Why Pick on BNP Paribas?

An op-ed by Mark Roe. To Europeans with whom I speak, the $8.9 billion fine imposed on the French financial-services company BNP Paribas for violating American sanctions against Cuba, Iran, and Sudan seems excessive. Yes, BNP did something seriously wrong. But $8.9 billion? Isn’t that extremely disproportionate for an otherwise highly responsible bank? French President François Hollande asked US President Barack Obama to intervene to have the fine reduced, as did the European Union’s commissioner for the internal market and services, Michel Barnier…Three factors, not all of which are being discussed, seem to explain the size of the penalty.

The seeds of Iraq’s failed democracy were sown early on (audio)

The deteriorating situation in Iraq has the international community scrambling for some way to avoid all-out sectarian warfare…Noah Feldman, professor at Harvard Law School, served as the senior constitutional adviser to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq immediately after the war. He helped to draft Iraq’s interim constitution, which provided for the election of a National Assembly, included a bill of rights and outlined a separation between religion and state. At the time, Feldman and the Bush administration were criticized for excluding Arab, Iraqi, and Muslim legal experts from the process. But today’s chaos, Feldman says, is a direct result of the administration’s inability to see security and nation building as two distinctly difference processes.

In new age of wealth and inequality, calls for intervention go unheeded

An op-ed by Richard D. Brown and Bruce H. Mann. Thomas Piketty, writing from France, is the latest person to sound an alarm about the growing inequality of income and wealth. But his ideas have distinctly American roots that date to the country’s formation…Today, however, as Americans arrive at the brink of a new Gilded Age of wealth and inequality, calls for intervention are going unheeded. Wages have stagnated. Executive compensation has ballooned from about 20 times the average wage income to nearly 300 times…The economic, social and political consequences of these changes are profound

Gays Have Rights, the Pill Doesn’t

An op-ed by Noah Feldman. The U.S. Supreme Court says closely held religious corporations get a religious exemption from providing contraceptive insurance. Should President Barack Obama follow the court’s lead and exempt religious affiliates from an executive order requiring federal contractors not to discriminate against gay people? The answer is no — not because the court was wrong, and not because the religious affiliates aren’t sincere. The reason is that the contraceptive case and the question of federal contractors respecting gay rights are fundamentally different. One case is about a right against government coercion; the other is about the privilege of getting a federal contract. And while contraceptive insurance is nice, it isn’t a constitutional value — anti-discrimination is.

Boehner v. Constitution

An op-ed by Cass R. Sunstein. One of the most appealing features of modern conservative thought is its insistence on fidelity to the Constitution. Whether or not we endorse “strict construction,” or the claim that the Constitution means what it originally meant, it is certainly honorable to emphasize that public officials are bound by our founding document. How odd, then, that prominent conservatives have been embracing Speaker John Boehner’s proposed lawsuit by the House of Representatives against President Barack Obama — an idea that reflects a stunningly cavalier approach to the Constitution.

Let Public Officials Work in Private

An op-ed by Cass R. Sunstein. Senators Patrick Leahy of Vermont and John Cornyn of Texas, leaders of the Judiciary Committee, have long shown an admirable commitment to open government, and their recent bill to amend the Freedom of Information Act is winning a ton of praise. Some of its reforms make sense, but, unfortunately, its key provision is a horrible idea. By reducing the protection now given to deliberations within the executive branch, it would have a chilling effect on those discussions.

The Legal And Ethical Concerns That Arise From Using Complex Predictive Analytics In Health Care

By I. Glenn Cohen, Ruben Amarasingham, Anand Shah, Bin Xie and Bernard Lo. Predictive analytics, or the use of electronic algorithms to forecast future events in real time, makes it possible to harness the power of big data to improve the health of patients and lower the cost of health care. However, this opportunity raises policy, ethical, and legal challenges.

U.S. Companies Step Up Business Conducted in Yuan

American companies are conducting a record amount of business in Chinese yuan, looking to benefit from cost advantages over dollar transactions…”If China in the long run is interested in having the renminbi challenge the dollar as a reserve currency, given the size of the U.S. economy, U.S. firms will have to get on board,” said Mark Wu, a former World Bank economist who teaches at Harvard Law School.

Pope Francis names new head of scandal-plagued Vatican bank

The Vatican named a new head and board for its scandal-plagued bank Wednesday, capping a cleanup campaign overseen by Pope Francis that has seen hundreds of suspect accounts shut down. French financier Jean-Baptiste de Franssu, who called his new job “a mission,” will oversee a two-year program to cede the bank’s asset-management business to a newly formed Vatican department, leaving the institution handling only payment services for priests and religious organizations…The new six-person board of lay experts appointed Wednesday to work with De Franssu includes Mary Ann Glendon, a Harvard law professor and former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican.