Law

Human Rights and Human Responsibilities

Kathryn Sikkink— Sometimes we get so enamored with our rights that we forget about our corresponding responsibilities. In order to fully realize our own rights and the rights of others, we also need to embrace and practice responsibilities. For example, people in the United States like to think they have

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Lessons from the Civil War for America’s Fractured Present: Part Two

Timothy William Waters— Why Remembering the Civil War Matters: Talking about Belonging in America How we remember the Civil War matters for thinking about our increasingly fragile union today—how we talk about identity, belonging, and leaving. The war seems to offer an obvious moral model. But that solution dissolves when

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Lessons from the Civil War for America’s Fractured Present: Part One

Timothy William Waters— What We (Mis-)Remember about Our Reasons for Fighting America is now so polarized that serious people wonder if the country will hold together. The Atlantic devoted its December issue to “How to Stop a Civil War”—and the Atlantic, founded in 1857, covered the actual Civil War. As

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Who Owns Software?

Gerardo Con Diaz— When we own something, we can usually explain what that thing is. My car is an object that I recognize, and the blog posts I write are texts that I can identify rather quickly. It wouldn’t be difficult for me to tell whether someone took my car

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What Got Antivaxxers to Vax in New York City

Richard Robb— In fall 2018, measles returned to New York City. It was hardly surprising, given the alarmingly widespread resistance to vaccination. According to a recent survey, 2% of Americans believe vaccines are unsafe and ineffective and another 6% believe the side effects of vaccination outweigh the benefits. Many antivaxxers maintain

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Public Hearings and Presidential Privilege in Impeachment Proceedings

Charles L. Black, Jr.— SHOULD HEARINGS BE PUBLIC?  There may be early stages in the investigation process in the House when confidentiality should be maintained. Public disclosure of raw evidence, not yet evaluated as to credibility or relevance, might do some harm, and can do no good. In the later

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The Battle over Source Code

Aram Sinnreich— Professional prognosticators and commentators often treat the development of media technology as a one-way street, an inevitable series of magical innovations leading to an equally inevitable set of disruptions in business, culture, and society. In reality, of course, the process is far more complex. Technology developers and media

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Rethinking the History of Religious Freedom

Robert Louis Wilken— In the Supreme Court case Minersville School District v. Gobitis, 1940, that upheld compulsory pledging of allegiance to the U.S. flag in schools, Justice Felix Frankfurter, writing for the majority, said: “Centuries of strife over the erection of particular dogmas as exclusive or all-comprehending faiths led to

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Of Holy Rivers and Human Rights: Protecting the Ganges by Law

Sudipta Sen— On March 20, 2017, the highest court in the state of Uttarakhanda, India declared the river Ganges (known as the Ganga in India) and its main tributary Yamuna as rights-bearing “living entities,” effectively granting them the legal status of personhood. Uttarakhanda is a northern Indian state that borders

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The “Seriatim Practice” of the Supreme Court

Paul W. Kahn—   We can imagine a state in which courts issued judgments without explanation. The need to settle disputes requires some form of adjudicatory mechanism; it does not necessarily require explanation of the decisions. When there is explanation, the form of presentation has varied over time. The American

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