Cambridge, MA — Hundreds of Harvard Law School (HLS) students, alumni, and other community members have signed a letter asking Dean John Manning and other members of the school’s leadership to refuse to hire or affiliate with any senior official from the Trump administration or member of Congress who crafted or otherwise enabled the administration’s morally reprehensible policies and acts.
Several students shared why they signed the petition. “The Trump administration undermined the democratic values and moral ideals that Harvard Law claims to hold as foundational,” said Kurt Walters, a 3L at HLS. “If Harvard calls itself an institution committed to justice, dignity, and respect, it must prevent the architects of policies that illegally tore immigrant families apart, rolled back the clock on civil rights, and demolished protections for workers from using the Harvard name to wipe themselves clean of the harm they wrought.”
“At the start of the year, Dean Manning and the law school stated a commitment to ‘understanding and addressing the moral and legal crises confronting this nation.’ As we usher in a new presidential administration, the police presence around the Capitol building is just one stark reminder of the damage done by senior Trump officials and their supporters in Congress,” said Emma Leibowitz, a 1L at HLS. “To give Harvard’s seal of approval to anyone who attempted to subvert the democratic process, enact xenophobic and racist policies, and attack fundamental rights enshrined in our Constitution would demonstrate the insincerity of that commitment.”
In the final days of the Trump administration, many senior officials and supporters attempted to distance themselves from their participation in the administration’s damaging actions. “This was not a sincere change of heart. They want to be re-accepted into polite society after putting children in cages, disenfranchising voters, and lying to the public. Harvard has assisted in this type of reputation laundering before,” said Nicole Rubin, a 2L at HLS. “ Inviting former government officials from both sides of the aisle to teach at Harvard can be a beneficial educational opportunity. However, to do so with senior Trump officials and their major supporters in Congress would teach students at Harvard that violating the school’s core principles is just one step on a pathway to success.”
After the violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, the Harvard Kennedy School took a step to disassociate with political figures who dangerously and flagrantly promoted the dishonest ideals of the Trump administration. The hundreds of signatories ask that HLS do the same.
“Harvard Law School has a choice. It can set an example in preventing future attacks on our democracy and creating a safe academic environment for people of all backgrounds,” says Beth Feldstein, a 3L at HLS. “Or it can abdicate its role and allow these officials back into polite legal society without consequence. If it does, it will be a blemish on the school’s history for generations to come.”
The letter requests a response from the administration by February 10, 2021, and is continuing to take additional signatures by students, alumni, staff, faculty, and other community members.
About the People’s Parity Project
Founded in 2018, the People’s Parity Project is a nationwide network of law students and new attorneys organizing to unrig the legal system and build a justice system that values people over profits. The organization is grounded in the belief that members of the legal profession have a responsibility to demystify—and dismantle—the coercive legal tools that have stacked the system against the people. PPP is fighting for a civil legal system that works for working people, especially workers of color, women, and low-wage, precarious, immigrant, disabled, and LGBTQ+ workers. Learn more: peoplesparity.org/about.