The Lawyer Behind the Drone Policy

When the White House nominated David Barron to be a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, based in Boston, it expected the usual Republican opposition. Mr. Barron, a Harvard law professor, is known as a liberal who was pointedly critical of President George W. Bush’s national security policy. What it didn’t expect — but should have — was that Democrats would have some problems with the nominee, too. Mr. Barron served as a top official in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel under President Obama, and he wrote several memos justifying the use of drones to kill an American citizen affiliated with Al Qaeda. The citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, died in a C.I.A. drone strike in Yemen in 2011.

Reinventing the internet: A political protocol to protect the internet, and where to find it

When Turkey’s dictator blocked Twitter and YouTube earlier this year, many citizens quickly found other ways to access the sites, proving further support for the adage that “the net interprets censorship as damage, and routes around it.” The saying, and the tools that make such rerouting possible, are a testament to the flexible technical protocols that make the internet so accessible to so many people. Yet the ability of Turkish citizens to see blocked websites is also a triumph for the internet’s political protocols, which time and again lead unaffiliated people to unite in an effort to overcome censorship…The most level-headed response to the outcry came from Jonathan Zittrain, a computer science and law professor at Harvard, who pointed out that it would be hard for the U.N. or anyone else to exert control over the internet for the simple reason that it’s not really something that can be owned in the first place.

Carmen Ortiz in the Spotlight, Under Fire

As Massachusetts’ first female and first Hispanic U.S. Attorney, Carmen Ortiz was widely considered a potential rising star in Democratic Party politics. But over the past three years she has had her hands full with controversial cases that have left whatever political plans she may have had in a state of uncertainty…That same year — 2011 — Ortiz’s office pursued federal charges on behalf of MIT against a talented computer programmer named Aaron Swartz…“If Aaron had been Goldman Sachs than it would have been handled in a much different way,” said Harvard Law professor Larry Lessig, Swartz’s friend and mentor.

Clarence Thomas Wishful Thinking, Revised

An op-ed by Noah Feldman. Speed-reading Clarence Thomas’s concurring opinion in the prayer case decided Monday, I got carried away. For years I’ve been frustrated with Thomas’s idiosyncratic argument that the establishment clause of the First Amendment was actually intended not only to bar establishment of a national religion but also to protect state establishments of religion. As I wrote on Tuesday and at much greater length in an academic article and in a book, this view is wrong and historically unsupported. No state admitted to having an established religion by 1789. The New England states facilitated local funding of ministers, but they didn’t call it an “establishment,” which was already a dirty word. And Thomas’s idea of protecting state establishments was, unsurprisingly, unmentioned in any state ratifying convention or in Congress when the clause was being proposed and discussed. In short, there’s no evidence in support of the view, and lots against it.

Alan Dershowitz decries Dzhokhar Tasarnaev’s consitutional challenge to death penalty

Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s lawyers want to stage a constitutional challenge to the death penalty in the wake of last week’s botched Oklahoma execution — but a leading death penalty opponent says the accused jihadi is the wrong poster boy for the cause. “This is not a good case,” Harvard Law School professor and constitutional lawyer Alan Dershowitz said about Tsarnaev, accused of acting on a Islamic extremist agenda in the Boston Marathon bombings and their aftermath that left four people dead, hundreds injured, and more than a dozen badly maimed.

Why Officials Don’t Tell the Media Everything

An op-ed by Cass R. Sunstein. The White House Correspondents’ Association dinner, which I attended last Saturday night, is an astonishing spectacle — a unique combination of journalists, government officials and celebrities. Amid the laughter and the conviviality, however, there is an uneasy undercurrent: Many journalists are disturbed that outside of an annual dinner, they cannot get a lot of access to those same officials.

The Meat We Eat: HLS hosts a forum on industrial animal farming (video)

How does the U.S. currently regulate animal farming, what are the barriers to reform, and what can be done to strengthen protections for consumers, animals, and nearby communities? How can we create a more transparent food system so that consumers can choose healthy, sustainably- and humanely-raised food? Those were some of the questions addressed when the Harvard Food Law Society hosted The Meat We Eat: 2014 Forum on Industrial Animal Farming, on Friday, April 4. The forum, co-hosted with the HLS Student Animal Legal Defense Fund, explored the legal and policy aspects of industrial animal farming and related effects on public health, the environment and animal welfare.

White House offers to show senators drone memo

Hoping to head off another confirmation battle, the White House said Tuesday that it will allow senators to review a secret paper justifying the drone strike on an American citizen written by one of President Barack Obama’s appellate court nominees.The White House is hoping the memo’s disclosure will lead to confirmation of David Barron for the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston. Barron is a Harvard Law professor who had worked as acting assistant attorney general at the Justice Department on the case of Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born al-Qaida leader killed by a U.S. drone in 2011.

Russia Quietly Tightens Reins on Web With ‘Bloggers Law’

Russia has taken another major step toward restricting its once freewheeling Internet, as President Vladimir V. Putin quietly signed a new law requiring popular online voices to register with the government, a measure that lawyers, Internet pioneers and political activists said Tuesday would give the government a much wider ability to track who said what online…The level of challenge is rising, but “we also see the amount of resources going into censorship increasing greatly,” Jonathan Zittrain, a professor at Harvard Law School who specializes in Internet law, said in a telephone interview.