Martha Nussbaum

I’ve already shared with you my views on the burqa (views that weren’t popular with some of our more politically correct and/or sensitive readers). And you’ve already voted in a reader poll on efforts to ban the burqa, showing that 60 percent of you are wimps do not support France’s effort to ban the burqa.

Now some law professors have weighed in on the burqa ban. In a piece earlier this month for the Opinionator blog of the New York Times, University of Chicago law professor Martha Nussbaum offered a thoughtful critique of the burqa ban.

Over the weekend, two other prominent law professors — Richard Epstein, Nussbaum’s colleague at U. Chicago, and John Yoo, of Berkeley — jumped into the fray….

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Foreign Policy magazine Top 100 public intellectuals.jpgIn the current issue of Foreign Policy magazine, you’ll find their list of the world’s top 100 public intellectuals. The list appears here (and you can vote for your top five). Bios of the honorees — and we must confess, some of these names didn’t ring a bell — appear here.

The public intellectuals explicitly identified on the list as lawyers, judges, or legal scholars are (in alphabetical order):

Aitzaz Ahsan, president of Pakistan’s Supreme Court Bar Association, and a leader in the Pakistan People’s Party;

Shirin Ebadi, the Iranian human rights lawyer and Nobel laureate;

– Stanford law professor Lawrence Lessig; and

Judge Richard Posner of the Seventh Circuit, who wrote the book on public intellectuals.

And here are two other honorees with legal links:

– University of Chicago law professor and philosopher Martha Nussbaum; and

– journalist, Harvard Law School graduate, and Kennedy School of Government professor Samantha Power.

Cass Sunstein Martha Nussbaum Samantha Power Above the Law blog.jpgWhat do Professors Nussbaum and Power share in common? Cass Sunstein, as you may recall.

Professor Nussbaum is a former flame of Professor Sunstein, while Professor Power is his current main squeeze. Rumor has it that his move to Harvard Law School from his longtime academic home, the University of Chicago Law School, was prompted by a desire to be closer to the center of power — Samantha Power, that is.

In their paper Six Degrees of Cass Sunstein: Collaboration Networks in Legal Scholarship, Professors Paul Edelman and Tracey George declared Cass Sunstein to be the “Kevin Bacon” of the law. But it looks like his influence extends beyond the narrow world of legal academia, into the World of Ideas, writ large.

In sum, two percent of the world’s top 100 public intellectuals are former or current lovers of Cass Sunstein. This should provide consolation for Cass, who didn’t make the list himself.

Professor Sunstein, you are the man.

The Top 100 Public Intellectuals [Foreign Policy]

The Top 100 Public Intellectuals: Bios [Foreign Policy]

Six Degrees of Cass Sunstein: Collaboration Networks in Legal Scholarship [SSRN / Green Bag]

Earlier: The Real Reason Cass Sunstein’s Going to Harvard? He’s Got the Power

Samantha Power 2 Cass Sunstein Kennedy School of Government Above the Law blog.JPGWe greatly enjoyed our recent visit to the University of Chicago Law School. The U. Chicago students were very welcoming and made us feel right at home, even inviting us to their law school musical — which, by the way, was delightful.
(We added many of them as friends on Facebook before we were mysteriously banned from the site, without notice or explanation. So if you no longer see us on FB, it’s not because we “de-friended” you, but because our account was disabled.)
A few Chicago students, however, had a bone to pick with us. They objected to this ATL post, which cast the recently announced departure of Professor Cass Sunstein — prominent scholar, beloved teacher, and possible Supreme Court nominee under President Obama — as a hiring coup by Harvard Law School, a triumph by HLS over Chicago. They emphasized that Professor Sunstein’s leaving the Windy City for Cambridge was prompted by personal rather than professional reasons.
Professor Sunstein said as much his farewell email (emphasis added; in fact, all emphases added throughout this post, unless otherwise indicated):

I’m writing to say that I’ve just accepted an appointment at Harvard Law School. It is an understatement to say that I don’t take this step easily or lightly. As most of you know, I’ve been reflecting on this question for several years. I finally decided, for personal reasons, that I need a change.

Since he’s a prominent Obama supporter — as well an adviser to the campaign, but more on that later, since it ties into our tale — it’s not surprising that Professor Sunstein is All About Change.
The law school’s popular leader, Dean Saul Levmore, also stressed the personal component to Professor Sunstein’s move. As he told the University of Chicago’s student newspaper, the Maroon:

“I’m sort of embarrassed that [the story] said that the University of Chicago couldn’t be reached for comment,” Levmore said. “It looks like we didn’t want to talk, but the truth is that this decision [to leave Chicago for Harvard] was based on personal reasons and I respect that privacy. The media will find out about them soon enough.

With a comment like this, Dean Levmore was basically begging us to go digging. So dig we did.
Martha Nussbaum Cass Sunstein Above the Law blog.jpgLet’s see, Cass Sunstein’s “personal reasons” for leaving U. Chicago… hold on a sec. Isn’t Professor Sunstein part of legal academia’s most fabulous power couple, together with that renowned philosopher queen, Professor Martha Nussbaum? And didn’t Professor Nussbaum just turn down a Harvard offer?
That was then; this is now. What we learned in our investigation is consistent with this ATL comment, as well as this (subsequently removed) Wikipedia edit.
It appears that Professor Sunstein may be part of a new “power couple” — in the most literal sense. Rumor has it that he’s romantically involved with Professor Samantha Power — a beautiful, brainy professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, who is roughly 15 years his junior. She is a Pulitzer Prize winner who has also been profiled in Men’s Vogue (see glamorous photo, at the top of this post). What’s not to like?
Update: More about Samantha Power here (from a college classmate who tried to hit on her, without success, and just ended arguing politics with her).
Now, please don’t give us full credit (or blame) for bringing to light the Sunstein-Power relationship. When we attended the Chicago Law School musical last weekend, Samantha Power got a shout-out near the end of the show, when the Cass Sunstein character announced his departure for Harvard. So the rumor of her romance with Professor Sunstein is already widely known throughout the U. Chicago community (and beyond); it’s no state secret. It is already known to hundreds, if not thousands, of people.
We reached out to all three members of this Mensalicious love triangle, which seems to come straight out of a Saul Bellow novel. Find out what we learned — two of them had no comment, but one of them did — after the jump.

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