Harvard Law School's oldest policy journal.

Category: Featured Items

Student Blog: Student Loan Debt: Expansion of Borrowers Rights?

Posted on February 12th, by nrupkey in Featured Items, Student Commentary. 13 comments

By Kellen Wittkop, HLS Class of 2016 –

College students navigate a constant balancing act of managing the many stresses that accompany enrollment at any institution of higher learning: classes, activities, job searches, etc. But one of the largest causes of anxiety for students is something that often looms largely in the shadows – debt. According to American Student Assistance, a non-profit organization that promotes itself as a “nonprofit you can rely on for neutral, honest student loan solutions,” of the approximate 20 million students in attendance each year, 60% (12 million) of those students borrow annually to cover costs of their education. Estimates from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the Consumer Finance Protection Bureau (CFPB) put outstanding student loan debt in the range of $902 billion to $1 trillion. See full statistics here.

Some members of Congress have recognized this problem and have taken action. In late December 2013, a group of Democratic senators – led in large part by former Harvard Law professor Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. – announced a package of bills aimed largely at giving student loan borrowers greater rights, now officially titled the “Student Loan Borrower Bill of Rights” (see http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d113:s1803: for full text … Read More »

2014 Symposium – Drug Policy: Reality and Reform – Feb. 11-12

Posted on February 5th, by nrupkey in Campus Events, Featured Items, Symposium, Upcoming Events. No Comments


Join the Journal on Legislation for its annual Symposium, “Drug Policy: Reality and Reform.” There will be two panels, which will consist of short speeches, debate between panelists, and a question and answer session. Panera lunch will be provided at both panels!

The first panel discussion, held on Tuesday, February 11th at 12 noon in WCC 1015, will focus on the relationship between drug policies and mass incarceration. The speakers on the first panel will be:

Barbara Dougan, Massachusetts Project Director at Families Against Mandatory Minimums (FAMM)
Nancy Gertner, Professor of Practice at Harvard Law School
Mark Osler, Professor of Law at University of St. Thomas Law School
John Pfaff, Associate Professor of Law at Fordham Law School

The second panel discussion, held on Wednesday, February 12th at 12 noon in WCC 1015, will focus on the possibility of ending marijuana prohibition. The speakers on the second panel will be:

Senator John Keenan, Massachusetts State Senator for the Norfolk and Plymouth district
Ethan Nadelmann, Founder and Executive Director of the Drug Policy Alliance
Charles “Cully” Stimson, Senior Legal Fellow at the Heritage Foundation

We will also be showing “The House I Live in” on February 11th at 5 p.m. in WCC 2009, and dinner will be provided. Please join these … Read More »

Student Blog: I Spy: The Problems with NSA Overreach

Posted on February 5th, by nrupkey in Featured Items, Student Commentary. No Comments

By Tyler Anderson, HLS Class of 2014 –

Over the past several months, Congress has generated considerable outrage regarding the NSA’s collection of data from foreign officials. http://www.lawfareblog.com/2013/10/skepticism-about-supposed-white-house-and-intelligence-committees-ignorance-about-nsa-collection-against-allied-leaders/. Some of this criticism is surely deserved; for example, we recently learned that the NSA spied on Ban Ki-moon’s talking points before Ban’s meeting with President Obama to discuss, among other things, global climate change, http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/03/world/no-morsel-too-minuscule-for-all-consuming-nsa.html?pagewanted=1&nl=todaysheadlines&emc=edit_th_20131103 — Moon is not the sort of existential threat toward which the NSA should be dedicating its resources.

Nevertheless, the outrage generated by international spying domestically – and particularly by Congress – largely misses the problems generated by NSA surveillance that is both secret and expansive.  Here, the history of intelligence surveillance reform is instructive. The original Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments Act (FAA) strongly distinguished between surveillance conducted on foreigners compared to surveillance conducted on Americans. See Tyler C. Anderson, Toward Institutional Reform of Intelligence Surveillance: A Proposal to Amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, 8.2 Harv. L. & Pol. Rev. __ (2014) (forthcoming). While some of this tailoring is due to Constitutional (primarily 4th Amendment) constraints, it is important to remember that Congress put the policy of limiting surveillance … Read More »

Student Blog: Smoke and Mirrors: Employer Justification for Smoker Discrimination

Posted on February 5th, by nrupkey in Featured Items, Student Commentary. 2 comments

By Jenna Tynan, HLS Class of 2016 –

Imagine you’re a first-year associate and after your standard fourteen-hour workday, you sit back and indulge in a product recently found more addictive than cocaine: the iconic Oreo.  You rush back to work the next morning with a wayward Oreo stain on your favorite blazer only to end yet another long day…with a pink slip!?!  You violated the firm’s categorical ban on Oreo consumption promulgated to reduce diabetic healthcare costs believed to rise with sugar consumption.  Luckily for this author, no employer has banned recreational Oreo consumption, but America’s over 43 million smokers aren’t so fortunate. Healthcare industries, city municipalities and airlines have banned hiring prospective candidates who smoke or use tobacco products citing controlling costs and presenting a “healthy” image for their rationale.  These employers may be justified in their decision given the new “tax” for not proving health benefits to all employees. However, employer regulation, and especially government employer regulation, of what happens in an employee’s home seems to conflict with those penumbral privacy rights cherished and protected by our judicial system.

As a result, twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have enacted “smoker protection laws,” which prohibit various forms … Read More »

Student Blog: The impact of the Affordable Care Act on Drug Trafficking

Posted on November 20th, by nrupkey in Featured Items, Student Commentary. No Comments

By Colin Ross, HLS Class of 2016 –

Forget the Tea Party – it’s international drug traffickers who truly fear the successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act.  The law of supply and demand makes it clear why. Traffickers service, and help create, the American demand for illegal drugs such as cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine. In 2010, about 1 million Americans suffered from cocaine dependence or abuse; about 350,000 suffered similarly from heroin. Those customers send a steady stream of cash that keeps traffickers well-armed, equipped, and funded. We see the devastating effects of that cash flow when traffickers fight their rivals in bloody battles on Mexican streets or brazenly assassinate top prosecutors in Honduras.

No one could fault the United States for lacking enthusiasm in combatting the international drug trade.  But that enthusiasm is usually directed at drug supply—arrests, interdictions, seizures, Miami Vice. Squeezing supply can keep demand in check by making drugs far more expensive and far less accessible than they would be in a legal market—and it has. But the remaining demand is large enough to keep the traffickers prosperous. But were this persistent customer base to begin to erode, traffickers would be in trouble.

Meanwhile, in the hallowed … Read More »