Portraits of Black Harvard Law Professors Vandalized, Covered in Black Tape

Editor’s Note: This is a developing story and will be updated as more information comes in.

Sometime during the early hours of Thursday morning, portraits of black Harvard Law professors hanging in the faculty gallery in Wasserstein Hall were defaced by an unknown individual. Black strips of tape were placed across the faces of the portraits. The vandalism was discovered by students arriving for morning classes. “This is a hate crime,” one student said. “I’m calling the police.”

The pieces of tape were removed shortly after the police completed their examination of the scene.

This incident comes one day after a number of Harvard students held walk-outs and protests in solidarity with student movements at Yale, the University of Missouri, and other universities, calling for policies that foster greater racial inclusivity and awareness on college campuses.

Members of Harvard Law School’s “Royall Must Fall” movement also recently staged an “educational art action” to promote their campaign to change the Harvard Law School crest, which bears the family insignia of 18th-century slave trader Isaac Royall. This protest consisted of placing black tape in an X formation over the Royall insignia on several images of the crest on the law school campus. Members of Royall Must Fall have stated that they are “saddened and disgusted by this violent act against black professors,” and they believe tape used in the educational art action was subsequently used to deface the portraits.
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Harvard Law Professors & Scholars: State Governors Have No Legal Authority To Block Refugees

In the wake of the Paris terrorist attacks, more than half the nation’s states are vowing to bar Syrian refugees. But do they have the legal authority to do so? Harvard Law professors say the answer is clear: No.

“States do not have the legal authority to deny refugees entry,” said Phil Torrey, a Lecturer on Law with the Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program and the Supervising Attorney for the Harvard Immigration Project. “Immigration laws are the sole purview of the federal government.”

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Hamilton Takes Harvard

Ever wonder what Harvard professors sing in the shower? These days, there’s a good chance it’s a song from the musical Hamilton.

“I’m a huge fan of the music,” says Glenn Cohen, law professor and director of the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy. “I often sing it in the shower. As a Canadian, much of the American history I’ve learned is what’s directly relevant to constitutional law, so I really appreciate learning more about the personalities involved.” Continue reading “Hamilton Takes Harvard”

19 Harvard Law Professors Defend Law Student Brandon Winston, Denouncing His Portrayal in “The Hunting Ground”

19 Harvard Law professors recently defended current law student Brandon Winston in a press release. You may read a response to the professors’ press release here.


Re: The Hunting Ground (Nov. 11, 2015)

From: Elizabeth Bartholet, Scott Brewer, Charles Donahue, Jr., Nancy Gertner, Janet Halley, Bruce L. Hay, Philip B. Heymann, David W. Kennedy, Duncan M. Kennedy, Randall L. Kennedy, Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., Richard D. Parker, J. Mark Ramseyer, David Rosenberg, Lewis D. Sargentich, David L. Shapiro, Henry J. Steiner, Jeannie C. Suk, Laurence H. Tribe

This purported documentary provides a seriously false picture both of the general sexual
assault phenomenon at universities and of our student Brandon Winston. For an investigative journalist’s in-depth story demonstrating the biased, one-sided nature of the film and its unfair portrayal of Mr. Winston, see Emily Yoffe, “How The Hunting Ground Blurs the Truth.”

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Swastika Drawn on Harvard Law Classroom Desk

Last Thursday, November 5, a first-year Harvard Law student noticed a swastika penned in a desk in Wasserstein room 2004 during class. After another student submitted a picture of the swastika to the Dean of Students Office, cleaning staff was sent to remove the mark from the desk.

The person who drew the mark has not yet been identified. Rooms in Wasserstein are generally open during business hours, and it is quite possible that a non-HLS affiliated person made the mark. Several HLS classes were scheduled to meet in WCC 2004 during the days leading up to the discovery, along with a few events hosted by student organizations. HLS events are open to the public and frequently attended by people who do not work at or attend the Law School.

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“Slave-Owning, Slave-Trading Murderers”: Students Call on Harvard Law School to Address Historical Ties to Slavery

You won’t go far at Harvard Law School without running into the Royalls.

In the Treasure Room of Langdell Library hangs a large portrait of the family of Isaac Royall, Jr. Each year, first-year Harvard Law School students sit together beneath this painting as they enjoy a welcome meal with the Dean. Isaac Royall is a figure intimately associated with the origins of Harvard Law School: in 1779, he donated lands to Harvard College whose sale endowed its first professorship of law. The Royall Professorship of Law is still held by a HLS faculty member, and the Royall family crest, bearing three sheaves of wheat, is currently part of the Harvard Law School crest. But the wealth that created Harvard Law School has a disturbing origin. The Royall family fortune was acquired through slavery: their sugar plantation was worked by slave labor, and they augmented their profits by shipping and selling human beings between Boston and Antigua.

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Justice Kennedy Comes to Campus

On October 23, Justice Anthony Kennedy sat down with Dean Martha Minow for a discussion on his experiences as a Supreme Court Justice, law professor, and practicing attorney. The conversation touched on topics ranging from corrections to campaign finance to his Supreme Court legacy.

Kennedy thanked the dean for not using the term “swing vote” in her introduction. “It conjures a mental image of these—spatial gyrations,” said Kennedy. “Cases swing—I don’t!” Continue reading “Justice Kennedy Comes to Campus”

“Don’t Look Away”: Harvard Law School Hosts Images of Syrian Torture Victims

This week, a small room in the Lewis International Law Center is hosting a collection of thirty images taken in a military hospital in Damascus. Hung on the walls and mounted on easels, the images show corpses of Syrians with black bars superimposed across their eyes. They are men and women of all ages, including the very old and the very young: some naked, some emaciated, some horrifically mutilated, all bearing on their bodies, limbs, and faces unmistakable marks of torture.

These thirty images are but a small fraction of a staggering 55,000 that were smuggled out of Syria last year by an anonymous informant, codenamed “Caesar,” who worked as a forensic photographer for the Assad regime’s police force. They represent, according to Stephen J. Rapp, former Ambassador-at-Large for War Crimes Issues, “the most impressive and strongest evidence” for systematic torture committed by the Assad regime between 2011 and 2013. Continue reading ““Don’t Look Away”: Harvard Law School Hosts Images of Syrian Torture Victims”

Pope Francis and the Rhetoric of Rights

On October 16, members of the Catholic Law Students Association and Advocates for Human Rights came together for a talk about Pope Francis and human rights. The discussion was led by law and history professor Samuel Moyn, the author of a recent Washington Post article with the eye-catching title “Pope Francis has given up on human rights. That’s a good thing.”

“I did write the article, but I didn’t write that title!” Professor Moyn protested at the start of the talk. “I would have called it ‘Pope Francis is de-prioritizing talking about human rights, and that might be a good thing—maybe.’” Continue reading “Pope Francis and the Rhetoric of Rights”