Black Studies Matters

Will the Black Lives Matter movement succeed? The entire country waits with bated breath to hear that question answered. And although pundits and protestors alike have compared Black Lives Matter to the civil rights movement generally in order to evaluate and predict the future of the contemporary demonstrations, a specific branch of that earlier campaign deserves additional attention…Bradley sees some promise in smaller reforms that have been made in Ferguson’s municipal government, as well as in the few policy goals—like putting cameras on police officers—that have begun to emerge. McKenzie Morris [`15], president of the Harvard Black Law Students Association, expressed hope to the HPR that these policies would take hold. “The police cameras, in my opinion, are the first tangible step through which people are trying to get to the main goal, which is accountability,” she said. “That is the main policy goal out of all of this: a true checks and balances system that does not currently exist.”

Texas County Refuses To Accept Federal Checkpoint Drug Cases

A border county in Texas with two U.S. Border Patrol highway checkpoints is refusing to prosecute drug cases previously sent to it from those checkpoints. The county—and all four states bordering Mexico—wants funding from Washington, D.C. to handle cases that federal prosecutors decide to send to state courts…Jennifer Chacón at the University of California Irvine School of Law said the Texas case isn’t unfolding in a vacuum. “What we are seeing is part of a broader set of developments that have been caused by Congressional choices about funding law enforcement, particularly along the southern border,” she said…“It is telling that we see this in Hudspeth County, in the state of Texas, a state that has drug laws aligned with the federal government’s zero tolerance approach,” she said from Cambridge, Mass., where she is a Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School.

Obama’s Expected Keystone Pipeline Veto Is Likely to Be the First in a Wave

Wielding the weapon of his pen, President Obama this week is expected to formally reject a Republican attempt to force construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. But in stopping the transit of petroleum from the forests of Alberta to the Gulf Coast, Mr. Obama will be opening the veto era of his presidency…Jody Freeman, director of Harvard’s environmental law program and a former senior counselor to the president, said there was no doubt that Mr. Obama would veto such an effort if Republicans got it through Congress.

Calpine, Harvard Law Professors Defend EPA Carbon Plan (registration)

Natural gas power company Calpine Corp. and a group of Harvard University law professors on Thursday told the D.C. Circuit that the EPA must be allowed to finalize its greenhouse gas reduction plan for existing power plants before any legal challenges may be decided. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan has been challenged by coal mining company Murray Energy Corp., along with a variety of states and other industry groups. They have alleged the agency lacks the authority to issue the rule and that the rule would harm their economic health. But in separate amici briefs, Calpine and Harvard law professors Richard Lazarus and Jody Freeman said the EPA is on firm ground.

Penn law professors join critics of university sexual assault policies

A group of professors from the University of Pennsylvania Law School have added their voices to the debate about how best to ensure fairness as universities strive to respond to sexual violence. The open letter by 16 professors acknowledges that sexual assault is a serious concern, but criticizes revised procedures adopted by the university Feb. 1…“More and more people are seeing that there are competing interests and values … that need to be brought into the discussion,” says Janet Halley, a Harvard Law professor who was among those who signed a similar letter in October objecting to revised policies at Harvard University.

Judge Issues No Final Decision on Divest Lawsuit

A Massachusetts Superior Court judge on Friday did not issue a final decision on motions by Harvard and the state Attorney General’s office to dismiss a lawsuit suing the University to divest from fossil fuels…The student complainants, for their part, said they were optimistic for their case. “I feel like we definitely presented the case in the way we intended,” plaintiff and Harvard Law School student Joseph E. Hamilton [`16] said after the hearing. “We are optimistic [the judge] will rule in our favor.”

Lawsuits’ Lurid Details Draw an Online Crowd

Intimate, often painful allegations in lawsuits — intended for the scrutiny of judges and juries — are increasingly drawing in mass online audiences far from the courthouses where they are filed…“It’s not clear that lighting a match and dropping it in the public sphere is going to be a reliable way to bring closure,” said Jonathan Zittrain, a Harvard professor of Internet law who compared the practice to the old campus tactic of scrawling the names of alleged rapists on women’s bathroom walls.

Smells Like Cyberspace Spirit

An op-ed by Josephine Wolff, a Ph.D. candidate at MIT and a fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society:

oted nerdy songwriter and mathematician Tom Lehrer has written dozens of popular comedic scientific ditties, including that staple of high school chemistry classes: the periodic table of elements set to the tune of Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Major-General’s Song.” (You may also be familiar with “New Math” and “Who’s Next,” an ode to nuclear proliferation). Among his lesser works is a satirical homage to the former Atomic Energy Commission (“where the scenery’s attractive, and the air is radioactive”). But writing theme songs for secretive government agencies isn’t the exclusive domain of parodists, as we learned last week when the Cyberspace Administration of China released its earnest musical number, “Cyberspace Spirit.” According to the Wall Street Journal’s English translation of the Chinese lyrics, the administration’s well-rehearsed chorus, costumed in tuxedoes and matching red dresses and arranged in orderly rows at the center of a brightly lit stage, trumpets the “clarity and brightness” of the Chinese Internet as a “beam of incorruptible sunlight,” reminding listeners that “the Web is where glorious dreams are!” To reiterate: This is not a parody.

Q&A With Lani Guinier: Redefining The ‘Merit’ In Meritocracy

As a high school student, Lani Guinier wrote a letter to the College Board over a math question on the SAT that she found problematic. When she got to Harvard’s Radcliffe College, her roommate announced that she was worried about something: With her perfect SAT score she’d have trouble finding someone to marry. “Her bragging … and my nagging,” were two sparks of a lifelong interest in what Guinier calls “the testocracy.” Now a professor at Harvard Law School, she has written a book, The Tyranny of the Meritocracy, that calls for a rethinking of who gains admission to schools like Harvard. You talk in the book about the correlations between SAT scores and family incomes. But some people argue that the SAT is more meritocratic than the networks of influence that it replaced. Most of the students admitted to competitive colleges are not poor or working class. There may be a few but it’s very few.Part of the reason that upper middle and upper class students are more likely to get admitted is because they’re more likely to do well on the SAT.

An Interview with Kenneth W. Mack, Inaugural Lawrence D. Biele Professor of Law

Today’s interview is a guest post by Liah Love Caravalho, a program specialist in the Office of Legislative and External Relations of the Law Library of Congress. Below, Liah provides an interview with Kenneth W. Mack, inaugural Lawrence D. Biele Professor of Law at Harvard University. Prof. Mack was a speaker at the 2013 Library of Congress National Book Festival, where he discussed his book, Representing the Race: The Creation of the Civil Rights Lawyer. He is also the co-editor of The New Black: What Has Changed–and What Has Not–with Race in America. Please share your educational and academic background and specifically what made you decide that law was your true vocation?

I started my professional life as an electrical engineer, designing computer chips at Bell Laboratories in the late 1980s after my graduation from Drexel University. I went to law school because I wanted to try something different. I liked technology, but I didn’t feel as though it was my life’s passion. This was, of course, before the development of the World Wide Web, social media, bio-engineering and other fields that now make technology seem like the place to be. I thought that law was my true calling almost from the day I started Harvard Law School. We seemed to be grappling with problems of inequality, politics, economics, policy and history–although we were doing it using lawyers’ tools. It was one of the most exciting periods in my life, and it just seemed completely different than engineering.