumerated power, and the resulting disruption of state court proceedings and interference with the commonwealth’s duty to provide access to its courts fails to properly accommodate state interests,” the clinic wrote.

Holding Egypt Accountable for the Death of Moustafa Kassem Under International Law

An op-ed by Todd Carney ’21: Last month, a dual American and Egyptian citizen named Moustafa Kassem, who had been arrested in Egypt, died in an Egyptian prison. Kassem’s death occurred despite the fact that paperwork had been provided to Egyptian prison authorities that should have secured Kassem’s release. Prior to Kassem’s death, the US had been making diplomatic overtures from levels as high as Vice President Mike Pence, but these overtures went nowhere. While there is a significant political controversy around the failure to release Kassem, it also raises interesting legal questions in terms of whether Egypt violated international law and if so what can be done to hold Egypt accountable. This post seeks to answer those questions.


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.