Crimson DNA

The Bill of Rights, the first ten amendments t...

Time to scratch off that Fourth one?

The Honorable Alex Kozinski, Chief Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, and one of his law clerks have penned a eulogy for the Fourth Amendment. It’s been murdered, Judge Kozinski and Stephanie Grace write in an editorial for The Daily, and you all are the guilty culprits.

You’ve put a knife in it, by letting supermarkets track your shopping in exchange for loyalty discounts, letting Amazon and eBay store your credit card info, and letting Google track the websites you visit and take photos of your homes with satellites.

The problem, at least constitutionally speaking, is that the Fourth Amendment protects only what we reasonably expect to keep private. One facet of this rule, known as the third party doctrine, is that we don’t have reasonable expectations of privacy in things we’ve already revealed to other people or the public…

With so little left private, the Fourth Amendment is all but obsolete. Where police officers once needed a warrant to search your bookshelf for “Atlas Shrugged,” they can now simply ask Amazon.com if you bought it. Where police needed probable cause before seizing your day planner, they can now piece together your whereabouts from your purchases, cellphone data and car’s GPS. Someday soon we’ll realize that we’ve lost everything we once cherished as private.

via Remember what the Fourth Amendment protects? No? Just as well. | United States |Axisoflogic.com.

The lamentation for the loss of privacy has special resonance coming from these two, because it’s by one of the top federal judges in the country and that Stephanie Grace.

Read on at Forbes.com….

Remember Kaavya Viswanathan? She’s the Harvard graduate who, while still in high school, landed a two-book deal worth a reported $500,000. The first book, a young adult / chick-lit novel entitled How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life, was published in April 2006, during Viswanathan’s sophomore year at Harvard.

And then things fell apart. To quote the blog Sepia Mutiny, “Kaavya Viswanathan got rich, got caught, and got ruined.” Shortly after the publication of Opal Mehta, the Harvard Crimson reported that various passages in the book appeared “strikingly similar” to portions of two young adult novels by Megan McCafferty.

Viswanathan was widely accused of plagiarizing — not just from McCafferty, but from Sophie Kinsella, Meg Cabot and Salman Rushdie. Her subsequent fall from grace, including the cancellation of her book and movie deals, made national and even international headlines (due to coverage back in her native India). She claimed that the similarities between her book and prior published works were unintentional, but given the number and extent of the apparently borrowed passages, some were incredulous. (For samples, see Wikipedia.)

After graduating from Harvard College in 2008, she went on to Georgetown Law, where she’s a member of the GULC class of 2011. Her arrival at Georgetown made Newsweek in February 2009:

Viswanathan is a first-year law student at Georgetown University, where Stephen Glass earned a J.D. after being fired from The New Republic for fabricating a series of articles….

How’d she manage to get accepted? Applicants can submit supplemental essays to explain themselves to the admissions committee, says Dean of Admissions Andrew Cornblatt. “It’s impossible to get amnesia about what we may have heard,” he says. “But in all cases we treat them just like any other applicant.”

It seems Georgetown isn’t the only institution treating Viswanathan “just like any other applicant.” Despite the tough fall recruiting season and her controversial past, Viswanathan, who just finished her 2L year, has landed a coveted summer associate position at a top law firm — one of Biglaw’s biggest and best names, in fact….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Summer Associate of the Day: Kaavya Viswanathan (Aka the Alleged Harvard Plagiarist)

We’re hoping the Harvard Law School email controversy has run its course — and we suspect that it has. (But we still invite you to take our reader poll on whether Crimson DNA’s email was racist or offensive.)

Before we close the door on this story, we’d like to give you the background on how it all got started. It’s disturbing — and a cautionary tale for all of us.

Our initial report on this story was missing some important pieces of information, which we did not acquire until later. This post will attempt to provide a more complete report of how one Harvard 3L’s personal email message, shared with just a handful of friends, became national news….

UPDATE: We’ve added a statement from one of the principal players, “Yelena,” after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Harvard Email Controversy: How It All Began”

If you’re tired of reading about the Harvard Law School email controversy — judging from our traffic and comment levels, most of you aren’t, but maybe some of you are — we have some good news. Our coverage is winding down. (We do have a few loose ends to tie up, though, which may take us into the weekend or early next week.)

Before we conclude, we’d like to hear from you, our readers. We’ve heard from the commenters, of course — but many readers never comment, so the commenters aren’t representative of everyone.

Reader polls, which draw much larger participation than the comments, offer a better gauge of audience sentiment. We’d like to poll you on two questions:

(1) Was Crimson DNA’s email racist?

(2) Was Crimson DNA’s email offensive?

Please vote in our two reader polls, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Was the Harvard Email Racist? Was it Offensive?
Take Our Reader Polls”

Yesterday, I asked why the Harvard Black Law Students Association had been silent on the controversial email from a third-year Harvard Law School student raising the “possibility that African Americans are, on average, genetically predisposed to be less intelligent.” Today, the organization released a statement on its website:

Harvard BLSA denounces racially inflammatory language – The Harvard Black Law Students Association (HBLSA) strongly condemns the racially inflammatory email that was circulated among the entire Harvard Law School community. Like many individuals who read its content, we find the message to be deplorable and offensive. We are open to thoughtful discourse on even the most controversial of views, and yet we categorically reject the archaic notion that African-Americans are genetically inferior to white people. We recognize, however, that this issue is much larger than any single email or any particular student.

Was that so hard? The foregoing paragraph is a pitch-perfect assessment of the situation and an effective response.

The BLSA letter goes on to say that HBLSA should not (and apparently does not) want to be the focus of attention here…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Harvard BLSA Responds to Email Controversy
Plus a statement from the HLS dean of students.

[We] had a heart to heart and she profusely apologized.

– Harvard Law professor Charles Ogletree, a BLSA adviser and director of the Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice, after asking CRIMSON DNA to come to his office.