Alabama’s Abortion Ban Has A Clear Target: Roe v. Wade

Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey (R) approved a near-total abortion ban on Wednesday aimed at the United States Supreme Court and designed to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision establishing a woman’s right to an abortion under the U.S. Constitution. Roe v. Wade makes it clear that women have a right to abortion guaranteed by the 14th Amendment, but the Alabama measure almost universally prohibits abortions. Doctors who perform an abortion are to be subject to at least 10 and as many as 99 years in prison. The only exception in the legislation is if a pregnancy puts a woman’s life at risk. …But Laurence Tribe, a law professor at Harvard, doubts the Supreme Court will even take the case if the 11th Circuit upholds a ruling from the district court blocking the law.  “This clumsy gambit will be a total flop,” he wrote in an email.

You Don’t Want to Be a Human Guinea Pig? That’s Unfortunate

An op-ed by Cass Sunstein; Human beings really don’t like to be guinea pigs. Many people are inclined to rebel if they learn that they are in some kind of experiment. For private companies and for governments, that’s a big problem. Randomized experiments, often known as “A/B tests,” are the best way for private companies and public officials to learn what they should be doing if they want to save money and even lives.

US, China trade conflict was 20 years in the making

The U.S.-China trade blowup was a long time coming. And it won’t be easily resolved, not even if U.S. and Chinese negotiators reach a truce in the next few weeks that reassures jittery financial markets. Tensions between the world’s two biggest economies intensified over the last week. The Trump administration more than doubled tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports and spelled out plans to target the $300 billion worth that aren’t already facing 25% taxes. The escalation covers everything from sneakers to toasters to billiard balls. …Critics now say the Geneva-based WTO, which sets trade rules and mediates disputes, was ill-equipped to handle China’s unorthodox blend of capitalism and state control. In the Chinese system, it is tough to tell whether a company is seeking profits in the conventional way or is acting with the support and on behalf of the government to achieve China’s strategic goals. The U.S., for example, says that the telecommunications equipment supplied by China’s Huawei can be used to spy on foreign countries. “China’s economy is fundamentally different— even unique,” Mark Wu of Harvard Law School wrote in an influential 2016 paper. “The WTO rules, as written, are not fully equipped to handle the range of economic problems associated with China’s rise.”

Attorneys general ask for veto of Iowa AG power-limits bill

Current and former attorneys general from both major parties and several states are imploring Iowa’s Republican governor to veto a measure meant to prevent the state’s attorney general, currently a Democrat, from being able to file or join lawsuits challenging Trump administration policies. Iowa would be the only state with such limits on the power of an independently elected attorney general if Gov. Kim Reynolds signs off on the bill, which would require the attorney general to get the permission of the governor, Legislature or state executive council, which includes the governor and other statewide elected officials, to file any out-of-state court action. “There is no question that Iowa would be the only state that has done this to itself, and that the only losers are the people of Iowa,” said Jim Tierney, a Harvard Law School lecturer who served as Maine attorney general from 1980 to 1990.

Police violence against civilians 30 years after Graham v. Connor

An op-ed by Michael Banerjee: On March 25, Wende Kerl, a white police officer, shot and killed Danquirs Franklin, a black civilian, in the parking lot of a Burger King in west Charlotte.  Kerl ordered Franklin to drop his gun, and killed Franklin when he attempted to do just that, based on body camera footage reluctantly released by the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department. This killing by police—one of hundreds that have taken place across the country in 2019 alone—was wholly avoidable, and is part of a sordid history of police violence against black people in the U.S. Why is it that police officers get to decide who lives and who dies in Charlotte and elsewhere? Why is it legal for police officers to kill just about anyone they choose? To begin to answer these questions, we must travel back in time exactly 30 years, to May 15, 1989, when the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in Graham v. Connor.  However, in order to understand that decision, we must first go back to Nov. 12, 1984 to a house on Mayfair Avenue in Charlotte, not more than a 10-minute drive from the Burger King at which Kerl took Franklin’s life.

Will the courts stop the insanity?

President Trump is using the Justice Department in unprecedented, partisan ways and asserting ludicrously aggressive and unprecedented claims of executive power. The question is whether — in some cases, at least — the courts will stop him. … “Consovoy’s arguments on behalf of Trump, seeking to block private entities from turning over documents and information needed by Congress to perform its Article I functions, are so preposterous that Judge Mehta had no choice but to resist them,” constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe told me. “For the district court to accept those arguments would be astonishing — an unthinkable loss for the separation of powers. For the district court to reject those Trump arguments, as I expect it to do, will be an unsurprising win — a big victory but too predictable to count as a game-changer.” By making an argument that virtually writes Congress out of the equation, Trump’s lawyers may have set him up for a rude awakening on the subject of separation of powers. As Tribe put it, “It’ll be a self-inflicted wound suffered by Team Trump.”

Way more CEOs are Republicans than Democrats. Here’s the proof

Executives of America’s large public companies have long played a role in public policy by advising leaders of both parties — but those corporate chieftains themselves are far more likely to be Republicans than Democrats, a new study shows. In a working paper released this month by the National Bureau of Economic Research, researchers at Harvard Law School and Tel Aviv University ran the names of all individuals to have run a company listed in the S&P 1500 between 2000 and 2017 through federal campaign finance databases, which include contributions to both congressional and presidential candidates as well as party committees. The result: 18.6% of CEOs consistently donated to Democrats, while 57.7% donated to Republicans, with the rest leaning toward neither party.

Harvard Betrays a Law Professor — and Itself

An op-ed by Randall Kennedy: I have been a professor at Harvard University for 34 years. In that time, the school has made some mistakes. But it has never so thoroughly embarrassed itself as it did this past weekend. At the center of the controversy is Ronald Sullivan, a law professor who ran afoul of student activists enraged that he was willing to represent Harvey Weinstein. Mr. Sullivan is my friend and colleague. He is the director of the Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard Law School and the architect of a conviction-review program in Brooklyn that has freed a score of improperly convicted individuals. He is also a sought-after lawyer who has represented plaintiffs (including the family of Michael Brown, whose death at the hands of a police officer fueled the Black Lives Matter movement) as well as defendants (including Rose McGowan, the actress who faced drug charges and is, ironically, one of Mr. Weinstein’s accusers).

Opaque Trade Groups May Need To Name Names In Court

A key utility industry advocacy group represented by Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP has disbanded in the face of Congressional scrutiny over the identity of its members, and similar groups that rely on anonymity are getting pressure from some courts about whether they have standing to fight energy and environmental regulatory actions. The Utility Air Regulatory Group — which for four decades lobbied and litigated on federal air pollution issues on behalf of utility companies who largely kept their names under wraps — disbanded on Friday. It is one of scores of similar ad hoc groups — with opaque membership rolls unlike traditional trade associations — that have played leading roles in challenging federal energy and environmental rules. …“Judge Pillard’s apparent invocation of the kind of tougher Article III standards often promoted by business interests to seek to persuade courts to deny environmentalists Article III standing is, to say the least, ironic,” Harvard Law School environmental law professor Richard Lazarus said. “If Judge Pillard’s suggestion at argument ends up having judicial legs, it may well prompt a healthy reform of the practice of organizations like UARG that for too long have declined to reveal their members.”

Economists conducted a $5 million experiment to (literally) shed light on crime

For years, New York City public housing residents had requested more streetlights. In 2016, they arrived — in the form of portable, diesel-powered flood lights that blast 600,000 lumens into the night sky. For comparison, a bright indoor lamp might put out 1,600 lumens. The mobile light towers weren’t permanent. They were part of a six-month, $5 million experiment initiated by the office of Mayor Bill De Blasio in partnership with the housing authority, the police department and researchers at the Crime Lab at the University of Chicago. …It’s typical of the city’s heavy-handed approach that their response to lighting complaints from public housing residents was to install floodlights which many associate with the police department, said Katy Naples-Mitchell, a fellow at the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School. “I would imagine the people who are calling 311 asking for improved lighting may be frustrated with the remedy of floodlights operating from sundown to sunrise in their neighborhood,” Naples-Mitchell said.