Super PAC aims to end all other super PACs

The mission is simple, if not counterintuitive: Design a super PAC to destroy all super PACs, huge political action committees that allow for unlimited contributions from people, corporations, associations, and unions. Mayday PAC was launched recently by Harvard Law School professor, author, and activist Lawrence Lessig, and, according to its website, is “a crowdfunded, kickedstarted super PAC to end all super PACs.”

Remembering a Force in Jewish History

An op-ed by Noah Feldman. Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, who died 20 years ago today by the Jewish calendar, was easily the most important rabbi of the second half of the 20th century in the U.S. At his death, his legacy was uncertain: He left no successor, and his followers, the Chabad Lubavitch Hasidim, found themselves locked in a profound internal dispute about whether the man they expected to be revealed as the messiah had in fact died with the world unredeemed.

Book review: ‘Uncertain Justice : The Roberts Court and the Constitution’ by Laurence Tribe and Joshua Matz

The 2005 Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the nomination of John Roberts to be chief justice is best remembered for his oft-quoted assertion that “judges are like umpires.” Few remember the line that preceded it: “A certain humility should characterize the judicial role.” The Supreme Court will soon complete its ninth term with Roberts at the helm. In “Uncertain Justice,” Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe and his former student Joshua Matz find much to analyze and explain in the “wondrous complexity” of the Roberts court. Their well-told story is not one of judicial modesty, however, either for the aspirations of the Roberts court or for its impact on American life.

For Maryland gubernatorial candidate Anthony Brown, discipline and detail are key

Just ahead of Anthony Brown [`92] in Rockville’s Memorial Day parade, his opponents in the Maryland gubernatorial primary strutted their stuff…Now, as he completes his apprenticeship under Gov. Martin O’Malley (D), Brown is far ahead in the polls, fully expecting to win the June 24 Democratic primary and the November general election. He would be Maryland’s first black governor and the first lieutenant governor to ascend to the top spot…“Anthony was always somebody who knew where he was going,” says Charles Ogletree, a Harvard law professor who knew Brown and predicts he will be the nation’s second black president. “His approach was always, ‘I’m going to be competitive wherever I can.’ ”

How A Title IX Harassment Case At Yale In 1980 Set The Stage For Today’s Sexual Assault Activism

Catharine MacKinnon was a law student at Yale University in the mid-1970s when she had a radical idea: Sexual harassment on campus was discrimination, and it interfered with a woman’s ability to attend college. MacKinnon would put that theory to the test in a court case that her side would eventually lose, but that would have far-reaching effects. In recent months the issue of sexual assault and harassment at college has attracted the scrutiny of the White House and Congress. But some four decades ago, the gender equity law on which many federal inquiries into college sexual assault are based, Title IX, pertained primarily to sports. So in 1977, when MacKinnon advised a group of Yale students alleging harassment on campus to file their lawsuit, Alexander v. Yale, the legal argument was an untested theory.

U.S. Asserts Self-Defense in Benghazi Suspect Case

The Obama administration has told the United Nations that Ahmed Abu Khattala, the suspected ringleader of the 2012 attack on the American Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, was plotting additional attacks on Americans and that the United States conducted the weekend raid that seized him under its right to self-defense…Jack Goldsmith, a Harvard Law School professor who was a senior Justice Department official in the George W. Bush administration, wrote Wednesday that the critics “don’t have a legal leg to stand on” and that “civilian trial appears to be the only legally available option.”

Google Fiber Changes the Status Quo

An op-ed by Susan Crawford. Last week, the city council of Portland, Oregon voted to approve Google Fiber, the high-speed Internet service that Google plans to roll out in 34 cities across the country. I recently traveled to Kansas City, the first city to get Google Fiber, to talk to people there about the arrival of the service. Google learned some lessons in Kansas City that will likely be useful in Portland, such as lowering the barriers as much as possible to less-affluent “fiberhoods” so that they get service as well.

So You Can’t Lie When You Buy a Gun

An op-ed by Noah Feldman. Bruce Abramski bought a handgun for his uncle, hoping to use his expired police officer ID to get a discount. When the seller asked, as required by law, if the gun was for him, Abramski said yes. C’mon, wouldn’t you have done the same for a bargain? Next time, don’t. Abramski was convicted for making a false statement “material to the lawfulness of the sale” and a false statement with respect to information required for the dealer’s records — and today a divided U.S. Supreme Court upheld the convictions.

Does Supreme Court Want Truthier Elections?

An op-ed by Noah Feldman. Was a vote for the Affordable Care Act a vote for “taxpayer-funded abortion”? Sounds like a question of opinion, doesn’t it? But when a pro-life advocacy group called the Susan B. Anthony List said as much about then-Congressman Steve Driehaus’s vote during the 2010 election cycle, Driehaus filed an action charging them with making a false statement about his voting record, a crime under Ohio law. Driehaus lost the election, and the case was never decided. But the SBA folks still wanted the federal court to strike down the Ohio law as unconstitutional. Yesterday, the Supreme Court allowed their challenge case to go forward — and that tells us something important about the future of election law.

Fighting the IRS Just Got Harder

An op-ed by Noah Feldman. What do you dread more than a summons from the IRS? The tax authority is the closest thing to Dostoevsky’s Grand Inquisitor that our democracy allows. And today the U.S. Supreme Court made the Internal Revenue Service just a little bit stronger, overturning an appeals court opinion that would have allowed you to examine the IRS agents who summon you to find out if they have improper motives. The court established a reasonable-sounding rule: You can question the agents only if you can point to specific circumstances plausibly raising the inference of bad faith. In reality, however, it’ll be hard to pass this bar unless the courts share the skepticism of the IRS that is natural to most taxpayers.