Category: Academics

Columbia Professor: Barr Can Release Grand Jury Information But Does Not Want To Do So

As we await the release of the Special Counsel report, there are some curious standards being suggested for the release of grand jury information. Various media organizations have featured experts insisting that Barr could release such information called Rule 6(e) information. That is news for me. I was counsel in one of the largest Rule 6(e) cases, the Rocky Flats Grand Jury case, years ago in Denver. Yet, the Nation has posted an explanation by Columbia University Law Professor Jeffrey Fagan that the rules for such disclosure are “elastic” and Barr could be “creative” in making releases. In my view, that is in direct contradiction with not just long-standing but recent precedent. There should not be just a wildly different account by legal experts on such a question so I would like to explain why such views are misplaced.

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Turley To Speak At Utah Valley University

I have the pleasure of speaking today and tomorrow at Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah. I will be speaking on Wednesday on “A Crisis of Faith: How Trump Has Changed Journalism in America.” The speech will explore the history and evolution of American journalism as well as the challenges presented in the last two years. While I have been critical of President Donald Trump over his attacks on the media, I also believe that American media has become more partisan and biased in its coverage. The speech will look at the changing standards and economics governing journalism in America.

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Turley And Waldron To Debate Hate Speech At Rice University

Hate speech and the First Amendment in focus at Rice April 9

'Hate Speech and the First Amendment'

I will be participating in a long-planned debate over the banning or criminalization of hate speech in the United States. I will be debate NYU Professor Jeremy Waldron, one of the leading proponents of new speech regulations. He is the author if The Harm in Hate Speech (Harvard University Press, 2012). The debate will be held on Tuesday, April 9th at Rice University in Houston.

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Wake Forest Grapples With Free Speech Controversy Over Instagram Posting

There is a controversy brewing over free speech at Wake Forest University where an Instagram post has triggered an investigation. The Winston-Salem Journal reports that the “racist” posting  encouraged students to vote for a candidate for student body president. It read: “He wants to build a wall between Wake and Winston-Salem State and he’ll make them pay for it.” While the university’s president Nathan Hatch described it as a possible “parody”, an investigation was still launched. That has raised objections from students who complain of a chilling effect on speech under such rules.

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Augsburg University and UChicago Face Protests Over Classroom Use Of The N-Word

In Minnesota, Augsburg University has reportedly stripped Professor Phillip Adamo of his directorship of the honors program after he used the n-word in a class discussion of a passage (using the word) from James Baldwin. In the meantime, at the University of Chicago (my alma mater) Professor Geoffrey Stone is under fire for the same alleged offense in a classroom. Unlike Augsburg, however, UChicago has continued its staunch defense of free speech and academic freedom in support of Stone.

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Sarah Lawrence Students Demand Tenure Review Of Conservative Professor, No-Whites Scholarships, And Free Detergent

Sarah Lawrence College students have demanded issued a list of demands from the ” the Diaspora Coalition” to address “the injustices imposed on people of color by this institution on a daily basis.” What is striking about the list is the inclusion of scholarships that would bar white students and an action targeting a member of the faculty because they disagree with his views. While the college is pledging to work with the students to reach a compromise, the demands reflect the growing intolerance of opposing views and free speech rights on campuses — as well as a call for the awarding of scholarship on the basis of race. They also demand special benefits for “first-generation students” as well as mandatory training sessions for all students on “intellectual elitism and classism.” They also include demands for free food, free detergent and free student storage.

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Bribery Scandal Rocks Higher Education

Higher education has been rocked by the extraordinary crackdown on the purchasing of admissions into some of the country’s top universities and colleges by wealthy families. The scheme by William “Rick” Singer, 58, raked in as much as $2.5 million per student through his Edge College & Career Network. Schools have long catered to the families of major donors. Jared Kushner for example has long been accused of getting into Harvard with mediocre grades after his father pledged $2.5 million. This scandal however is far more organized and widespread. That is most striking about the sting operation code-named “Operation Varsity Blues” is that, among almost 50 arrested individuals, are the large number of parents who are being charged.

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Berkeley Police Arrest Attacker Of Conservative Activist

Zachary Greenberg, 28, has been arrested by Berkeley police after the attack on conservative activist Hayden Williams, 26, on UC Berkeley campus while trying to recruit students for a conservative group. While President Donald Trump encouraged Williams to sue Berkeley, the university actually condemned the attack and launched an investigation. For that reason, I cannot understand Trump’s criticism. I have objected to the treatment of conservatives on campuses including Berkeley, but in this instance the university seems to have acted quickly and responsibly. I fail to be the basis for a lawsuit against the university or the President’s attack on the university’s actions.

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Harvard Students Demand Dean Step Down Due To His Representations of Harvey Weinstein

Harvard students are petitioning for the removal of law professor Ronald Sullivan, the house dean (previously called House Master) of Winthrop House. The school has announced a “climate review” on whether Sullivan can continue as dean after he agreed to represent accused sexual harassers Harvey Weinstein and Harvard economics professor Roland Fryer. It appears that even the representation of people accused of sexual harassment is now considered its a threatening or improper act.

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“Federal Judges Are Appointed For Life, Not For Eternity”: Supreme Court Reverses Opinion By Deceased Judge

Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit apparently capped his legendary career with the distinction of both published and being reversed on a decision after he passed away on March 29. The Supreme Court has ruled that the Ninth Circuit erred in allowing the opinion to be announced after Reinhardt passed. It was an astonishing and facially improper decision to publish the opinion after the death of a jurist. The Ninth Circuit was unanimously reversed — producing an increasingly rare unanimity on the Court. The per curiam ruling vacated the Ninth Circuit’s en banc ruling in Rizo v. Yovino.

The Court’s holding can be summed up in a single line: “Federal judges are appointed for life, not for eternity.”

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The Warren Wealth Tax: A Response To Professor Bruce Ackerman

I recently wrote about the constitutional questions raised by the wealth tax proposed by Elizabeth Warren given countervailing constitutional dictates and standing precedent. One of the early advocates of such a tax has been Yale Professor Bruce Ackerman who assured Warren that such a tax would be constitutional. In a Slate column entitled “Constitutional Critiques of Elizabeth Warren’s Wealth Tax Proposal Are Absurd,” Ackerman dismisses any possible constitutional challenge as not “serious” and “absurd.” Putting the hyperbole aside, I wanted to respond to the substance of the column since it makes reference to my earlier Washington Post column. As I have previously said, there are good-faith arguments on both sides of this issue and the outcome is likely to be a close vote. However, Ackerman reduction of countervailing arguments to absurdity not only omits key arguments but creates an incomplete account of the case against such a wealth tax.

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Happy Valentine’s Day With Lots Of . . . Professional Respect and Platonic Interest

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) noted an interesting twist for students who are celebrating Valentine’s Day at the University of New Orleans: any Valentine’s Card must be clearly platonic or risk a violation of the school’s rule against any “suggestive” note or communication. However, from a legal perspective, I would suggest the greater problem is not the Valentines per se but that chubby figure known as Cupid.

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Turley To Speak At Penn Law On Presidential Power

I will have the pleasure of speaking today at the University of Pennsylvania Law School on the evolution of presidential power in the United States. I will participate in a distinguished panel entitled “Presidential Power and the Current Crisis of Executive Authority” at 4:00 to 6:00 pm at Fitts Auditorium (3501 Sansom Street, Philadelphia). The event will be open to the public.

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Yale Sued For The Hostile Environment Created By Fraternities

Yale is being sued in a class action brought by three female students who allege that fraternities create a hostile environment for women. Anna McNeil, Eliana Singer and Ry Walker object to the parties and atmosphere created by such fraternities. In their filing, they tell the court that “they have been shocked, disappointed, and disturbed by the prominent role that the Fraternities play in the campus social scene.” Many would note that there is not one social scene at Yale and that these students can simply avoid Frat parties and activities. That may be the response of the Court, which could view this as an effort in part to force Yale to curtail parties that these students do not want to attend. The filing objects to the very structure and role of fraternities on campus.

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