There has been considerable coverage on the new Harvard University sexual harassment policy.  On Oct. 15, a group of 28 HLS faculty members published this op-ed in the Boston Globe arguing that the new university policy 1) violates principles of Due Process, 2) inappropriately expanded prohibited conduct  past what was required by Titles VII and IX; and, 3) violated the norms of faculty governance and individual school rule in disciplinary matters through how it was decided.  Following this, the Harvard Crimson (Oct. 20) group of HLS alumnae (Oct. 24) published response op-eds in support of the policy, and a group of HLS students and organizations circulated an open letter critiquing the professors’ critique.  On October 26, Professor Janet Halley, one of the original faculty signatories, published a 26-page Memorandum and Call to Action articulating her concerns with the policy on the HLS American Constitution Society website.

Why Innocent People Plead Guilty

Judge Jed Rakoff of the Southern District of New York published this Op-Ed in the forthcoming issue of the New York Review of Books.  He briefly recounts the history of the rise of plea bargaining and more stringent sentencing laws, arguing that it is now more strategic for the innocent defendant to take a plea bargain rather than risk a conviction.  Judge Rakoff objects that this practice 1) is one-sided; 2) secretly done by prosecutors with little to no review by judges; and, 3) leads many innocents to take plea deals.  He proposes adopting a strategy that Florida and Connecticut have begun experimenting with: involving judges in the plea-bargaining process.

Arguments in gay marriage cases from Louisiana and Texas set for January 

The Fifth Circuit has announced that oral arguments for the gay same-sex marriage cases have been set for the week of January 5.  With the Supreme Court having declined the cases heretofore appealed to it, the Conservative Fifth Circuit is seen as a key candidate to create a circuit split that is seen as forcing the Court to grant review, if the pending Sixth Circuit case does not create the split first.

Sixth Circuit agrees to rehear “heckler’s veto” decision

Eugene Volokh posts in the Washington Post that the Sixth Circuit has agreed to rehear en banc a “heckler’s veto” case in Bible Believers v. Wayne County, in which a panel had affirmed a lower court dismissal of a 1st Amendment challenge by a group of Christians who were evangelizing at the Wayne County, MI, Arab International Festival were asked to leave by police officers.  One protestor carried a severed pig’s head on a stick “to repel those who feared it” and castigated the crowd for following a “pedophile prophet.”  The crowd harangued them and  started throwing rocks and debris at them, and the police asked the Christian group to leave under threat of citation for disorderly conduct.

Silent Treatment 

Last Saturday at 5 a.m., the Supreme Court denied without opinion a request to lift a Fifth Circuit stay on a district court injunction’s on Texas’ voting ID requirements that the district court had found intentionally racially discriminatory.  Justice Ginsburg, joined by Justices Sotomayor and Kagan, issued a dissent.