BY CHRIS SZABLA
Another week of Barack Obama ’91’s presidency has brought more culling of the already hollowed-out Harvard Law School faculty. The departures of Dean Elena Kagan ’86 and Professor Cass Sunstein ’78, appointed Solicitor General and regulatory czar, respectively, have been followed by those of David Barron ’94, Daniel Meltzer ’75, and Jody Freeman LLM ’91 SJD ’95. Barron has been appointed Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Council; Meltzer will serve as Principal Deputy Counsel to the President. Freeman was named the White House’s Counselor for Energy and Climate Change.
Barron, a popular professor who is an expert on administrative law, the separation of powers, and local government law, served as an attorney advisor to the OLC prior to 1999, when he joined the HLS faculty. He has recently written about executive authority in war and testified before Congress on war powers.
Melzter, who earned the Fay Diploma as the top of his class upon graduating from the law school, specializes in federal courts and criminal procedure, has served Harvard Law as Associate Dean, from 1989 to 1993. He joined the faculty in 1982 and gained tenure in 1987. In 1988 he was appointed Story Professor of Law, and served as Vice Dean for Physical Planning in 2003. His scholarship might indicate the legal course he plans to take the new administration; he authored an article last year on the constitutional rights of detainees held in the course of the war on terror.
Freeman is known as one of the U.S.’ foremost scholars of administrative and environmental law, and founded the program on environmental law at HLS. In her position at the White House, she will serve as an advisor to climate czar Carol Browner.
With a total of five professors now departing the law school’s faculty, HLS administrators appeared to be scrambling to fill vacant faculty posts as professors with portfolios waiting in Washington have abandoned spring semester courses. Sunstein’s class on environmental law and regulation will be taught by a visiting professor, according to one student who enrolled specifically to take a class with Sunstein. The focus of the class has also shifted away from the regulatory theories that have made Sunstein famous and toward basic environmental law, according to the student, and the class’ meeting time has been reduced to once a week.
Freeman’s departure appears to have further weakened HLS’ environmental law curriculum, which the school has been trying to build up in recent years.