Education Department agrees to cancel $6 billion in debt for some 200,000 student loan borrowers

The U.S. Department of Education has agreed to cancel the student loans of around 200,000 people who brought a class action lawsuit against the government, claiming they were stuck with federal debts from schools that were found to have misled them. Under the terms of the Sweet v. Cardona settlement, the Education Department will immediately approve around $6 billion in debt forgiveness. The 200,000 borrowers eligible for the relief will get full cancellation of their debt, refunds of amounts paid and repair to their credit. The plaintiffs brought their lawsuit against the Trump administration in 2019, representing around 264,000 class members who said their applications for loan cancellation were being ignored by the Education Department. (The suit name was later changed from Sweet v. DeVos to Sweet v. Cardona after current U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona replaced former Trump appointee Betsy DeVos.) “This momentous proposed settlement will deliver answers and certainty to borrowers who have fought long and hard for a fair resolution of their borrower defense claims after being cheated by their schools and ignored or even rejected by their government,” said Eileen Connor, director of the Project on Predatory Student Lending at Harvard Law School.

Biden braces for Supreme Court to overturn Roe after months of planning for next steps

President Joe Biden is bracing for a Supreme Court ruling that would strip away nationwide abortion rights in the US, potentially setting off mass protests and heaping pressure on the White House to act, according to officials, even as there remains little he can do through executive action to fully mitigate the anticipated decision. The nearing announcement — which is expected to come within the next two weeks as the Supreme Court concludes its term — will punctuate months of contingency planning at the White House and lobbying efforts by abortion rights advocates, who want Biden to take immediate action. … “I told the vice president I’m more worried about what I would call a sideswipe,” Harvard law professor Glenn Cohen said. “The idea that we’ll introduce language that’s really aimed at abortion but will end up implicating in vitro fertilization and create uncertainty.”

How Title IX transformed colleges, universities over past 50 years

A half century after its enactment, Title IX, the federal law that bars discrimination against women in education, has forced a leveling of the playing field on campus, though advocates say its work is still not done. In recent years, the law has forced a reckoning over sexual harassment and assault on campus, and its protections have been extended to cover bias on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. Those impacts follow on others, particularly in women’s sports, where the changes it forced have been described as “transformative.” The Gazette asked Jeannie Suk Gersen, the John H. Watson Jr. Professor of Law and an expert on gender and the law, and Susan Ware, A.M. ’73, Ph.D. ’78, historian and author of “Title IX: A Brief History With Documents” (2014) to discuss the legacy of the law. The two were interviewed separately for this piece, and both interviews were edited for clarity and length.

The Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict Goes to Court

An article by Anoush Baghdassarian (JD’22): In October 2021, the International Court of Justice, the principal judicial organ of the United Nations, heard from both Armenia and Azerbaijan in cases each brought against the other for alleged violations of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD). Armenia has accused Azerbaijan of violating the convention with its ongoing campaign of ethnic persecution and violence against Armenians, which has included arbitrary detention, torture, and murder. Azerbaijan has accused Armenia of ethnic cleansing in violation of the convention by refusing to provide Azerbaijan maps of land mines on its territory and allegedly continuing to plant land mines in the territory. The court heard arguments from the parties in mid October 2021 and issued notable rulings on Dec. 7, 2021, installing provisional measures to protect certain rights of both parties under the CERD.

Unilever has caved to the campaign to eliminate Israel

An article by Jesse Fried: Unilever, the parent company of Vermont-based Ben & Jerry’s, touts its commitment to its stakeholders – including employees, suppliers and customers. According to chief executive Alan Jope, “the best way to deliver steady, compounded value creation for shareholders is to serve the needs and interests of all of Unilever’s many stakeholders”. But, according to a lawsuit recently filed in New Jersey, Jope failed to heed his own advice in dealing with Ben & Jerry’s Israel licensee Avi Zinger. And now Unilever shareholders are paying for it. The story goes back to the late 1980s, when Zinger became Ben & Jerry’s Israel licensee. Over time, Zinger opened up over a dozen scoop shops and began distributing the ice-cream to supermarkets, hotels, and other businesses. Zinger employs hundreds of Arabs, Jews, and Sudanese refugees in Israel – the kinds of stakeholders Jope loves to talk about – to make and deliver the famous ice-cream, which is distributed throughout Israel and the Palestinian territories

The Supreme Court Has Just Eroded First Amendment Law

An op-ed by Noah Feldman: In an extremely important church-and-state decision, the Supreme Court has held that if the state of Maine decides to pay for a child’s private education in lieu of a public one, it must allow its tuition money to be used at religious schools. The 6-3 decision, Carson v. Makin, profoundly undermines existing First Amendment law. It represents the end of the centuries-old constitutional ban on direct state aid to the teaching of religion. And remarkably, it does all this in the name of religious liberty, giving the free-exercise clause of the First Amendment primacy over the establishment clause found in the exact same amendment. The framers’ conception of the two religion clauses of the First Amendment had two parts that fit together. The establishment clause meant the government couldn’t make you perform a religious act or spend taxpayer dollars on religion. The free exercise clause said the government couldn’t stop you from performing a religious act, understood as prayer or preaching or teaching or belief.

Prosecuting Trump: Being a jerk isn’t criminal

“SECVNDINVS CACOR.” When those words were found recently on an ancient stone in Northumberland, England, there was great excitement about what might be revealed about Roman life in the 3rd Century. As it turned out, the painstakingly chiseled words (which were accompanied by the image of a giant phallus) simply said that a guy named Secundinus was … well … human fecal matter. The stone was an impressive effort just to establish for all posterity that Secundinus was a jerk. The House Select Committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot is an equally impressive effort to painstakingly debunk election fraud claims and to show how former President Donald Trump refused to accept his electoral defeat. If the purpose were to proclaim “TRUMPUS CACOR,” it would likely get little argument, given the testimony about elected officials and election workers hiding out in their homes after being called out by name by the then-president. … On CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront,” Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe declared that Trump can now be charged with the attempted murder of former Vice President Mike Pence “without any doubt, beyond a reasonable doubt, beyond any doubt, and the crimes are obvious.” In addition to declaring that he is certain Attorney General Merrick Garland will now charge Trump, Tribe said: “There are other crimes that have been proven. Those are plenty to start with.”

A Debate Champion on How to Have More Productive Disagreements at Work

In an ideal world, professional conflicts are settled with thoughtful discussion and collaborative decision-making. But that’s not usually how it works. More typically, you see leaders – or the loudest voices – win out, leaving others resentful. And sometimes people don’t even try to hash out differences of opinion; they’d prefer to avoid a fight. Bo Seo [JD ’24], two-time world champion debater, says we can learn to disagree in healthier, more effective ways that ultimately generate better outcomes for teams, customers, and shareholders. Seo is also the author of the book Good Arguments: How Debate Teaches us to Listen and Be Heard.

The power of twelve

FT Alphaville loves Charlie Munger, the famously irascible billionaire vice-chair of Berkshire Hathaway. Earlier this year Charlie turned his ire towards a phenomenon his partner Warren Buffett has frequently praised. “We have a new bunch of emperors, and they’re the people who vote the shares in the index funds,” Munger said at the annual meeting of Daily Journal Corp in February. “I think the world of Larry Fink, but I’m not sure I want him to be my emperor.” … That was the provocative argument of John Coates, a professor at Harvard Law School, in an incendiary 2018 paper titled The Problem of Twelve. “Unless law changes, the effect of indexation will be to turn the concept of ‘passive’ investing on its head and produce the greatest concentration of economic control in our lifetimes . . . More fundamentally, the rise of indexing presents a sharp, general, political challenge to corporate law. The prospect of twelve people even potentially controlling most of the economy poses a legitimacy and accountability issue of the first order.”

Prosecute Trump? Put Yourself in Merrick Garland’s Shoes.

An op-ed by Jack Goldsmith: The evidence gathered by the Jan. 6 committee and in some of the federal cases against those involved in the Capitol attack pose for Attorney General Merrick Garland one of the most consequential questions that any attorney general has ever faced: Should the United States indict former President Donald Trump? The basic allegations against Mr. Trump are well known. In disregard of advice by many of his closest aides, including Attorney General William Barr, he falsely claimed that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent and stolen; he pressured Vice President Mike Pence to refuse to count certified electoral votes for Joe Biden during the electoral count in Congress on Jan. 6; and he riled up a mob, directed it to the Capitol and refused for a time to take steps to stop the ensuing violence.