Letter to the Editor: The Destruction of the Constitutional Right of “Freedom of Association” at Harvard University

Recently, the administration leadership at Harvard University has proposed a ban on fraternities, sororities, and “finals clubs”, as well as other organizations. The ban would apply to students who attend university at Harvard. As a graduate of Harvard Law School, I view this as misguided policy. The Constitution of the United States guarantees “freedom of association”.

In my opinion, if this ban goes into effect, members of these clubs simply have to sue Harvard University, in federal court, for violating their constitutional rights. The University will lose these lawsuits, but why make everyone go through that misery? To have a committee of administrators decide which private organizations students can belong to, and which they cannot belong to, is not only a clear violation of the student’s constitutional rights, it is overbearing, downright parental, overly paternalistic, and frightens this freedom-loving citizen.

Let the students make their own decisions, and let the students make their own mistakes. Accountability, legal and otherwise, should always be on an individual basis, not a form of collective punishment, and clearly never a form of collective banishment.

Perhaps the leadership of Harvard University could spend their time better by sitting around a bong, and smoking copious amounts of marijuana, and eating mountains of pop tarts. Then in their heads, they can dream of the dictatorship that they so clearly want to impose on the powerless students of the University. “Hey teachers, leave those kids alone!”

Sincerely,

Charles Facktor
Harvard Law School Class of 1990

“All Rise!”, Episode 11: Carol Steiker

The Harvard Law Record’s podcast — All Rise! — has just released its eleventh episode: an interview with Harvard Law professor Carol Steiker.

Carol Steiker is the leading national expert on the death penalty and one half of perhaps the most influential brother-sister team in the law today. She joined All Rise! in the spring to discuss growing up in a family of lawyers, beating Elena Kagan out to be president of the Harvard Law Review, clerking for Thurgood Marshall, and fighting for the abolition of the death penalty.

All Rise! is a longform interview podcast in which Harvard Law 2Ls Brady Bender and Pete Davis interview members of the Harvard community. You can subscribe to All Rise! on iTunes here and listen to this week’s episode below:

“All Rise!”, Episode 10: Khiara Bridges

The Harvard Law Record’s podcast — All Rise! — has just released its tenth episode: an interview with Harvard Law visiting professor Khiara Brdiges.

Bridges is a force in Critical Race Theory scholarship, a Professor of Law and Anthropology at Boston University, an accomplished ballerina, and, according to the Boston Globe, one of Boston’s most fashionable people. She joined All Rise! in the spring to talk about: growing up in Miami, the importance of Spelman college, finding out about 9/11 during a Columbia tax law course, the insights of legal anthropology, and how she hopes to build on the legacy of her critical race theory mentors.

All Rise! is a longform interview podcast in which Harvard Law 2Ls Brady Bender and Pete Davis interview members of the Harvard community. You can subscribe to All Rise! on iTunes here and listen to this week’s episode below:

Indulge Us: Take the Summer Pledge

The Record recently published a thoughtful piece arguing that the Public Interest Pledge is “no more than a symbolic gesture of penance for Harvard students who feel guilty about not doing enough.” Although we disagree with this characterization of the Pledge, we take the author’s moral licensing argument seriously, which is why we write here to defend the Pledge both as an end in itself and as a catalyst for increased and more effective charitable giving at HLS.

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“All Rise!”, Episode 9: Max Kenner & Vince Greco

The Harvard Law Record’s podcast — All Rise! — has just released its ninth episode (and fourth episode of its second season): an interview with prison reform advocates Max Kenner and Vince Greco.

Max Kenner is the founder and Executive Director of the Bard Prison Initiative, one of the leading programs providing college educations — and college degrees — to incarcerated Americans. He started the program while an undergraduate at Bard College and has overseen its growth over the past 16 years into a world-renowned program, copied at multiple colleges and featured in Bill Clinton’s book Giving.

Vince Greco is one of the leading formerly incarcerated prison reform advocates in Maryland. He is member of the Maryland Alliance for Justice Reform and Out for Justice. He is a beneficiary of prison education and during his three decade incarceration was a leader on the inside in expanding college programs to Maryland prisons.

Kenner and Greco joined All Rise! in March to discuss the first encounters with prison education, the philosophy behind their prison education work and their hopes for the future of prison education.

All Rise! is a longform interview podcast in which Harvard Law 2Ls Brady Bender and Pete Davis interview members of the Harvard community. You can subscribe to All Rise! on iTunes here and listen to this week’s episode below:

Indulgences for the Trump Era: The Public Interest Pledge

At the height of the Catholic Church’s power in the late Middle Ages, parishioners could pay the church fees to reduce the amount of time their souls would suffer in Purgatory before entering Heaven. This practice of paying “indulgences,” as such fees were called, was one of the principal targets of Martin Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses, and the practice has been a symbol of the medieval Catholic Church’s corruption ever since.

With EIP around the corner, and with 80 percent of Harvard Law students likely to participate in its orgy of cocktail mixers and free lunches, it’s a good time to reflect on HLS’s preferred means of moral salvation for those of us who feel guilty about settling for BigLaw: the Public Interest Pledge.

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At the Harvard Law Forum: Heather McGhee on Moving Beyond Resistance

Demos President Heather McGhee is a national leader in the fight for working families. Demos is a public policy organization working for an America where “we all have an equal say in our democracy and an equal chance in our economy.” McGhee’s opinions, writing and research have appeared in The New York Times, The Nation, The Hill, Meet the Press, among other publications. She is one of The Root’s 23 Black Political Pundits You Should Know and one of Grist’s 50 People You’ll Be Talking about in 2016.

On April 10, 2017, she came to the Harvard Law Forum to show how students can help progressive organizations earn and deserve the trust of the majority of Americans who reject Trumpism by moving beyond resistance and towards helping restore working families to power. The video is below:

At the Harvard Law Forum: Max Kenner and Vince Greco on Fighting for Prison Education

In 1999, as a college student at Bard, Max Kenner founded and developed the Bard Prison Initiative, which has become the premier program for providing incarcerated Americans with full college educations, associate’s and bachelor’s degrees.

Vince Greco is one of the leading formerly incarcerated prison reform advocates in Maryland. He is member of the Maryland Alliance for Justice Reform and Out for Justice. He is a beneficiary of prison education and during his three decade incarceration was a leader on the inside in expanding college programs to Maryland prisons.

On March 30, 2017, Kenner and Greco came to Harvard to remind students of the imperative of fighting for educational opportunity for incarcerated people, describe other innovative ways organizations like BPI are creating extraordinary college opportunity in unusual circumstances, and to show Harvard students how they, too, can open up the resources of our university to incarcerated neighbors. Their videos are below:

At the Harvard Law Forum: Elizabeth and Matt Bruenig on “Building a Moral Economy”

Elizabeth Bruenig and Matt Bruenig are considered by some to be the moral politics dream team of the Millennial generation. Elizabeth is an assistant editor at the Washington Post, whose writing focuses on ethics, politics, and culture from a Catholic social justice perspective. Matt is an incisive poverty analyst and Twitter sage who has written for Jacobin, Demos, The Atlantic, Dissent and The Washington Post.

They came to the Harvard Law Forum on April 5 to give a one-two punch of moral vision and economic analysis to wake up Harvard Law students to the imperative of working towards a moral economy. The video is below:

Gender Disparities at HLS: Still Room for Improvement

In the spring semester, 1L students are invited to apply for the three two-year student organizations on campus. Membership to the Harvard Law Review, Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, and the Board of Student Advisers is highly selective and the organizations are frequently viewed as “honor societies” within the HLS community, making them one approximate measure of normative law school success. The Shatter the Ceiling Committee of the Women’s Law Association conducted its annual analysis of gender representation in each of these organizations to see if male and female students are gaining membership to these organizations at equal rates.

Of the three groups examined, only the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau (HLAB) had statistically significant deviations from the expected gender breakdown, based on the total number of male and female students in the classes of 2017 and 2018. Like last year,[1] HLAB continues to have statistically significantly more female members compared to the overall demographics of the classes of 2017 and 2018 (c2 = 6.352, P = 0.012). There was no statistically significant difference in the gender makeup of the Board of Student Advisers (c2 = 0.483, P = 0.487) or Harvard Law Review (HLR) (c2 = 2.343, P = 0.126).

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In Jesus Loves Obamacare, an Accounting of How Biblical Instruction Leads to Liberal Policies

By the time the Republican-dominated Congress and executive branch had begun preparations to dismantle the Affordable Care Act in January 2017, the stage had already been set for this watershed moment of backlash in American political life.

The cradle-to-grave medical safety net that the late Sen. Edward Kennedy had called “the cause of my life,” known as Obamacare, signified more than the expansion of accessible healthcare for millions. The legislation, in force for several years and perhaps more consequential on individual livelihoods than any other public policy since Social Security, had embodied a primary objective of American liberalism since the nascent days of the modern Democratic party unfolded under the leadership of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

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HLS Owes Applicants, New Admits Data on Sexual Assault

As Harvard Law School gears up to welcome a new class of students to campus this fall, we urge the administration to evaluate and disclose how it deals with the admission of students investigated or found responsible for, sexual misconduct at their previous college or university. We seek transparency on this issue so the university can engage in productive dialogue with students and administrators on how best to protect its students from sexual assault and discrimination. This information is particularly critical in light of the 2015 campus climate survey, which found that 7.6% of female graduate students experience sexual assault while attending Harvard University.

Students in the Harvard Law Gender Violence Legal Policy Workshop submitted a questionnaire to the Admissions Office[1] seeking answers to questions of critical importance to the student community. As of the publication of this piece, we have not yet received a response. Transparency surrounding this information is important to current students’ safety and to prospective or admitted students considering attending Harvard Law School. Campus climate is a serious consideration in weighing whether or not to attend, or apply to, Harvard Law.

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Turkey’s Referendum: A Suspicious “Yes”

Having seen five elections since March 2014, voters in Turkey know the drill: if he wins, President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan delivers a “balcony speech” gloating his success. If he loses, like he did on June 7, 2015, he goes into hiding (to be honest, it was a blissful five days).

However, after the referendum on Sunday, during which citizens of Turkey voted whether to legitimize President Erdogan’s de facto dictatorship, an unusual scene was taking place: Although the Prime Minister Binali Yildirim (whose position will be abolished with this constitutional amendment) was (ironically) delivering a victory speech, President Erdogan was photographed looking remarkably worried.

Erdogan’s expression said a lot: the ‘yes’ vote was reported to win with a 51.4% margin, but he didn’t feel like he succeeded. Erdogan had lost Istanbul and Ankara (which he had never lost until now), and the opposition was stronger than ever.

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“All Rise!”, Episode 8: Tracey-Ann Daley

The Harvard Law Record’s podcast — All Rise! — has just released its eighth episode (and third episode of its second season): an interview with Harvard Law School Student Activities Coordinator, Tracey-Ann Daley. From the Federalist Society to the wine club, Daley is the go-to person keeping the crazy civic life of Harvard Law from falling apart. She joined All Rise! in January to discuss her childhood in Jamaica and Connecticut, her career path from Jamaican law firms to MIT gyms to HLS students services, and the work of the Dean of Students office in staying positive, handling controversy and building up the campus community.
All Rise! is a longform interview podcast in which Harvard Law 2Ls Brady Bender and Pete Davis interview members of the Harvard community. You can subscribe to All Rise! on iTunes here and listen to this week’s episode below:

The Shatter Awards Celebrate Inclusive Professors

The annual Shatter Awards will take place on April 19th at 7 P.M. in Hark South, with a reception to follow. Everyone is welcome to attend.

The Shatter the Ceiling Committee hopes to recognize inclusive dialogue in the classroom, lectures that address social justice issues, providing mentorship to students from all walks of life, and accessibility through presenting these awards to professors who have demonstrated these qualities to many students, who subsequently voted for them.

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