Faculty In The News
Columbia Law School Clip Report, January 16–31, 2020
The New York Times—January 16
The Carlos Ghosn Case Puts Japan’s Legal System on Trial
By Nobuhisa Ishizuka
In the 13 months between the arrest of Carlos Ghosn, the former chief executive of Nissan, and his fleeing Japan amid allegations of improper compensation and misuse of corporate assets, the Japanese criminal justice system has been put under a microscope.
[Note: Ishizuka, an alumnus of Columbia Law, is executive director of the Center for Japanese Legal Studies and a lecturer at the Law School.]
Bloomberg News | Environment & Energy Report—January 16
Legal Scholars, White House Spar Over Environmental Permitting Bid
Michael Gerrard, a professor of environmental, climate change and energy law at Columbia University, said the proposal also creates several potential loopholes for projects to slip through so that they don’t require National Environmental Policy Act analysis.
Crain’s New York Business—January 16
Electric bills will increase more than 4% this year following Con Ed rate hike approval
A plan from Consolidated Edison to raise rates on electric and gas over the next years was approved Thursday by the state Public Service Commission, despite the protests of environmental and consumer groups. . . . The Mayor’s Office of Sustainability, Columbia University’s Sabin Center for Climate Change and the Natural Resources Defense Council all signed off on the plan. The NRDC, however, provided its approval only the electric increases and spending, not the natural gas proposal.
The Buffalo News—January 16
Ahead of Chris Collins' Friday sentencing, experts say prison time awaits
"Judges who are ex-prosecutors act a little bit more harshly than people who had no prior exposure to the criminal justice system," noted John C. Coffee Jr., director of the Center on Corporate Governance at Columbia University Law School.
Trump Admin Ordered ‘Climate Censorship’ in Plans to Lease Texas Public Lands for Fossil Fuel Extraction
The Trump administration has deleted references to climate change from government documents or websites at least 184 times, the Houston Chronicle reported based on the work of the "Silencing Science Tracker" run by the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University.
Her Sorority Sisters Suspected She Was Pregnant. What Did Emile Weaver Know?
While safe haven sites do get used, their national implementation hasn’t curbed neonaticide in the way supporters hoped it would, in part because they’re logistically challenging for the population particularly vulnerable to neonaticide. “How does a mother get from the locked bathroom in her parents’ house to the safe haven without being seen or without the infant being heard?” law professor Carol Sanger writes in the Columbia Law Review. “Does she take a bus or subway or borrow the family car? What does she use to transport the baby?”
The New York Times—January 16
An Impeachment Trial That Could Unfold Out of Public View
“There is clearly strong precedent for the use of secrecy in at least some phases of the deliberation,” said David Pozen, a law professor at Columbia Law School who has studied the issue. “That seems eminently defensible as long as it is buffered by transparency at the outset about the charge and transparency at the back end about the ultimate outcome.”
Weg für Impeachment ist frei: Die wichtigsten Antworten zum Prozess gegen Trump (German)
The fact that Trump had the US military aid disbursed and that the Ukrainian President Selenski publicly denied that Trump had urged him is also problematic from the Democrats' perspective. Professor Richard Briffault of Columbia Law School in New York, on the other hand, sees “undoubtedly strong evidence” of White House attempts to put pressure on the Ukrainian government.
CQ Researcher—January 17
Michael Doyle, a political scientist at Columbia University, agrees the global response has been inadequate. “Migrants have not been vilified in these ways since the 1920s,” he says. “The refugee system is failing to respond to the needs of millions.”
McClatchy DC—January 17
Trump’s school prayer rules show ‘radical approach’ to rights, law expert says
Columbia University professor Katherine Franke criticized President Donald Trump’s new guidance on prayer in schools, saying it reinforces the administration’s “extremely radical approach to fundamental rights.”
[Note: This article was published in numerous media outlets.]
Nonprofit Quarterly—January 17
Fear of Donors Leads to Cancelled Art Showing
The potential loss of even a smaller donor’s support was great enough for Harvard’s leadership to make a change that, as Katherine Franke, a law professor at Columbia Law School, described, tampered with the learning culture of the school. “This kind of influence will have a chilling effect, to be sure, on the kinds of things students feel comfortable saying,” she said, “We should celebrate robust discussions about the most difficult issues of the day, including viewpoints that might make us uncomfortable.”
The New York Times—January 17
Court Quashes Youth Climate Change Case Against Government
Michael B. Gerrard, the director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University, called the decision “a disappointment but not a surprise.” He said that “Many U.S. judges have vigorously enforced the environmental laws written by Congress but won’t go beyond that.”
[Note: Amid news concerning the case Juliana v. United States, Gerrard was also quoted in CBSNews.com, InsideClimate News, and Time Magazine.]
The Washington Post—January 18
Okla. senators want MAGA license plates — which might violate federal campaign finance rules
“These are political slogans,” said Richard Briffault, a professor at Columbia Law School. “This has the look and feel of using state resources to support a political candidate, which seems improper . . . and possibly illegal.”
[Note: Briffault’s comments appeared in multiple media outlets.]
Supreme Court could use 'Bridgegate' case to limit attempts to prosecute corruption
By Jennifer Rodgers
The defendants argued, in essence, that politicians lie all the time about the motivations behind their decisions, and virtually every governmental decision involves some use of public resources, so criminalizing that behavior goes too far and would make too much conduct illegal. And on Tuesday, multiple justices indicated during the oral argument that they may agree. There are many reasons we should all find that troubling.
[Note: Rodgers is a lecturer at the law school and serves on the advisory board of the Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity.]
Los Angeles Times—January 20
MLK Day: Thousands turn out across L.A. for ‘a special day to remember a special person’
Another panelist, Kimberlé Crenshaw, a law professor at UCLA and Columbia University, told the crowd that she was 10 years old when King was assassinated in 1968. The next day, Crenshaw recalled, she and several other students were corralled into a church, where volunteers asked them if they had anything they wanted to share about King. . . . “We must follow his footsteps,” Crenshaw remembers saying, adding that, in the years since, much of her research has been guided by King’s legacy.
The New York Times—January 21
‘I Was Wrong,’ Bloomberg Says. But This Policy Still Haunts Him.
“Stops became the lingua franca of the department; this was the way that police officers gained currency,” said Jeffrey Fagan, a Columbia Law School professor who was an expert witness in the 2013 case.
The New York Times—January 21
Sheldon Silver’s Corruption Conviction Is Partly Overturned
Berit Berger, executive director of the Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity at Columbia Law School, said: “Ultimately, the circuit is saying they need more specificity from the government, and that’s not a terrible thing. It will put defendants and the public on notice about the details of the corrupt exchange and what benefit the public official was offering in exchange for the bribe.”
The Print—January 21
Saving the Constitution is a battle cry & Madhav Khosla’s book lays bare the founding moment
Madhav Khosla’s India’s Founding Moment sees the Constitution as a tool that built a civic culture in Independent India. The book is a guide to understand the document that continues to act as India’s powerful glue and influences the behaviour of its citizens.
[Note: Khosla is the B.R. Ambedkar Visiting Associate Professor of Indian Constitutional Law. Reviews of his book, India’s Founding Moment: The Constitution of a Most Surprising Democracy, also appeared in the Hindustan Times and Mint.]
Religious wars: With the Christian right on the offensive, activists are fighting back
In November, the Law, Rights, and Religion Project at Columbia Law School released a report, "Whose Faith Matters? The Fight for Religious Liberty Beyond the Christian Right," which provides a comprehensive account of the wide range of contexts "in which people of faith engaged in humanitarian and social justice work have fought for the right to exercise their religion."
The Washington Post—January 21
Dershowitz calls CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Jeffrey Toobin ‘bullies’ as they question him on impeachment flip-flop
Almost all the law professors who have researched the matter have concluded that the answer is no — no crime necessary. It’s been the overwhelming consensus, impeachment scholar Philip C. Bobbitt of the Columbia Law School told The Washington Post on Monday.
[Note: Amid news concerning the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump, Bobbitt was also quoted in The Boston Globe, CBC News, The Hill, The Independent, Lawfare, Süddeutsche Zeitung, Time Magazine, and The Washington Post.]
The Washington Post—January 21
The Energy 202: Youth climate lawsuit dismissal shows challenge of using courts to tackle climate change
"From the outset, it was a big ask," said Michael Burger, executive director of Columbia Law School's Sabin Center for Climate Change Law, adding the panel of federal appeals court judges in the case ruled “courts simply do not have it in their power in the United States to command the entire energy system."
Impeachment-Showdown im Senat (German)
The president justified his refusal as a protection of government secrets. Therefore, there can be no question of a “obstruction of Congress”. Columbia Law School professor Richard Briffault, on the other hand, sees “undoubtedly strong evidence” of White House attempts to put pressure on the Ukrainian government.
Svenska Dagbladet—January 21
Professor: ”Ska ej vara lätt att avsätta en president” (Swedish)
Dismissing a president is a serious matter, and it should not be easy, says Richard Briffault, a professor of law at Columbia University.
Argument analysis: Justices debate ability of business that did not sign arbitration agreement to compel arbitration
By Ronald Mann
This was a hard argument to interpret, but it seems likely to result in a sharply divided court. Roberts and Ginsburg, for example, seemed least inclined to sign on to a decision allowing GE France to force Outokumpu into arbitration. On the other hand, Sotomayor and Gorsuch appeared to find GE France’s efforts to arbitrate quite sensible, and certainly a topic on which they would tolerate lower-court exploration.
Business Insider—January 22
Sustainable capitalism requires 'outside-the-box' thinking and systemic change, panelists say at WEF in Davos
The panel, titled "Stakeholder Capitalism: How to Enable Long-Term Investing," . . . featured Columbia Law School professor Katharina Pistor . . . "When you look at the hardwiring of the system, it's really the law that hardwires the system. A corporation can be written in hard law in different ways, but it has been written in a particular way, especially in the US and the UK," Pistor said. "And that basically means that shareholder value does trump, in the end."
[Note: Pistor and her remarks at the World Economic Forum were also referenced in Diginomica, Digital Policy News, the Economic Times, El Expresso Puerto Rico, and the Irish Times.]
London Evening Standard—January 22
We face an evolving threat — the PM’s anti-terror laws recognise this truth
As the US constitutional historian, Philip Bobbitt, writes in his masterly book, Terror and Consent, the threat is constantly mutating, seeking fresh vulnerabilities, “like new antibiotic-resistant strains of tuberculosis”.
New Statesman—January 22
Corbyn adviser Andrew Murray on what’s next for the left
As the US political theorist Jedediah Britton-Purdy has recently argued, we might be entering an age of barbarism, a political system that “keeps people in the dark and gives them no way out. A system, that is, that makes the world as it is both inescapable and unintelligible.”
The New York Times—January 22
Michael I. Sovern, Who Led Columbia in Eventful Era, Dies at 88
Michael I. Sovern, an ebullient law professor who as president of Columbia University during the 1980s and ’90s shored up the school’s finances, brought about divestment from companies doing business in South Africa and opened Columbia College to women, died on Monday in Manhattan.
Columbia Daily Spectator—January 22
Michael Sovern, president emeritus and Chancellor Kent professor of law, has died
Michael Sovern, the president emeritus of Columbia University and Chancellor Kent professor of law, passed away on Monday afternoon, according to an email sent by University President Lee Bollinger.
The Washington Post—January 23
Michael Sovern, legal scholar and unifying force at Columbia University, dies at 88
Michael I. Sovern, a legal scholar who became the youngest full professor in Columbia University’s modern history and led his school through a tumultuous period in the 1980s and ’90s, stabilizing its finances and opening the college to women, died Jan. 20 at a hospital in Manhattan.
Just Security—January 23
What Sort of “Abuse of Power” Would Amount to an Impeachable Offense?
By Philip Bobbitt
It wasn’t simply that President Trump in his conversations with the Ukrainian president attempted to entice a “favor” that might prove helpful in Trump’s campaign for reelection. Rather it was what the president did to get that favor: the refusal of the president to disburse congressionally authorized military assistance is a violation of law that strikes at the heart of Constitutional government.
[Note: Bobbitt’s article was quoted in multiple media outlets.]
The New York Times | Opinion—January 23
The Revolution Comes to Davos
By Tim Wu
Yet if Davos truly wants to redirect the ship of global capitalism, it should find some way to better reward actual do-gooders, as distinguished from the posers. It is just too easy to free ride at Davos: to talk the talk, adopt a few cute pet projects, and let that be it.
The American Conservative–January 23
How To Truly Take Down The Monopoly Man
A growing chorus is warning of the dangers of monopolies. Over the past two years, we have seen a flowering of new writing on monopolies and antitrust that challenges the status quo. A few of the most notable examples are:
• Tim Wu’s The Curse of Bigness is a short, but powerful history of antitrust.
• Lina Khan wrote a highly influential law review piece “Amazon’s Antitrust Paradox.”
[Note: Khan is an academic fellow at Columbia Law School.]
BBC News—January 23
What does Trump actually believe on climate change?
"He doesn't really understand what climate change is about," says Professor Michael Gerrard, an environmental law professor at the University of Columbia.
Climate Home News—January 23
Oslo court backs Arctic oil exploration in defeat for environmentalists
There are now 1,143 climate lawsuits in the US s and 319 cases in other nations, according to databases maintained by the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School and Arnold & Porter.
Diminishing Returns: Calculated Misery in Air Travel
Managing such misery is hardly original, though Tim Wu of Columbia Law School can be credited for giving a good overview of it when writing in 2014 for The New Yorker. “Here’s the thing: in order for fees to work, there needs to be something worth paying to avoid. That necessitates, at some level, a strategy that can be described as ‘calculated misery’. Basic service, without fees, must be sufficiently degraded in order to make people want to pay to escape it. And that’s where the suffering begins.”
France 24—January 23
Davos Debate: Tackling the digital tax dilemma (Video)
Can a new global plan on how best to tax the digital economy succeed, without sparking a trade war? FRANCE 24’s business editor Stephen Carroll discusses the moral and practical issues at stake with French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurria, Transparency International chief Delia Ferreira Rubio and Columbia Law School professor Katharina Pistor.
Breaking Down Michael Avenatti's Nike Extortion Trial
Jennifer Rodgers, a Columbia Law School lecturer and former Southern District of New York prosecutor, said it is a huge boon for the prosecution that Nike’s lawyers got in touch with government agents after their first meeting with Avenatti — and thus were using recording devices at their subsequent meetings.
The New York Review Of Books—January 23
How ‘Big Law’ Makes Big Money
It was the lawyers, in other words, who kept England’s landed elite so very, well, elite: who shielded and extended the wealth of the landowners, even granting them legal protection against their own creditors. How did they pull off this trick? Through a nimble tangle of contracts, carefully and complicatedly applied, as Katharina Pistor explains in her lucid new book, The Code of Capital . . .
The Times of India—January 24
Protect right to privacy: Petition to make social media traceable strips the privacy right of all meaning
By Mishi Choudhary and Eben Moglen
A current proceeding earlier before the Madras high court but now transferred to the Supreme Court of India threatens fundamental harm to the freedom of expression on the internet, not only in India but elsewhere in the world. The pending petition seeks to require that Facebook make all WhatsApp messages traceable to their originator through the linkage of identity information (mobile phone or, perhaps, Aadhaar numbers) to all messages exchanged.
Social Media Posts Spread Bogus Coronavirus Conspiracy Theory
In a phone interview, Columbia law professor Harold Edgar told us that following a U.S. Supreme Court case decided in 2013, U.S. patent law no longer allows for patents on viral sequences as they exist in nature.
The Atlantic—January 26
Who Is an Indian?
By Madhav Khosla
. . . it is worth asking whether, as India’s founders felt, the ultimate solution will be found not in some ideal pact among communities but rather in a system where one is treated as an individual. That is, an arrangement in which Indians would not be seen as simply members of a particular community, be it a religion or caste. This is hard to achieve, and requires constant political work.
[Note: Amid news concerning the passage of the Citizenship Amendment Act by the Indian Parliament, Khosla was also quoted in BBC News, the Business Standard, DW, Financial Express, the Hindustan Times, The Indian Express, NDTV, Scroll.in, The Siasat Daily.]
Associated Press—January 26
Simmons doc, sans Oprah, receives huge ovation at Sundance
Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, an attorney and civil rights advocate, after the film alluded to the history of black women who have accused public figures of assault, citing the treatment of Anita Hill and Desiree Washington, who accused Mike Tyson of rape. “You’ve seen this film. The question is will anyone else see it?” Crenshaw said. “So whatever can be brought to bear to make sure that this doesn’t get snuffed out — think of all the history of what has already happened and say never again.”
[Note: This article appeared in numerous media outlets nationwide.]
Perjury Scandal Can’t Blot Out Prosecutor’s Conspiracy Claim
Carmody, who declined to comment for this story, convened a grand jury and obtained a 30-page, six-count indictment charging Tisaby with criminal perjury. The indictment is unusually detailed and lengthy, according to Jennifer Rodgers, a lecturer-in-law at Columbia Law School and the former director of the school’s Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity.
Financial Times—January 27
The Brussels Effect, by Anu Bradford
Anu Bradford, a professor at Columbia University, originally coined the term “Brussels effect” and has been studying it for several years. Her impressive book assembles evidence going back decades, tracing its development from the “Reach” chemicals regulation, developed in the early 2000s, to the digital age.
Hindustan Times—January 27
The Constitution at 70 | The Big Picture (Video)
On January 26, India marked the 70th anniversary of the adoption of the Constitution. . . . How has the Constitution fared since? To discuss this, Madhav Khosla - who teaches at Columbia and Ashoka Universities and is the author of a remarkable new book, India’s Founding Moment: The Constitution of a Most Surprising Democracy - joins this edition of The Big Picture.
[Note: Amid celebrations for Republic Day in India, Khosla was also quoted or referenced in The Economic Times, Firstpost, The Hindu, the Hindustan Times, The Indian Express, Livemint, The Times of India, and The Wire.]
KELO-TV (Sioux Falls, SD)—January 27
Why most surrogacy could become a crime in South Dakota
Using an agency is commonplace in the United States, helping couples who cannot have children due to infertility, or disability and same-sex couples. The agency model basically provides recruiting, assessing and selecting a surrogate, according to a Columbia Law School report on the legal issues surrounding surrogacy.
Bloomberg Law News—January 28
Peter Pan Growing Up Stirs Legal Gray Area; Mickey Up Soon
Getting around Dastar will be difficult but not impossible, Columbia University intellectual property law professor June Besek said. Potential defendants would have to consider the trademark owner’s willingness to litigate into the gray area of the law, she said. “Characters that have stayed in the public eye, these kinds of cases will come up over and over again. It will be interesting,” Besek said. “The first few cases will be determinative.”
[Note: Besek is the executive director of the Kernochan Center for Law, Media, and the Arts and a lecturer at the Law School.]
Daily Dicta: White Collar Dream Team Suggests Fix for Insider Trading Laws
Two prominent securities law professors, Columbia Law School’s John Coffee, Jr. and Stanford Law School professor Joseph Grundfest, offer the academic perspective.
[Note: Amid news concerning the task force on insider trading led by former federal prosecutor Preet Bharara ’93, Coffee was referenced in multiple media outlets nationwide.]
How increased citizenship fees could make life harder for immigrants and their communities
Elora Mukherjee, director of Columbia University’s Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, said that any increase to the application fee would be a targeted, strategic move. “It is one of a myriad number of efforts that seek to make immigration benefits in the United States dependent on a person’s access to wealth,” she said.
Tichys Einblick—January 28
Ende der Massenproduktion? (German)
In 1985, a study by the American economist Michael J. Piore and the social scientist Charles Sabel caused a sensation in the professional world. Under the German title “The End of Mass Production,” for developed industrialized countries, they predicted the replacement of the standardized mass production started by Henry Ford over a hundred years ago by "diversified quality production" according to customer requirements.
Hindustan Times—January 29
Republic at 70: How Ambedkar, Constituent Assembly dealt with the caste conundrum
By Madhav Khosla
It was one thing to argue for the eradication of caste, quite another to propose how it might be done. Here, as I argue in a new book India’s Founding Moment, we can locate two themes in Ambedkar’s thought. First, there was a sense that the protection to be granted to lower-caste groups would at least partly turn on the nature of the franchise that they had been granted. . . . The second theme was the belief that no constitutional schema could be silent on the question of caste.
The City—January 29
TWO BROOKLYN SCHOOLS SET TO ‘MERGE’ FOR INTEGRATION, SPACE
“It’s something that I think needs attention so that parents in the P.S 305 zone have access after the merger,” said Arlen Benjamin-Gomez, the senior director at the Center for Public Research and Leadership at Columbia University, which has been advising the state Department of Education on school integration efforts. “Without really thinking that through, then the merger can be an expansion of Arts & Letters rather than an effort to increase integration in this district, and to make sure students in that old zone have access to high-quality schools.”
[Note: This article also appeared on Bkylner and Chalkbeat.]
Financial Times—January 29
Make the punishment fit the white collar crime
“It’s extremely difficult to make a case against the senior executives because they don’t get involved in operational issues. But they can put extreme pressure on the lower echelons to cut costs or hit targets,” says John Coffee, a Columbia law professor.
The New York Times—January 29
7 Reasons Recycling Isn’t Working in New York City
The workers know, he said, that many of the lightly regulated transfer stations where they take recyclables often remix them with garbage anyway. . . . And it could take longer to undo the impression made on restaurant workers and office tenants who know about the remixing, said Michael B. Gerrard, director of the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia University. “They become discouraged and stop bothering to separate their garbage in the first place,” Mr. Gerrard said.
The Philadelphia Inquirer—January 29
What’s driving the big law firm mergers in Philly and across the U.S.?
"Both mergers were efforts by non-East coast firms to acquire a base in the Northeast, which is the home of financial services, " said John C. Coffee, director of the Center on Corporate Governance at Columbia University Law School. “In each case, the non-Philadelphia firm was larger and had recently been more successful. While they may call it a merger of equals, I am skeptical that there will be equality in either case.”
Bloomberg News—January 30
Use of Taxpayer Money for Religious Schools Is Tested (Audio)
Katherine Franke, a professor at Columbia Law School, discusses a religious-school aid case that divided the Supreme Court justices during oral arguments.
Le Monde—January 30
Brexit : risques d’affaiblissement européen aux Nations unies (French)
“The British will conduct several negotiations at once,” says Anu Bradford, a law professor at Columbia University. “And with 50% of their exports going to European countries, the trade agreement with the EU will be more important than that negotiated with Washington - where ultimately they only export 15% of their goods.”
BBC | Worklife—January 31
How to reduce 'attention residue' in your life
Many of us struggle with the never-ending nature of our to-do lists, explains Elizabeth Emens, author of The Art of Life Admin and a New York-based professor of law at Columbia University. “A large part of why we feel overwhelmed is that life admin is endless and invisible,” she says. “We all have different types of admin that might not be recognisable to someone else – so they don't know what we are doing or that it is overwhelming.”
Financial Times—January 31
Best books of the week
The Brussels Effect — the EU’s underrated power in the world
What if a mild-mannered economic superpower was shaping the world economy, and most people didn’t notice? This definitive guide demonstrates how, in the face of US and Chinese might, the EU has increasingly set the rules on trade and regulation
The Authoritarian Arguments for Trump’s Acquittal
In other words, as Jamal Greene has pointed out, Dershowitz is confusing the “category of impeachable offenses” with the category of “things over which a president should be impeached.”
NJ Spotlight—January 31
Federal Regulator Supports Gas Pipeline Builder in Appeal to SCOTUS
“The only thing FERC’s view clarified was that the commission is willing to go to bat for private pipeline companies over the public interest,’’ said Jennifer Danis, senior staff attorney at Columbia University Law School’s Environmental Law Clinic, representing the New Jersey Conservation Foundation in the case.
[Note: Danis’s statement was referenced in multiple media outlets.]
Los Angeles Review of Books—January 31
They Are Not Your Fiduciaries: Talking to David Pozen
When should we think of “free-of-charge” platform firms as con artists? When should our concerns about Big Tech data-surveilling business models and monopolistic corporate practices stretch far beyond that? When I want to ask such questions, I pose them to David Pozen. This present conversation focuses on Pozen’s recent Harvard Law Review article (co-written with Lina Khan) “A Skeptical View of Information Fiduciaries.” Pozen, a professor at Columbia Law School, teaches and writes about constitutional law and information law, among other topics
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