Events • Et. Seq: The Harvard Law School Library Blog

Faculty Book Talk: Levinson and Balkin, Democracy and Dysfunction, Thursday, October 3rd at noon

The Harvard Law School Library staff invite you to attend a book talk and discussion in celebration of the recent publication of Democracy and Dysfunction by Sanford Levinson and Jack M. Balkin (Univ. Chicago Press, Apr. 2019).

Thursday, October 3, 2019, at noon
Harvard Law School Milstein East B
(Directions)
1585 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA
No RSVP required

The book talk discussion will include:

Sanford Levinson


Sanford Levinson
is Visiting Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and W. St. John Garwood and W. St. John Garwood, Jr. Centennial Chair in Law, University of Texas Law School.

Jack M. Balkin is the Knight Professor of Constitutional Law and the First Amendment, Yale Law School.

Commentators:

Jennifer L. Hochschild is the H.L. Jayne Professor of Government, Professor of African and African American Studies, and Harvard College Professor, Harvard University.

Steven Levitsky is Professor of Government, Harvard University.

About Democracy and Dysfunction

“It is no longer controversial that the American political system has become deeply dysfunctional. Today, only slightly more than a quarter of Americans believe the country is heading in the right direction, while sixty-three percent believe we are on a downward slope. The top twenty words used to describe the past year include “chaotic,” “turbulent,” and “disastrous.” Donald Trump’s improbable rise to power and his 2016 Electoral College victory placed America’s political dysfunction in an especially troubling light, but given the extreme polarization of contemporary politics, the outlook would have been grim even if Hillary Clinton had won. The greatest upset in American presidential history is only a symptom of deeper problems of political culture and constitutional design.

Democracy and Dysfunction brings together two of the leading constitutional law scholars of our time, Sanford Levinson and Jack M. Balkin, in an urgently needed conversation that seeks to uncover the underlying causes of our current crisis and their meaning for American democracy. In a series of letters exchanged over a period of two years, Levinson and Balkin travel—along with the rest of the country—through the convulsions of the 2016 election and Trump’s first year in office. They disagree about the scope of the crisis and the remedy required. Levinson believes that our Constitution is fundamentally defective and argues for a new constitutional convention, while Balkin, who believes we are suffering from constitutional rot, argues that there are less radical solutions. As it becomes dangerously clear that Americans—and the world—will be living with the consequences of this pivotal period for many years to come, it is imperative that we understand how we got here—and how we might forestall the next demagogue who will seek to beguile the American public.” — University of Chicago Press Books

Faculty Book Talk: Lawrence Lessig, Fidelity & Constraint: How the Supreme Court Has Read the American Constitution, Wednesday, September 25th at noon

The Harvard Law School Library staff invite you to attend a book talk and discussion in celebration of the recent publication of Fidelity & Constraint: How the Supreme Court Has Read the American Constitution by Lawrence Lessig (Oxford Univ. Press, May 1, 2019).

Wednesday, September 25, 2019, at noon
Harvard Law School Milstein East B/C
(Directions)
1585 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA
No RSVP required

Poster Fidelity & Constraint

About Fidelity & Constraint: How the Supreme Court Has Read the American Constitution

“The fundamental fact about our Constitution is that it is old — the oldest written constitution in the world. The fundamental challenge for interpreters of the Constitution is how to read that old document over time.

In Fidelity & Constraint, legal scholar Lawrence Lessig explains that one of the most basic approaches to interpreting the constitution is the process of translation. Indeed, some of the most significant shifts in constitutional doctrine are products of the evolution of the translation process over time. In every new era, judges understand their translations as instances of “interpretive fidelity,” framed within each new temporal context.

Yet, as Lessig also argues, there is a repeatedly occurring countermove that upends the process of translation. Throughout American history, there has been a second fidelity in addition to interpretive fidelity: what Lessig calls “fidelity to role.” In each of the cycles of translation that he describes, the role of the judge — the ultimate translator — has evolved too. Old ways of interpreting the text now become illegitimate because they do not match up with the judge’s perceived role. And when that conflict occurs, the practice of judges within our tradition has been to follow the guidance of a fidelity to role. Ultimately, Lessig not only shows us how important the concept of translation is to constitutional interpretation, but also exposes the institutional limits on this practice.

The first work of both constitutional and foundational theory by one of America’s leading legal minds, Fidelity & Constraint maps strategies that both help judges understand the fundamental conflict at the heart of interpretation whenever it arises and work around the limits it inevitably creates.” — Oxford University Press

About Lawrence Lessig

Lawrence Lessig is the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School.

Prior to rejoining the Harvard faculty, Lessig was a professor at Stanford Law School, where he founded the school’s Center for Internet and Society, and at the University of Chicago.

He clerked for Judge Richard Posner on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and Justice Antonin Scalia on the United States Supreme Court. Lessig serves on the Board of the AXA Research Fund, and on the advisory boards of Creative Commons and the Sunlight Foundation.

He is a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Association, and has received numerous awards, including the Free Software Foundation’s Freedom Award, Fastcase 50 Award and being named one of Scientific American’s Top 50 Visionaries.

Lessig holds a BA in economics and a BS in management from the University of Pennsylvania, an MA in philosophy from Cambridge, and a JD from Yale.

Book Talk: Ambassador Samantha Power, The Education of an Idealist, Monday, September 23, at noon

The Harvard Law School Library staff invite you to attend a book talk and discussion in celebration of the recent publication of The Education of an Idealist by Ambassador Samantha Power (Dey Street Books, Sept. 2019).

Monday, September 23, 2019, at noon
Harvard Law School Milstein East A/B (Directions)
1585 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA
No RSVP required

Ambassador Power will be joined by commentators:

William P. Alford, Vice Dean for the Graduate Program and International Legal Studies, Jerome A. and Joan L. Cohen Professor of Law, Director, East Asian Legal Studies Program, and Chair, Harvard Law School Project on Disability;

Graham Allison, Douglas Dillon Professor of Government, Harvard University; and

Ambassador Wendy R. Sherman, Professor of the Practice of Public Leadership and Director, Center for Public Leadership, Harvard Kennedy School.

This talk is co-sponsored by the Harvard Law School Library and by Harvard Law School’s International Legal Studies program.

About The Education of an Idealist

“In her memoir, Power offers an urgent response to the question “What can one person do?”—and a call for a clearer eye, a kinder heart, and a more open and civil hand in our politics and daily lives. The Education of an Idealist traces Power’s distinctly American journey from immigrant to war correspondent to presidential Cabinet official. In 2005, her critiques of US foreign policy caught the eye of newly elected senator Barack Obama, who invited her to work with him on Capitol Hill and then on his presidential campaign. After Obama was elected president, Power went from being an activist outsider to a government insider, navigating the halls of power while trying to put her ideals into practice. She served for four years as Obama’s human rights adviser, and in 2013, he named her US Ambassador to the United Nations, the youngest American to assume the role.

A Pulitzer Prize–winning writer, Power transports us from her childhood in Dublin to the streets of war-torn Bosnia to the White House Situation Room and the world of high-stakes diplomacy. Humorous and deeply honest, The Education of an Idealist lays bare the searing battles and defining moments of her life and shows how she juggled the demands of a 24/7 national security job with the challenge of raising two young children. Along the way, she illuminates the intricacies of politics and geopolitics, reminding us how the United States can lead in the world, and why we each have the opportunity to advance the cause of human dignity. Power’s memoir is an unforgettable account of the power of idealism—and of one person’s fierce determination to make a difference.” – HarperCollins Publishers

About Ambassador Samantha Power

Ambassador Samantha Power is the Anna Lindh Professor of the Practice of Global Leadership and Public Policy at Harvard Kennedy School and William D. Zabel ’61 Professor of Practice in Human Rights at Harvard Law School.

From 2013 to 2017 Power served as the 28th U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, as well as a member of President Obama’s cabinet. In this role, Power became the public face of U.S. opposition to Russian aggression in Ukraine and Syria, negotiated the toughest sanctions in a generation against North Korea, lobbied to secure the release of political prisoners, helped build new international law to cripple ISIL’s financial networks, and supported President Obama’s pathbreaking actions to end the Ebola crisis. President Obama has called her “one of our foremost thinkers on foreign policy,” saying that “she showed us that the international community has a moral responsibility and a profound interest in resolving conflicts and defending human dignity.”

From 2009 to 2013, Power served on the National Security Council as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Multilateral Affairs and Human Rights, where she focused on issues including atrocity prevention; UN reform; LGBT and women’s rights; the promotion of religious freedom and the protection of religious minorities; and the prevention of human trafficking.

Called by Forbes “a powerful crusader for U.S foreign policy as well as human rights and democracy,” Ambassador Power has been named one of TIME’s “100 Most Influential People” and one of Foreign Policy’s“Top 100 Global Thinkers.”

Power has been recognized as a leading voice internationally for principled American engagement in the world. Her book “A Problem from Hell”: America and the Age of Genocide won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award in 2003. Power is also author of the New York Times bestseller Chasing the Flame: Sergio Vieira de Mello and the Fight to Save the World (2008) and was the co-editor, with Derek Chollet, of The Unquiet American: Richard Holbrooke in the World (2011).

Power began her career as a journalist, reporting from places such as Bosnia, East Timor, Kosovo, Rwanda, Sudan, and Zimbabwe. Before joining the U.S. government, Power was the founding executive director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Kennedy School, a columnist for TIME, and a National Magazine Award-winning contributor to the Atlantic, the New Yorker, and the New York Review of Books

Power earned a B.A. from Yale University and a J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Faculty Book Talk: Transparency in Health and Health Care in the United States: Law and Ethics, Monday, September 16th at noon

The Harvard Law School Library staff invite you to attend a book talk and discussion in celebration of the recent publication of Transparency in Health and Health Care in the United States: Law and Ethics edited by Holly Fernandez Lynch, I. Glenn Cohen, Carmel Shachar & Barbara J. Evans (Cambridge Univ. Press, Apr. 30, 2019).

Monday, September 16, 2019, at noon
Harvard Law School Milstein West A (Directions)
1585 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA
No RSVP required

Poster, Transparency in Health and Health Care

The book talk discussion will include:

Panelists:

I. Glenn Cohen, James A. Attwood and Leslie Williams Professor of Law and Faculty Director, Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law, Biotechnology & Bioethics, Harvard Law School.


Holly Fernandez Lynch, John Russell Dickson, MD Presidential Assistant Professor of Medical Ethics and Health Policy, Assistant Faculty Director of Online Education, and Senior Fellow, Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics, University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine.


Ameet Sarpatwari, Assistant Professor, Harvard Medical School; Associate Epidemiologist, Brigham & Women’s Hospital; and Assistant Director, Program On Regulation, Therapeutics, And Law (PORTAL), Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Pharmacoeconomics, Brigham & Women’s Hospital.


Moderator:

Elena Fagotto, co-investigator, Project on Transparency and Technology for Better Health and former Director of Research, Transparency Policy Project, Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, Harvard Kennedy School of Government.


This talk is co-sponsored by the Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology, and Bioethics at Harvard Law School.

About Transparency in Health and Health Care in the United States: Law and Ethics

“Transparency is a concept that is becoming increasingly lauded as a solution to a host of problems in the American health care system. Transparency initiatives show great promise, including empowering patients and other stakeholders to make more efficient decisions, improve resource allocation, and better regulate the health care industry. Nevertheless, transparency is not a cure-all for the problems facing the modern health care system. The authors of this volume present a nuanced view of transparency, exploring ways in which transparency has succeeded and ways in which transparency initiatives have room for improvement. Working at the intersection of law, medicine, ethics, and business, the book goes beyond the buzzwords to the heart of transparency’s transformative potential, while interrogating its obstacles and downsides. It should be read by anyone looking for a better understanding of transparency in the health care context.” — Cambridge University Press

Read more…


Today at HLS: Prepare to Practice Conference – Keynote Speech by Professor Daniel Coquillette

Taking place at Harvard Law School today is the 2019 Inaugural Prepare to Practice Conference, a joint initiative between the HLS Library and four other local law schools (Boston College, Boston University, Northeastern, and Suffolk). This conference is designed to provide Boston-area law students with legal research instruction oriented toward their future roles as practicing attorneys.

The conference featured an excellent keynote speech by Professor Daniel Coquillette, the J. Donald Monan, S.J. University Professor at Boston College and the Charles Warren Visiting Professor of American Legal History at Harvard Law School. Professor Coquillette began his remarks by recognizing and thanking the law librarians who have helped him throughout his career as an attorney, law professor, and researcher. He characterized law librarians as “your very best friend and the ones who will see you through to the end.”

Professor Coquillette then provided a brief history of legal research, beginning with the observation that, since Gutenberg invented movable print in 1455, it has been possible to print absolutely accurate law books, which has transformed how law is studied and practiced. In particular, this facilitated several important developments in modern legal systems, primary among which is “precedent justice.”

He then noted that, until about 20 years ago, legal research happened exclusively in the law library, where all of the important primary and secondary legal sources lived and from which they could not be borrowed. Historically, law students wrote research notes by hand, and then, when he was a law student, using a portable typewriter. In addition, in order to find materials in the library, researchers had to use the card catalog, which featured an indexing system that many library users were unable to navigate and use without the help of a librarian.

All of this changed with the invention of online legal research. Today, he noted, Westlaw and Lexis provide essentially intuitive access to all of the primary and secondary sources that legal researchers would need, with automated, hyperlink-equipped citators that make the pain of having to use books to Shepardize cases a distant memory.

Professor Coquillete contended that, while on the surface this appears to have made legal research easier, it has also presented a new set of challenges. Today, if you want the legal information equivalent of a glass of water, you go to what is essentially a fire hydrant to fill that glass, and a lot of what is coming out of that fire hydrant lacks quality. Quality, of course, is expensive — ask any law librarian whose responsibilities include managing a library budget. Furthermore, information that has not been screened to determine its quality may, in fact, be as good as useless. This is a major problem of what he calls the modern “disinformation age,” and why the continued work of law libraries is so important to legal practice and scholarship.

According to Professor Coquillette, even if legal researchers have quality information, they also need two important skills to process it. The first is critical judgment, which is a skill that can be learned, both through experience and one-on-one mentorship. Without critical judgment, which allows a person to see the essence of a problem and craft a reasonable response to it, even quality information can be dangerous. The second is wisdom, which can also be characterized as perspective and seeing the big picture. This is stored in the culture of our systems of law and democracy, and is passed on through both people and books.

According to Professor Coquillette, it is easier than ever to lose sight of the big picture in our digital world of instant knowledge and instant gratification. One way in which people can regain it, however, is to read: not only legal materials, but also classic novels. As a conclusion to his remarks, Professor Coquillette recommended three books in particular that provide guidance on how we can critically view some of the largest problems of our time.

The first of these problems is climate. Professor Coquillette suggested reading Moby Dick by Herman Melville. In your reading, imagine that the ship (the Pequot) is human government and at the helm is Captain Ahab, a crazy megalomaniac who, despite all reasonable warnings not to, decides to take on the natural world as symbolized by a great white whale. Spoiler alert: the Pequot is destroyed, and Captain Ahab dies.

Racism is another great problem of our age, and Professor Coquillette recommended reading Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn to gain a bigger picture of that problem. The story presents, in code, a true picture of racism’s destructive impact on people and societies.

Problem number three is that of living and working in what he called “coercive environments.” This problem, in particular, comes with the territory in the legal profession. Professor Coquillette proposed reading Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison for guidance on contemplating this problem in a big-picture way. The theme of this book is that, if you get to the point where people see you for what they assume you should be, they see right through you and you become invisible and disappear, a phenomenon characterized by Professor Coquillette as a “moral sickness” of our age.

Professor Coquillette is a very engaging speaker, and his keynote was a perfect way to kick off this conference. Not only did it remind attendees of the value of law libraries and librarians as partners in the legal research process, but it also encouraged students to incorporate critical judgment as they work toward becoming attorneys who are charged with addressing and solving large- and small-scale societal problems.

Upcoming Event at the Harvard Law School Library: Prepare to Practice Inaugural Legal Research Conference 2019

We are looking forward to hosting our first Prepare to Practice Legal Research Conference for law students next Tuesday, May 21, 8:30am – 4:30pm. We are teaming up to four other Boston-area law schools (Boston College, Boston University, Northeastern and Suffolk) to offer this full-day event, which focuses on getting students up to speed on research methods for fact-finding, corporate law, immigration, and many other topics.

The conference will feature speakers from firms, courts, non-profits, and law schools. Student attendees will also also have the chance to speak with legal database providers about some of their latest and greatest services!

A complimentary continental breakfast and lunch will be provided. The conference will conclude with a networking reception in the ​Harvard Law School Library.

Are you a Boston-area law student who is interested in attending? Attendee spots are still available, and we would love to have you join us! To register, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/e/prepare-to-practice-inaugural-legal-research-conference-2019-tickets-57800959225.

Book Talk: The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: A Commentary, Wednesday April 17th at noon

The Harvard Law School Library staff invite you to attend a book talk and discussion in celebration of the recent publication of The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: A Commentary edited by Ilias Bantekas, Michael Ashley Stein & Dimitris Anastasiou (Oxford Univ. Press, Oct. 2018).

Professor Ilias Bantekas and Professor Michael Ashley Stein will be joined in discussion by:

Jacqueline Bhabha, Professor of the Practice of Health and Human Rights, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; Jeremiah Smith, Jr. Lecturer in Law, Harvard Law School; and Adjunct Lecturer in Public Policy, Harvard Kennedy School;

Professor Gerald L. Neuman, J. Sinclair Armstrong Professor of International, Foreign, and Comparative Law at Harvard Law School;

Professor Ruth Okediji, Jeremiah Smith, Jr. Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and Co-Director of the Berkman Klein Center.

The discussion will be moderated by Professor William P. Alford, Vice Dean for the Graduate Program and International Legal Studies, Jerome A. and Joan L. Cohen Professor of Law, Director, East Asian Legal Studies Program, and Chair, Harvard Law School Project on Disability.

This talk is co-sponsored by the Human Rights Program and the Harvard Law School Project on Disability.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019, at noon
Harvard Law School Milstein East A (Directions)
1585 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA
No RSVP required

UNCRPD Commentary poster

About The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: A Commentary

“This treatise is a detailed article-by-article examination of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). Each article of the CRPD contains a methodical analysis of the preparatory works, followed by an exhaustive examination of the contents of each article based on case law and concluding observations from the CRPD Committee, judgments from national and international courts and tribunals, pertinent UN and other reports, and literature on the topic in question.

Although primarily addressed to lawyers, the volume features commentary from a broad range of scholars across a variety of disciplines in order to provide a comprehensive study of the legal, psychological, education, sociological, and other aspects of the CPRD. This encyclopaedic commentary on the CRPD effectively covers all the issues arising from international disability law and practice.” — Oxford University Press

About the Editors

Ilias Bantekas is Professor of International Law and Arbitration, Hamad Bin Khalifa University, and a Senior Fellow at the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (IALS) of the University of London. He acts as consultant to various inter-governmental organizations, such as UNDP, UN special procedures, the Council of Europe, and the EU. He also advises state entities, law firms, and NGOs in most fields of international law, human rights, international development law, and arbitration and is regularly appointed as arbitrator in international disputes. Key books include International Human Rights Law and Practice (2nd ed, CUP 2016), International Law Concentrate (OUP, 3rd ed, 2017), Sovereign Debt and Human Rights (OUP 2018), and The International Criminal Court and Africa (OUP 2017).

Michael Ashley Stein holds a J.D. from Harvard Law School and a Ph.D. from Cambridge University. Co-founder and Executive Director of the Harvard Law School Project on Disability and a Visiting Professor at Harvard Law School for over a decade, Stein holds an Extraordinary Professorship at the University of Pretoria’s Centre for Human Rights, and a visiting professorship at the Free University of Amsterdam. Stein previously was Professor (and Cabell Professor) at William & Mary Law School, and also taught at New York University and Stanford law schools. An internationally recognized expert on disability law and policy, Stein participated in the drafting of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, works with disabled peoples’ organizations around the world, actively consults with governments on their disability laws and policies, advises a number of UN bodies and national human rights institutions, and has brought landmark litigation.

Book Talk: Cass Sunstein’s How Change Happens, Wednesday, April 10 at noon

The Harvard Law School Library staff invite you to attend a book talk and discussion in celebration of the recent publication of How Change Happens by Cass R. Sunstein (MIT Press, April 9, 2019). Professor Sunstein is the Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard University.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019, at noon
Harvard Law School WCC Milstein West A/B (Directions)
1585 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA
No RSVP required, light lunch will be served

Sunstein How Change Happens Poster

About How Change Happens

“How does social change happen? When do social movements take off? Sexual harassment was once something that women had to endure; now a movement has risen up against it. White nationalist sentiments, on the other hand, were largely kept out of mainstream discourse; now there is no shortage of media outlets for them. In this book, with the help of behavioral economics, psychology, and other fields, Cass Sunstein casts a bright new light on how change happens.

Sunstein focuses on the crucial role of social norms—and on their frequent collapse. When norms lead people to silence themselves, even an unpopular status quo can persist. Then one day, someone challenges the norm—a child who exclaims that the emperor has no clothes; a woman who says “me too.” Sometimes suppressed outrage is unleashed, and long-standing practices fall.

Sometimes change is more gradual, as “nudges” help produce new and different decisions—apps that count calories; texted reminders of deadlines; automatic enrollment in green energy or pension plans. Sunstein explores what kinds of nudges are effective and shows why nudges sometimes give way to bans and mandates. Finally, he considers social divisions, social cascades, and “partyism,” when identification with a political party creates a strong bias against all members of an opposing party—which can both fuel and block social change.” — MIT Press

About Cass Sunstein

Cass R. Sunstein, Robert Walmsley University Professor at Harvard Law School, was Administrator of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs in the Obama administration. He was the recipient of the 2018 Holberg Prize, one of the largest annual international research prizes awarded to scholars who have made outstanding contributions to research in the arts and humanities, social science, law, or theology. He is the author of The Cost-Benefit Revolution (MIT Press), Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth, and Happiness (with Richard H. Thaler), and other books.

More About How Change Happens

“It’s often said that the only constancy in life is change. Cass Sunstein weaves threads from diverse traditions in behavioral science to explain how big shifts get started.” — Angela Duckworth, Founder and CEO of Character Lab and Professor of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania; author of Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance

“If you think you’d like to change something—another person, an organization, or even your society—then try this test: Pick up this book and read five pages. If you don’t have your eyes opened with a fresh insight or useful tool, well, you’re probably not serious enough about making change.” — Chip Heath, Professor, Stanford Graduate School of Business; coauthor of Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard

“For those lamenting the status quo, and questioning whether change is possible, Cass Sunstein provides a ray of hope. Integrating insights from his own, and others’, research on topics such as social norms, group polarization, and pluralistic ignorance with his intimate knowledge of law and public policy, Sunstein provides a road map of how change can and does happen. Characteristically wise and erudite, How Change Happens is a must-read for those who want to understand, and help to instigate, social change.” — George Loewenstein, Herbert A. Simon University Professor of Economics and Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University

“Many prominent scholars write about why desirable changes occur in some contexts but not others. None brings to the challenge the breadth of Cass Sunstein, or his depth of insight into the complexities involved. How Change Happens provides a breathtaking tour of the vast intellectual landscape on the subject, bringing into focus critical elements of the topography and interactions among its features. Academics and the wider public alike will benefit from Sunstein’s profound ideas, lucid exposition, and engaging writing.” — Timur Kuran, Professor of Economics and Political Science, Gorter Family Professor of Islamic Studies, Duke University

“Cass Sunstein’s new book is a tour de force exploring one of the most urgent problems of our time: how and why seemingly stable societal norms collapse and long-standing institutions come apart. Containing a feast of ideas on policy intervention, the book is bound to open up new avenues of research, and deserves to be read by students of economics, law, and politics.” — Kaushik Basu, Professor of Economics and Carl Marks Professor of International Studies, Cornell University

 

Book Talk: Lawrence Lessig’s America, Compromised, Wednesday, March 27 at noon

The Harvard Law School Library staff invite you to attend a book talk and discussion in celebration of the recent publication of America, Compromised by Lawrence Lessig (Univ. Chi. Press, Nov. 2018).  Professor Lessig is the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019, at noon
Harvard Law School WCC Milstein West A/B (Directions)
1585 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA
No RSVP required, light lunch will be served

America, Compromised Poster

About America, Compromised

“There is not a single American awake to the world who is comfortable with the way things are.”

So begins Lawrence Lessig’s sweeping indictment of contemporary American institutions and the corruption that besets them. We can all see it—from the selling of Congress to special interests to the corporate capture of the academy. Something is wrong. It’s getting worse.

And it’s our fault. What Lessig shows, brilliantly and persuasively, is that we can’t blame the problems of contemporary American life on bad people, as our discourse all too often tends to do. Rather, he explains, “We have allowed core institutions of America’s economic, social, and political life to become corrupted. Not by evil souls, but by good souls. Not through crime, but through compromise.” Every one of us, every day, making the modest compromises that seem necessary to keep moving along, is contributing to the rot at the core of American civic life. Through case studies of Congress, finance, the academy, the media, and the law, Lessig shows how institutions are drawn away from higher purposes and toward money, power, quick rewards—the first steps to corruption.

Lessig knows that a charge so broad should not be levied lightly, and that our instinct will be to resist it. So he brings copious, damning detail gleaned from years of research, building a case that is all but incontrovertible: America is on the wrong path. If we don’t acknowledge our own part in that, and act now to change it, we will hand our children a less perfect union than we were given. It will be a long struggle. This book represents the first steps. — University of Chicago Press

About Lawrence Lessig

Lawrence Lessig is the Roy L. Furman Professor of Law and Leadership at Harvard Law School. Prior to rejoining the Harvard faculty, Lessig was a professor at Stanford Law School, where he founded the school’s Center for Internet and Society, and at the University of Chicago. He clerked for Judge Richard Posner on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals and Justice Antonin Scalia on the United States Supreme Court. Lessig serves on the Board of the AXA Research Fund, and on the advisory boards of Creative Commons and the Sunlight Foundation. He is a Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Association, and has received numerous awards, including the Free Software Foundation’s Freedom Award, Fastcase 50 Award and being named one of Scientific American’s Top 50 Visionaries. Lessig holds a BA in economics and a BS in management from the University of Pennsylvania, an MA in philosophy from Cambridge, and a JD from Yale.

More About America, Compromised

“America, Compromised is about the country in the Trump era, but not about Trump. Indeed, Lessig would have written much the same book if Hillary Clinton were president and if Democrats had control of both houses of Congress. His focus is not on bad people doing bad things, but on how incentives across a range of institutions have created corruption, with deleterious consequences for the nation. . . . America, Compromised join[s] an impressive array of books and essays that may, someday, have a future intellectual historian using them as examples to lament the fact that his or her contemporaries are not as eloquent or important as the group that arose in the Trump era to combat the threats to our way of life.” — Norm Ornstein — New York Times Book Review

“Lessig lays out a working definition and theory of corruption that is at once simple and comprehensive, a devastating argument that America is racing for the cliff’s edge of structural, possibly irreversible tyranny.” — Cory Doctorow

 

HLS faculty and students: join us for Notes and Comments!

On Wednesday, April 10, from 2:30-5pm, the normally quiet* tables of the HLS Library Reading Room will become collaboration zones for student-faculty interaction on scholarly topics during Notes & Comment: Connecting Students and Faculty on Scholarship. Faculty will be available to meet with students seeking guidance on their research and writing for publication — including student Notes in HLS journals, writing competitions, and other extra-curricular publishing opportunities.

Faculty members will be available to advise you on the scholarship process and discuss your ideas and outlines during one-on-one and small group meetings in the Library Reading Room with a food and drinks networking reception. The reception begins at 2:30 and the advising at 3pm. You will also be able to sign up to meet with a librarian for a research consultation.

Please let us know you’re coming at http://bit.ly/ncspr19 so that the event coordinators can plan appropriate student-faculty partnerships in advance. We will schedule partnerships based on signup time, so it is to your advantage to sign up early. Advance registration will be available through April 2nd.

Photo credit:
Writing Tools by Pete O’Shea on Flickr, CC BY 2.0

%d bloggers like this: