Faculty in the News
Columbia Law School Clip Report, July 16–31, 2019
Medium | OneZero—July 16
It’s Time to Reboot the Startup Economy
By Tim Wu
Being the place companies get their start has given the United States an extraordinary advantage over the last century, and helped make it the world’s preeminent economic power. But this advantage, which we sometimes take for granted, is now threatened by excessive consolidation in the U.S. economy. The most obvious symptom is the decline of the American startup.
Associated Press—July 16
Facebook executive defends currency plan to senators
“What happens in tech is that one big company grows to control a lot of stuff, and if it’s allowed to stay there for too long, it slows down the sector,” Timothy Wu, a professor of law, science and technology at Columbia Law School, has said. “Companies like Google and Facebook have come to hold too much power. There’s a growing sense that they have too much control over information, news, advertising, even who we are and what’s going on.”
[Note: Amid news concerning government action against Facebook on antitrust grounds and his testimony before the House antitrust subcommittee, Wu was quoted and referenced in media outlets worldwide, including The American Prospect, Ars Technica, the Associated Press, BlockTribune, Business Insider, CNET, the Columbia Journalism Review, the Daily Mail, Deseret News, Dissent Magazine, Fast Company, Forbes, Inc., Investor’s Business Daily, InsideSources, The Mercury News, Le Monde, NBC News, The New York Times, POLITICO, POLITICO’s Playbook, The Sun, USA Today, Vanity Fair, The Verge, and The Washington Post.]
Facebook’s Libra Should Be Regulated Like a Security, Says Former CFTC Chair
Gensler will testify before the House Financial Services Committee on Wednesday, as part of a panel of expert witnesses on the potential implications of Libra. He will join Public Citizen president Robert Weissman, Columbia University law professor Katharina Pistor . . . In her opening remarks, Pistor wrote that it appears as if Libra has been designed to act as a “currency of currencies,” but that its governance structure raises questions.
[Note: Amid news about the creation of Libra, a new cryptocurrency created by Facebook, and her testimony before the House Committee on Financial Services, Pistor was quoted and referenced in numerous media outlets worldwide, including Accounting Web, CoinSpice, Crowdfund Insider, Handelsblatt, MIT Technology Review, The National, the New Yorker, and Project Syndicate.]
Retired Justice John Paul Stevens, Hero To Left, Dead At 99
Justice Stevens’ opinion in the case Chevron USA Inc. v. NRDC — which said courts must give deference to federal agencies’ statutory interpretations — is among the most cited in Supreme Court history. In the 3 1/2 years after it was decided, Chevron was cited more than 600 times, according to a 1988 article by Boston University law professor Clark Byse. By 2012, that number had reached 11,760, Columbia Law School professor Thomas W. Merrill reported in another article.
[Note: Amid news of Justice John Paul Stevens’ death and his most influential decisions on the Supreme Court, Merrill and his articles on Chevron were quoted in numerous media outlets, including Bloomberg Law and Law360.]
Justice John Paul Stevens, Who 'Left Us a Better Nation,' Dies at 99
Throughout his career on the court, Stevens strived to bring “more law” to capital punishment. James Liebman of Columbia Law School and Lawrence Marshall of Stanford Law school, both former Stevens clerks, have described the justice’s approach to the death penalty as “less is better.”
Prospect Magazine—July 16
The world’s top 50 thinkers 2019
Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw
The best thinkers are able to draw lines from history to the present day. That is certainly the case with Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, the lawyer and professor who coined the term “intersectionality” three decades ago. . . .
Khan was a 27-year-old law student when she published “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox” in the Yale Law Journal in 2017. That single scholarly article has reshaped the debate over monopoly law. . . . .
[Note: Khan is an academic fellow at Columbia Law School.]
TIME Magazine—July 16
Trump's New Restrictions on Asylum Seekers Violate U.S. and International Law, Experts Say
However, Elora Mukherjee, a professor of law at Columbia University and director of Columbia Law School’s Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, tells TIME the White House does not have the authority to change laws established by Congress. “In our system of checks and balances, the code of federal regulations cannot be overwritten by executive fiat,” Mukherjee says. “The President can’t just rewrite the law.”
[Note: Amid news concerning the conditions of federal migrant detention centers and her testimony before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform, Mukherjee was quoted and referenced in numerous media outlets worldwide, including Bustle, CGTN, Rolling Stone, Salon, The Texas Observer, and TIME Magazine.]
The New York Times—July 17
John Paul Stevens Was Justice Incarnate
By Jamal Greene
We often see Justice Stevens described as the leader of the “liberal” wing of the Supreme Court in his last years on the bench, but nothing defined him so much as his independence. . . . As the world around him became increasingly divided, he continued to believe he could persuade his colleagues through the sheer power of his good sense.
[Note: An excerpt from Greene’s article was quoted in Foreign Affairs.]
Associated Press—July 18
New York’s climate plan will drive big changes, if it works
New York is the sixth state to mandate 100% renewable energy sources in coming decades, after Hawaii, Nevada, New Mexico, Washington and California. But New York’s plan would get there first. “It’s one of the strongest climate change laws in the world,” said Michael Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University. “It’s a heavy lift, but not as difficult as coping with the effects of severe climate change if action is not taken.”
[Note: This article appeared in numerous media outlets worldwide. Amid news concerning a new climate change law in New York state, Gerrard was quoted in numerous media outlets worldwide including Al Jazeera, E&E News’ ClimateWire, POLITICO, POLITICO’s Morning Energy newsletter, and The Post-Star.]
BBC News—July 18
Florida city blasts Baby Shark song to drive away homeless from waterfront
"These are people who are already in desperate straits and this is an effort to make life even more miserable for them," says Maria Foscarinis, founder and executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty. "Driving them out by blaring music is just inhumane and really shocking."
[Note: Foscarinis is a lecturer at Columbia Law and an alumna. Her comments also appeared in Le Soir and the London Evening Standard.]
Deutsche Welle News—July 18
Colombia's youth fighting for the Amazon — in the courts and on the streets`
In last year's historic lawsuit, Colombia's Supreme Court ruled the state had failed to protect citizens' rights to a healthy environment . . . Michael Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University in New York, has commended the detailed orders the Supreme Court gave the government, calling the court's decision "one of the most solid environmental judgments that any court in the world has dictated."
Jewish Journal—July 18
You Can’t Fight Anti-Semitism With Racism
Meanwhile, “President Trump makes constant use of the language and logic of the ‘new right,’ a toxic blend of antebellum white supremacy, twentieth-century fascism, European far-right movements of the 1970s, and today’s self-identified ‘alt-right,’ ” noted scholar Bernard E. Harcourt. “His words and deeds have empowered and enabled an upsurge of white nationalists and extremist organizations.” The wave of anti-Semitic hate crimes, which has surged by 99 percent since Trump was elected, backs up Harcourt’s assertions.
Justice Stevens Ruling Set Groundwork For US Climate Policy
“The Clean Air Act is the most powerful statutory tool that the federal government has to fight climate change, and it was the Massachusetts case that really empowered EPA to use that tool,” said Michael B. Gerrard, director of Columbia Law School's Sabin Center for Climate Change Law. “It expanded the availability of standing to sue for environmental cases after a long assault led by Justice [Antonin] Scalia, and it made clear the EPA has the authority to address the world's most pressing environmental issue.”
Washington Examiner—July 18
Coal-reliant counties unprepared for fiscal collapse
While there are federal regulations requiring disclosure of risks regarding the financial health of municipalities, they aren’t very strong, according to John Coffee, a law professor and director of the Center on Corporate Governance at Columbia Law School, who did not work on the report. Coffee said municipalities are sometimes understaffed and unsophisticated about disclosure risks, compared to corporations. “Anyone who makes disclosures at the municipal level will focus on the positive stuff more than negative,” he said.
The Washington Post—July 18
The Technology 202: Europe is still in the lead when it comes to cracking down on big tech
The heightened look at Amazon was highlighted by one particular attendee. As Cicilline pressed Amazon executive Nate Sutton, observers noted that Lina Khan, a legal scholar who has been called Amazon’s “antitrust antagonist,” was sitting behind him.
[Note: Khan is an academic fellow at Columbia Law. Amid news concerning the application of antitrust laws to companies like Amazon and Facebook, she was also quoted and cited in media outlets including the Irish Examiner and Olhar Digital.]
Ahead of the Curve: A STEM Premium for Law Students?
It seems some professors at Columbia Law School didn’t get the memo. Rather than kicking back, they’re keeping busy on Capitol Hill this week. . . . Elora Mukherjee got the ball rolling July 12 with her testimony before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Reform on the Trump Administration’s child separation policy. . . . Then on Tuesday, Columbia Professor Tim Wu is slated to testify before the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial, and Administrative Law. . . . A day later, Columbia professor Katharina Pistor is due to speak at a hearing before the House Committee on Financial Services on Facebook’s proposed cryptocurrency, dubbed Libra.
Cleveland lead poisoning crisis: What hurdles remain for passing, implementing successful prevention law?
The key to successfully preventing lead poisoning in rentals isn’t writing or passing a law – it’s enforcing it, said Emily Benfer, a visiting law professor at Columbia Law School. Benfer and students at Columbia’s Health Justice Advocacy Clinic have studied what they call pre-rental inspection laws in 17 cities and states, all aimed at reducing lead poisoning.
The Appeal—July 22
NEEDED IN JAILS IN A HEAT EMERGENCY: AIR CONDITIONING AND OVERSIGHT
In 2015, a report from the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University warned of the growing threat climate change and extreme weather posed to the safety of incarcerated people. The solutions it identified included cutting the number of people in prisons and jails and protecting people from extreme weather events. It also recognized the obstacles to taking sufficient action, including “societal animosity” toward people in prison.
The Crime Report—July 22
Are Public Housing Tracts America’s ‘Occupied Territories’?
In Illinois v Wardlow, the Supreme Court upheld the right of law enforcement to question residents if the stop occurred in a high crime area, according to a 2019 study by Ben Grunwald and Jeffrey Fagan in the California Law Review. But the authors of the study said the definition of a “high crime area” can be questionable.
Partisan Politics and Federal Law Enforcement: The Promise and Corruption of Reconstruction
By Daniel Richman
Partisan attacks on federal criminal enforcement agencies, although louder than usual in recent years, are nothing new. Yet the existence and future prospects of these agencies are largely taken for granted. Often forgotten are the contingency of their survival; the delicacy of the balances we demand they strike between political accountability and insulation, between zealousness and respect for the rule of law; and the relationship between what it takes to survive and what is needed to strike the right balance.
The Creative and Cruel Ways People Make Life Hell for the Homeless
But active measures like loud music do more than just passively involve citizens—and point to how routinized antipathy toward the homeless isn't just built into the design of spaces, but engrained in the fabric of day-to-day life. "Policies like these are an effort to drive people away [but also] an effort to cover up visible poverty," said Maria Foscarinis, executive director of the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty (NLCHP). "It's a way to push people out of sight, and it's not a good response."
E&E News | ClimateWire—July 23
Science might help win climate cases. Here's how
Michael Burger, executive director of Columbia University's Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, said the so-called kids' climate case provides a "preview" of how different types of attribution science would play out in the courtroom. . . . Burger said expert reports "filed in anticipation of a trial" demonstrated how attribution science could help answer the lawsuit's central issues of how many emissions can be traced to the U.S. government and whether climate change could be attributed to the plaintiff's specific harms.
Can Lawyers Do More to Stop M&A Failures?
Global regulatory risks are a bigger threat than in the past, said Eric Talley, a corporate law professor at Columbia University Law School. “Antitrust and tax authorities have been very energized over scrutinizing acquisitions for almost a decade. And more recently, national security concerns have attracted government scrutiny in both the U.S. and abroad, many times unwinding even closed deals,” he said.
MSNBC | Deadline: White House—July 23
A look at the legal argument for commencing an impeachment inquiry (Video)
Former senior FBI official Chuck Rosenberg, former Senator Claire McCaskill, former federal prosecutor Berit Berger, and former Congressman David Jolly on how launching an impeachment inquiry could be helpful in compelling former White House counsel Don McGahn’s testimony
The Nation—July 23
How John Paul Stevens Surprised Us
As one of his clerks, David Pozen, now a Columbia law professor, put it: Because Justice Stevens never committed to any distinct brand of jurisprudence or theory of the judicial role, his place in history will have to rest on an evaluation of how he applied his judgment in scores upon scores of individual cases—whether he did so fairly and wisely, or unsatisfyingly and imprudently, whether his decisions advanced or arrested the cause of legality, liberty, and justice. He wouldn’t have it any other way.
New York City might ban wireless companies from selling your location data
Bernard Harcourt, a Columbia University professor of law and political science, called the bill a major inroad for city regulation of privacy. The entire business model of these companies depend on selling our data for digital advertising, so until their business model changes, there is no reason to take them at their word," Harcourt said.
'They Dragged Their Feet': Con Ed's Plan For Heat Waves Is Years Behind Schedule
Instead, the state’s Public Service Department approved a new timeline giving Con Ed until the end of this year to turn in the finished report to the state, according to John Chirlin, a spokesman for the department. “They dragged their feet,” said Mike Gerrard, the director of Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University, one of the groups that originally petitioned New York State to require Con Edison to plan for climate change after Sandy.
Bloomberg News—July 25
Texas Avoids Federal Oversight of Redistricting (Podcast)
Richard Briffault, a professor at Columbia Law School, discusses why Texas won’t have to get federal approval before making changes to its voter maps under a new ruling by a federal appeals court, deespite findings of intentional discrimination. He speaks to Bloomberg’s June Grasso.
Surrogacy Makes the Body a Worksite
Both American surrogacy and American feminism have evolved since the ’80s. A Columbia Law School report on surrogacy found that, due to advancements in IVF, 95 percent of today’s surrogates are not genetically related to the fetus they’re carrying, and the resulting baby is likely to be the genetic offspring its intended parents.
The Guardian—July 26
War on science: Trump administration muzzles climate experts, critics say
Lauren Kurtz – who is tracking evidence of censorship for a database by the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law and Climate Science Legal Defense Fund – said it extends beyond the climate crisis, to pesticide safety and reproductive health. Kurtz said the 105 public incidences of censorship the groups found are “part of a larger trend of disputing scientific realities for political reasons”.
The Week—July 26
52 ideas that changed the world - 7. Feminism
Although the previous waves tended to centre on the experience of white, straight, middle-class women, the third wave includes sub-movements such as sex positive feminism, black feminism, eco-feminism, and - perhaps most notably - intersectional feminism. This final term, coined by feminist academic Kimberle Crenshaw in 1989, refers to the way in which sexism can be experienced in tandem with other forms of discrimination, such as racism or homophobia.
[Note: Crenshaw and her work on intersectionality were also referenced in media outlets including Forbes, Medium, and One World.]
The Guardian—July 27
The disinformation age: a revolution in propaganda
What we are seeing is, in the words of Columbia law professor Tim Wu, a situation where “speech itself is seen as a censorial weapon”. This questions the old idea that the answer to “fallacious speech” is “more speech” – that we live in a “marketplace of ideas” where the best “information products” will win out. What if that market can be rigged?
Case Tests Limits On Puerto Ricans' Access To Benefits
Congress has always treated territories differently, and a number of U.S. Supreme Court decisions have signed off on this treatment, according to Columbia Law School professor Christina Ponsa-Kraus, an expert in the constitutional issues of the American territories. “These arguments do have a chance now in a way they haven’t before, but I think it’s a long shot,” she said. “There is a historic relationship between racism and a differential treatment of the territories that courts and all of us are more able to recognize these days, but I think the court will be hesitant to say Congress has less power over the territories than we thought.”
"Google, Facebook or Amazon have become a threat to democracy," says Tim Wu in his book The Curse of Bigness: Antitrust in the New Gilded Age. This professor of law at Columbia University and an expert in technology and competition policy issues also advocates returning to the years of antitrust laws that prevailed in the US until the late 1980s. . . . But Facebook "is not a free platform," clarifies Forbes Lina Khan, an American lawyer who is an expert on antitrust and competition issues. "We may not pay with money, but all the data it collects has a lot of value."
Cops in Arizona Tried a PR Stunt and It Backfired Horribly
"I'm still a bit dubious about this 'consensual' prong," said Jeffrey Fagan, a professor of law at Columbia University and leading national expert on "stop and frisk" policing. "Very little is consensual in police-citizen interactions. Even overtly consensual interactions have elements of implicit coercion to them."
U.S. News & World Report—July 30
Agencies Prep for Climate Change Despite Hostility From Trump
"Throughout the federal government, there are career employees who are dedicated to making sure that the infrastructure or facilities for which they're responsible don't drown and working to take precautions even if they need to speak in whispers," says Michael Gerrard, a professor and director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School. "Thankfully the climate-denying tentacles of the White House have not so permeated the bureaucracies that they've halted all constructive work."
Associated Press—July 31
Tweet could get Elon Musk in trouble with regulators _ again
It doesn’t appear that Musk talked to the attorney, because any securities lawyer would have recommended including “meaningful cautionary statements” about why the forecast may not come true, said John Coffee Jr., a Columbia University law professor. “This again expresses the stupidity of not talking to counsel,” said Coffee. “You can protect predictions by putting some meaningful cautionary statements round them.”
[Note: This article appeared in numerous media outlets worldwide.]
YES! Magazine—July 31
Will Banning Single-Family Zoning Make for More Affordable Homes?
In 2006, Columbia University law professor Kimberlé Crenshaw, who coined the term “intersectionality,” wrote in the University of Michigan Law Review, “The primary beneficiaries of affirmative action have been Euro-American women.”
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This report, which gets posted online as well, shares mentions of Law School faculty cited in print, broadcast, and online news outlets. It is not intended to be inclusive of every media mention. Faculty members who are featured in the media are encouraged to send their clips to [email protected] for possible inclusion in our Clip Report. Faculty members seeking assistance in placing an op-ed, promoting scholarship, facilitating interviews, event coverage, or media training, may email us at [email protected] or call us at 212-854-2650.