Fein, Nader Speak at Forum, Criticize Obama, Legal Profession

Fein and Nader
Fein and Nader

Bruce Fein, ’72, and Ralph Nader, ’58, spoke Wednesday at noon at this year’s Forum entitled “America’s Lawless Empire: The Constitutional Crimes of Bush and Obama.”

In his address, Nader called for law students to act to protect the Constitution. “You speak with moral authority to working lawyers and faculty and judges,” he said to attending law students, “You may not know that. But when, in the past, law students put up petitions and proclamations, the rest of the profession knew that those were heartfelt expressions of idealism. They knew that the law students did not have a commericial retainer to motivate them. They knew the law students did not have an axe to grind. And that’s why they knew the law students had moral authority. And you can communicate with tens of thousands of law students, free, over the Internet, which we did not have. And you can mount a movement to restore constitutional practices and the greatest idea of Western civilization, which is due process. Go for it.”

Fein and Nader both criticized President Barak Obama for signing the National Defense Authorization Act. “We are living under a national security state,” Fein said, “All of our rights are at the whim of the President.”

Fein speaking
Fein speaking

Nader echoed that sentiment in his address. “We are two major terrorist strikes away from a police state, the likes of which we will never be able to imagine,” he said.

“It is not an option in a democracy to be a spectator,” Fein said, calling for attendees to act to repeal NDAA, “We have a moral obligation to use our eyes and ears to be a check on the government.”

Nader remarked on the greater number of 1Ls than upperclassmen in attendance at the event, saying that law students enter law school “idealistic, [they] actually think the law has some connection with the word ‘justice’…but by the time [they’re] finished… [they] are heading into these corporate law firms, who are… geniuses at facilitating the subjugation of the law by raw corporate power, all in the name of the law.”
Nader was also highly critical of Obama:”There are well over 300,000 Americans who die from preventable causes and certainly should reside under the definition of national security that aren’t even part of a single dialogue in any political campaign of the major parties. They are not the preoccupation of Barack Obama, who has spent more time figuring out how to kill a suspected terrorist overseas in his briefings every morning than he has spent on all of these preventable American deaths.”
He called for law students to be more active. “You’re behaving as if Harvard Law Schol is a trade school, high price, high fullutent. The difference between a profession and a trade is that a profession is adminstiered to prevent exactly the problem that it is skilled to treat for a retainer…Lawyers should be preventing conflict.” Nader also read from George Washington Law Professor Jonathan Turley’s article, “Ten Reasons We’re No Longer the Land of the Free.” 
Nader and Fein answering questions
Event attendee
Fein answering question from an attendee

America’s Lawless Empire

Among my indelible memories of the Law School in the “conforming Fifties” were two events. One was an address by Robert Hutchins (Dean of Yale Law School at age 29, then President of the University of Chicago) at a packed Austin Hall where he asked us “What is the purpose of the Harvard Law School?” There was a wave of smiles and snickers for what many thought was either an off-the-wall Socratic sally or just Hutchins being Hutchins asking an impossibly provocative question? Why, didn’t he know that Harvard Law School had no collective purpose beyond assembling scholarly faculty and motivated students? Continue reading “America’s Lawless Empire”