Harvard Students Felt Unsafe Under Weinstein Lawyer's Watch. Now He's Lost His Dean Post

Attorney Ronald Sullivan, formerly for Harvey Weinstein, enters State Supreme Court in New York, Friday, April 26, 2019. (Richard Drew/AP)

Attorney Ronald Sullivan, formerly for Harvey Weinstein, enters State Supreme Court in New York, Friday, April 26, 2019. (Richard Drew/AP)

Find our buildout from this hour, featuring a partial transcription, here.

With Meghna Chakrabarti

A Harvard law professor who was part of Harvey Weinstein’s defense team is out as an undergraduate faculty dean after student protests. We look at #MeToo justice and campus culture now.


Stephanie Ebbert, reporter for the Boston Globe. (@StephanieEbbert)

Randall Kennedy, professor at Harvard Law School. (@Harvard_Law)

Remedy Ryan, sophomore at Harvard University doing a concentration in social studies and women, gender and sexuality. (@remedyhr)

From The Reading List

'Our Harvard Can Do Better' Calls For Ronald Sullivan's Removal As Winthrop House Faculty Dean

Does Representing Harvey Weinstein Preclude This Law Professor From Serving Students?

On Point

46:47May 22, 2019

Harvard Crimson: "Opinion: Harvard, Remove Dean Sullivan" — "On Jan. 25, The Crimson reported Winthrop House Faculty Dean Ronald S. Sullivan, Jr.’s decision to defend in court Harvey Weinstein, the man whose infamous sexual misconduct and assault of over a dozen women initiated the #MeToo movement in 2017. In the following week, Sullivan upheld his choice to represent Weinstein through an email addressing the Winthrop community. Subsequent reports revealed Sullivan has also come out in public support of Harvard professor Roland G. Fryer, Jr. against allegations of sexual harassment from female employees. In his comments about Fryer’s case, Sullivan disparaged both the #MeToo movement and Harvard’s Title IX procedures, calling the University’s investigations 'deeply flawed and deeply unfair.'

"Sullivan’s actions and statements are unfitting of a faculty dean. We condemn Sullivan’s decision to represent Weinstein and defend Fryer while serving as a Winthrop faculty dean. We further condemn the Harvard administration’s inaction in light of these actions.

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"We believe deeply in every defendant's right to attorney. But there are many lawyers who could have defended Weinstein. While Sullivan’s defense of Weinstein might be consistent with his precedent of defending the 'unpopular defendant,' it is not consistent with his responsibility to Harvard students. As a faculty dean, he has a responsibility to consider how his actions will affect the environment in which his students learn and live. Winthrop students have already experienced the detrimental effects of his decision to defend Weinstein."

New York Times: "Opinion: Harvard Betrays a Law Professor — and Itself" — "I have been a professor at Harvard University for 34 years. In that time, the school has made some mistakes. But it has never so thoroughly embarrassed itself as it did this past weekend. At the center of the controversy is Ronald Sullivan, a law professor who ran afoul of student activists enraged that he was willing to represent Harvey Weinstein.

"Mr. Sullivan is my friend and colleague. He is the director of the Criminal Justice Institute at Harvard Law School and the architect of a conviction-review program in Brooklyn that has freed a score of improperly convicted individuals. He is also a sought-after lawyer who has represented plaintiffs (including the family of Michael Brown, whose death at the hands of a police officer fueled the Black Lives Matter movement) as well as defendants (including Rose McGowan, the actress who faced drug charges and is, ironically, one of Mr. Weinstein’s accusers).

"In addition to his work as a professor and a lawyer, Mr. Sullivan, with his wife, Stephanie Robinson, has served for a decade as the faculty dean of Winthrop House, an undergraduate dormitory where some 400 students live.

"As a faculty dean, Mr. Sullivan is responsible for creating a safe, fun, supportive environment in which students can pursue their collegiate ambitions. Winthrop House is meant to be a home away from home; faculty deans are in loco parentis. Mr. Sullivan and Ms. Robinson are expected to attend to the students as counselors, cheerleaders, impresarios and guardians."

New York Times: "Harvard’s First Black Faculty Deans Let Go Amid Uproar Over Harvey ..." — "Harvard said on Saturday that a law professor who has represented Harvey Weinstein would not continue as faculty dean of an undergraduate house after his term ends on June 30, bowing to months of pressure from students.

"The professor, Ronald S. Sullivan Jr., and his wife, Stephanie Robinson, who is a lecturer at the law school, have been the faculty deans of Winthrop House, one of Harvard’s residential houses for undergraduate students, since 2009. They were the first African-American faculty deans in Harvard’s history.

"But when Mr. Sullivan joined the defense team of Mr. Weinstein, the Hollywood producer, in January, many students expressed dismay, saying that his decision to represent a person accused of abusing women disqualified Mr. Sullivan from serving in a role of support and mentorship to students. Mr. Weinstein is scheduled to go to trial in September in Manhattan on rape and related charges.

"As the protests continued, with graffiti aimed at Mr. Sullivan appearing on a university building, Harvard administrators said they would conduct what they called a climate review of Winthrop House. In recent weeks, tensions have escalated, with a student sit-in and a lawsuit sparked by a clash between one of the protest leaders and two Winthrop House staff members who were seen as supporting Mr. Sullivan."

Written Statement From Rachael Danes, Harvard Director of Media Relations 

As announced by Dean Khurana to the Winthrop residential community, the College is not renewing the appointment of Ron Sullivan and Stephanie Robinson as the Winthrop House Faculty Deans when their term ends on June 30, 2019. They will be here through the remainder of their current 5 year term, through June 30th.

The College’s decision not to renew the Faculty Deans was informed by a number of considerations. Over the last few weeks, students have continued to communicate concerns about the climate in Winthrop House to the College. The concerns expressed have been serious and numerous. The actions that have been taken to improve the climate and the noticeable absence of Faculty Dean leadership during critical moments has further deteriorated the climate in the house. The College deemed this situation in the House to be untenable.

With respect to reports from the Crimson on house personnel matters over the last few years, I can confirm that in the ordinary course, the College works with all Houses and House staff on matters of House climate and community. We have heard some of these concerns regarding Winthrop before and have partnered with the House on interventions in the past, but these measures have not proved to be sufficient. Dean Khurana understand that for the benefit of the community, the Faculty Deans cannot be renewed.

With respect to Weinstein and the decision by the Dean to represent this client, Dean Khurana has made clear that he believes that all faculty members must be given academic freedom to make decisions that are right for them. He also added that he believes that every individual is entitled to a vigorous defense as a cornerstone of our justice system. Previous reporting of these comments can be found here.

Regarding the general role of Faculty Deans on campus, the role and term of Faculty Deans are explicitly clear to those who are appointed to the position. In Harvard’s unique residential system, Faculty Deans serve in equally important academic and pastoral roles, supporting students’ academic needs and personal well-being, setting the tone for the House in its social activities and in its function as a close-knit community.

Faculty Deans receive an intensive orientation during the summer before they begin their first year. This includes meetings over several days with all of the different departments that support a House, review of manuals and other materials, and discussions with College Deans and other Faculty Deans about the management of a House. Training continuing throughout their early years in a consultative way with the College and with experienced Faculty Deans.

Faculty Deans report to the Dean of the College. They meet with him monthly as a group during term time and consult with him on House issues throughout the year as necessary. There is an annual House Review meeting in the summer during which the Deans discuss House concerns in greater detail.

Faculty Deans are appointed from the FAS or other faculties of the University. An announcement is circulated to faculty to notify them of an opening in a House. Faculty Deans are appointed for an initial term of 5 years. During their 4th year, they are reviewed and if satisfactory, are re-appointed for a second term of 5 years.

With respect to the accusations some have made that this is a racially based decision, I’d like to share some information about the number of Faculty Dean’s that Rakesh Khurana has had the ability to appoint in his 5 years as Dean of the College. Point of reference, Dean Sullivan and Dean Robinson were not appointed under Dean Khurana. They are a diverse group, underscoring the Dean’s commitment to assembling a group of Faculty Deans that are representative of the undergraduate population. Here is the list:

Currier House

Latanya Sweeney and Sylvia Barrett

Dunster House

Cheryl Chen and Sean Kelly

Leverett House

Brian Farrell and Irina Ferreras

Mather House

L. “Maha” Mahadevan and Amala Mahadevan

Lowell House

Nina Zipser and David Liabson

Stefano Kotsonis produced this hour for broadcast.

This program aired on May 20, 2019.


American justice centers on innocent until proven guilty and that every defendant deserves legal representation, even in the dark days of chattel slavery.

According to Samuel Eliot Morison in The Oxford History Of The American People (1965) the most famous case involving slavery, until eclipsed by Dred Scott's, was that of the Amistad in 1839.  She was a Spanish slave ship carrying 53 newly imported Negroes who were being moved from Havana to another Cuban port.  Under the leadership of an upstanding Negro name Cinque, they mutinied and killed captain and crew.

Then, ignorant of navigation, they had to rely on a white man whom they spared to sail the ship.  He stealthily steered north, the Amistad was picked up off Long Island by a United States warship, taken into New Haven, and with her cargo placed in charge of the federal marshal.  Then what a legal hassle!  Spain demanded that the slaves be given up to be tried for piracy, and President Van Buren attempted to do so but did not quite dare.

Lewis Tappen and Roger Sherman Baldwin, a Connecticut abolitionist, undertook to free them by legal process, and the case was appealed to the Supreme Court.  John Quincy Adams, persuaded to act as their attorney, argued that the Negroes be freed, on the ground that the slave trade was illegal both by American and Spanish law, and that mankind had a natural right to freedom.


The court, with a majority of Southerners, was so impressed by the old statesman's eloquence that it ordered Cinque and the other Negroes set free, and they were returned to Africa.

Harvey Weinstein 'Reaches $44 Million Deal' With Accusers

Harvey Weinstein exits the courtroom after a hearing in State Supreme Court on April 26 in New York. The Hollywood producer reportedly reached a $44 million deal to resolve a series of lawsuits and compensate women who accused him of sexual misconduct.  Stephanie Keith/Getty Images

Updated at 10:35 a.m.

Harvey Weinstein and his former film studio board members have reached a tentative deal with women who accused the movie mogul of sexual misconduct.

On Thursday, Adam Harris, a lawyer for Weinstein Co. co-founder Bob Weinstein, told a bankruptcy court judge that "an economic agreement in principal" had been reached.

The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times reported Thursday that there was a $44 million proposed deal. A source with knowledge of the deal confirmed that figure to NPR.

"That $44 million is not coming from Harvey Weinstein himself, it's actually coming from insurance policies," Corinne Ramey, a reporter with the Journal, tells NPR. She added that they were civil, not criminal lawsuits.

About $30 million would go to the accusers, studio creditors and former employees of Weinstein Co. who said they felt they might be punished in a hostile work environment, according to the Journal. Another $14 million would pay for legal fees that Harvey Weinstein's associates faced.

The agreement must be approved by advisers who now control Weinstein Co. in bankruptcy proceedings, according to a company lawyer who spoke to the newspaper.

Weinstein still faces a criminal case involving two accusers. That pending case in New York, which charges Weinstein with rape, among other crimes, can still move forward. Motions have been filed to allow other women to testify, which could help prosecutors prove allegations about Weinstein's behavior, Ramey said.

In January, a federal judge in California dismissed a claim of sexual harassment in a lawsuit filed by Ashley Judd, siding with defense lawyers who argued that the law cited in the suit at the time of the alleged offense did not cover movie producers like Weinstein. It was the second time the judge dismissed the sexual harassment claim in Judd's lawsuit.

Weinstein turned himself in to police last May. Dozens of women accused him of sexual misconduct, after The New York Times and The New Yorker reported on women who described him as a predator, forcing them into unwanted sexual acts over decades. The reports brought forth the #MeToo movement.

As one of Hollywood's most powerful men, Weinstein was also accused of destroying the careers of women who did not comply with his demands.

He has denied the allegations and pleaded not guilty to rape and other sex crimes.


However, Cinque, like Harvey Weinstein was no angel:  The ironic epilogue is that Cinque, once home, set himself up as a slave trader.  But in America, he received a lawyer and legal advice.


Me Too, if it is not careful, will be turned into an organization composed of women suffering from what Sigmund Freud defined as Hysteria.  Some evidence have been thrown-out against Weinstein because of witness tampering by the New York City Police—historical women tampering with Weinstein’s ability to get a decent lawyer, thereby a fair trial can have a negative effect on public opinion. 

Sexual assault is a serious crime that affects both women and men, however you cannot allow this crime of power turn you into a permanent victim of hysteria.  Power and Permanent victim-hood is what the sexual abuser strives for.


Harvard University, by removing Professor Ronald Sullivan from his post as Dean of the Dorm, demonstrates that it is not educating its students to think critically.  Harvard is miseducating its students in that is has not impressed them with a knowledge of American civic history.  And Harvard's historical role as a Civil Rights mecca.  Even the fact that W.E.B. Dubois, a Negro, could attend Harvard and receive his PhD is an act of historically civic bravery on its part.  Harvey Weinstein has been accused, will go to trial, and is entitled to the best legal representation available to him.  He cannot be tried in the Harvard Crimson.  That is lynch-mob justice.

Samuel Eliot Morison states that the thirty years from 1890 to 1920 were the darkest for the dark people of America.  And, sad to relate, a perverted form of democracy was responsible.  But the Southern gentry who abdicated the leadership they exerted in Reconstruction days, cannot escape responsibility.  Some men of courage and integrity, like Harper Lee's Atticus Finch [a lawyer], upheld justice to the Negro; many more deplored the situation but failed to do anything about it.


MeToo Movement Transforms New Season Of 'Arrested Development'


The series returns to Netflix Tuesday with co-star Jeffrey Tambor, despite reports of his bullying behavior, and sexual misconduct allegations that led to his firing from Amazon's Transparent

Woman in SBC leadership post says #MeToo

A vice president at LifeWay Christian Resources joined the #MeToo and #ChurchToo moments roiling the Southern Baptist Convention with a statement March 11 claiming she was sexually abused by a seminary professor who resigned last year due to an undisclosed “personnel matter.”

Jennifer Lyell, vice president of book merchandizing and publishing at the SBC entity in Nashville, Tennessee, said the professor first acted sexually against her on a mission trip in 2004, establishing a pattern of abuse that continued for more than a decade.

Jennifer Lyell

Lyell, who leads the second-largest business segment of LifeWay’s 10 ministry areas, said she long remained silent because she was trying to protect the perpetrator’s family. She is speaking now, she said, because she learned he was being appointed as a missionary by an agency outside the Southern Baptist Convention.

Had she not come forward, Lyell said, anyone doing an Internet search on her abuser “would have no way to know the truth behind his resignation.”

“There are plenty of reasons to stay silent in a situation such as this,” she wrote. “But we must not be silent. We must clearly tell the truth so that our churches and ministries are safe and as pure as can be.”

Lyell, 41, discussed the subject of abuse in evangelical churches during a recent podcast on women in leadership with the SBC Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission.

“It’s impossible for me to address this question without acknowledging that I experienced sexual abuse both as a child as well as an adult,” she told Better Together podcast interviewer Trillia Newbell. “So I’ve experienced sexual abuse specifically both outside of the church as a child and in the context of Christian community as an adult.”

Lyell, who received a master-of-divinity degree in theology and missions from the Billy Graham School at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 2005, said stories of women abused by powerful men coming out the last couple of years have been “very challenging” for her to hear.

“The hardest thing for me has been whenever instances of abuse, exploitation, sexualization of women, sexual assault of women come to light and the church is quiet, the church is dismissive.” she said.

That, she continued, doesn’t apply to just top-down hierarchies like the Roman Catholic Church.

“We don’t have one voice that can speak for us, but we certainly have key leaders,” Lyell said. “When those leaders who are on the national stage are silent or are somehow dismissive of the significance, it has been one of the biggest seasons when I have struggled with rage, of just desperately wanting to unbridle my voice as much as possible and shout to the roof, shout to the mountain, shout to anyone who will hear, ‘This is not OK, and you don’t understand what this is.’ But I don’t know if that’s helpful, so I’ve sought to be prayerful and to be quiet.”

Lyell said she has only recently come to acknowledge that telling her story is important so “that people begin to understand how prevalent this is around them.”

Because of “various circumstances” in the Southern Baptist Convention and her own life, she recently decided the leadership team she works with “needed to know what I was walking through.”

As she shared her story with the group of about a dozen employees, mostly men who have worked for her for years, “the thing that I heard from most of them was how surprised they were that this could happen to me.”

“What they meant and what many articulated was that ‘you’re so strong,’” she related. One, a parent of two daughters with different personalities, volunteered that he might have worried about such things happening to the shy, quiet sister but not the one who is outgoing and outspoken.

“Part of why I began to speak was to say there is no type to which this happens,” Lyell said. “There is no single circumstance in which this happens. There is no limitation to how far this can go.”

In her written statement on sexual abuse, Lyell said part of her former professor’s grooming was to treat her as part of his family. Over the years she spent weekends and holidays with them. Their grandchildren treated her like an aunt and the adult children were like siblings.

“It looked idyllic on the surface,” she wrote. “Except the pattern of inappropriate sexual activity continued throughout the relationship.”

She said she now regrets “so idolizing the idea of a whole family that I protected it despite what was happening within it.”

In her Feb. 19 podcast, Lyell said she has “a real heart” for families connected to an individual publicly accused of sexual abuse.

“Abusers generally have families,” she said, citing high profile cases such as Jerry Sandusky and Larry Nassar. “In the aftermath of these things coming to light, which they should and they must, there’s another set of victims. Their family is upended. Their worlds are turned upside down as well.”

“It is a challenge and a struggle as someone who is the one who is abused to take the step that you know is going to create that disruption in someone’s life,” she said. “I think there are so many reasons why people don’t understand why abuse victims don’t come forward, and that’s one I’ve not heard people talk about but I think is key.”

Lyell identified two things “the church needs to realize and understand” – that “sexual abuse does not only happen to children” and that “sexual assault is not only rape.”

“When you understand those two things, you understand the breadth of what you’re dealing with,” she said.

Lyell said it is important that recent attention to abuse awareness not become “just a moment” in culture but remain a continuing concern for the church.

“I recently was doing some research and realized that where we live in Nashville, there is not any support group that operates in the context of any churches for sexual abuse survivors,” she said.

The reason, she hypothesized, is “the perception that no one will come.”

“Well, no, people will come,” she said. “So there’s work for us to do. Some of that work we’re beginning to do at LifeWay and to look at how we can serve in that way.”

“Where I think it needs to change is to go from where [churches] are just being preventative — by doing things like background checks and education with children’s ministry — or reactive, to instead broadening to understand how big sexual abuse is, how many it impacts,” she said.

“The same thing with sexual assault, and then have some kind of ongoing ministry within the context of every local church, whether that’s a prayer ministry or a support group, that engages those who have been impacted by these issues.”

Previous stories:

Church fires worship leader five years after sexual abuse confession

NewSpring Church denies liability for volunteer accused of child se...

SBC leader steps down after newspaper expose about abuse and coverup

One-time VBS volunteer at Southern Baptist church charged with viol...

SBC leadership group reserves judgment about churches named in medi...

Abuse survivors, activists to rally ‘for such a time as this’ a sec...

SBC president calls for investigation of churches accused of harbor...

Al Mohler says he was wrong about C.J. Mahaney

Survivor says SBC leaders’ response to abuse revelations little hel...

Newspaper story on sexual abuse in SBC was a long time coming for a...

Related commentary:

Peggy Haymes | The national conversation about sexual abuse by Baptist clergy is i...

Alan Bean | Clergy sex scandal proves Dale Moody was right about ‘once-saved-al...

Jon Singletary | Turn around and walk against the system of sexism in the Church

Bill Leonard | An ‘apology’ is not ‘repentance’: responding to clergy sexual abuse...

Mary Day Miller | Addressing clergy misconduct: American Baptists do things differently

Jann Aldredge-Clanton | God is not a guy and neither am I: male dominance and sexual abuse ...

Christa Brown | What’s wrong with the proposed sexual abuse amendment to the SBC co...

Professor Randall Kennedy sees the Sullivan-Harvard decision as “the justice system on trial.”  In this opinion he is operating as a Civil Rights attorney and a law professor in Harvard Law School.  He sees Professor Sullivan treatment by as a betrayal based on feelings.  Feelings are not admissible evidence in court and Weinstein or any other defendant deserves a vigorous defense in court.

May 20, 2019: In Prison For 13 Years, Man Exonerated After Defending Himself

Here & Now's Robin Young speaks with Hassan Bennett, who has been out of prison for two weeks after defending himself in a retrial of his 13-year-old case — and winning. Also, as more than 1.8 million recent college grads begin jobs and paying off loans, we have some money advice for them. That and more, in hour two of Here & Now's May 20, 2019 full broadcast. You can read and hear more at, follow us on Twitter and join the conversation on Facebook.

This program aired on May 20, 2019.

Randall Kennedy sees no professional conflict in Sullivan being adviser on Weinstein’s case and his being Dean of a Harvard Dorm.  In his duty as Dean, he listens, observes, and mediates between students with what they see as a grievance.  My friend F. who attends Harvard as a grad student explained to me that Harvard caters to its undergraduates in their grievances because most of them are “legacy” students of big donors’ alumni or will be donors in the future.  Thereby, their desires and complaints are taken seriously.


Weinstein has been accused by women of various sexual offenses, but Sullivan is accused of guilt-by-association; thus Sullivan's duty as a lawyer is being confused with the acts of Weinstein’s.  Sullivan is head of Harvard's Criminal Defense Clinic that handles Pro Bono Publico cases seeking justice for the indigent.  And finally, Kennedy cautions that Harvard should be about teaching its students to beware of the Tyranny of Feelings.  This tyranny of feelings is the bête noir of the lynch mob.

Home / Expert Testimony / Harvard, don’t punish Weinstein’s lawyer

Attorneys Ronald Sullivan, left, and Jose Baez, speak during a news conference outside New York Supreme Court on Jan. 25 in New York. Sullivan and Baez represent Harvey Weinstein in the sexual assault case against him. (AP file photo)
Attorneys Ronald Sullivan, left, and Jose Baez, speak during a news conference outside New York Supreme Court on Jan. 25 in New York. Sullivan and Baez represent Harvey Weinstein in the sexual assault case against him. (AP file photo)

Harvard, don’t punish Weinstein’s lawyer

By Stephen L. Carter
Bloomberg Opinion

If you’re able to shift your attention for a moment from the drama being played out in Washington, take a moment to worry about the drama being played out in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where a professor at Harvard Law School is under fire for choosing to represent an unpopular client.

The professor is Ronald Sullivan, an experienced criminal defense lawyer, and the client is Harvey Weinstein, which of course means that the fat was in the fire from the first. For signing on to defend one of the most hated men in America, Sullivan (so say a group of Harvard students) should no longer be permitted to serve as a faculty dean of Winthrop House, one of several residence halls for Harvard undergraduates.

Ron Sullivan is a friend of long standing, and one of the most generous and decent men I have ever known. The things his critics are saying about him have nothing to do with what kind of person he is; they all stem from his choice of clients. So let’s focus on that.

Weinstein is an utterly malign figure, and I certainly share the general opinion about the horrific nature of the crimes of which he is accused. But to suggest that those who represent him should be punished runs counter to the traditions of our legal system. Criminal defense lawyers defend criminals, and criminals are often horrible human beings. Sullivan earlier represented the late Aaron Hernandez, the former professional football player, and there was no outcry then that he be punished for taking on a client accused of a double homicide.

Judging the morality of lawyers by the morality of their clients carries echoes of the McCarthy era, when red-baiters would smear lawyers who represented communists. The organized bar, rather than protect its members, joined in the condemnation. The result was predictable: Rather than take on unpopular clients, lawyers cowered in what U.S. Supreme Court Justice William Douglas decried as a “black silence of fear.”

The issue is personal for me, because this great silence touched my family. In the 1950s, at the height of the red-baiting madness, my great-uncle, Alphaeus Hunton, faced prison for refusing to name names. He had difficulty securing representation. Small wonder, given the tenor of the times. Ironically, Alphaeus wound up behind bars because he would not say who had contributed to a bail fund set up for accused communists — a fund that was necessary, in part, because communists couldn’t get lawyers.

I quite understand the difference between an accused communist and an accused rapist. But the issue isn’t which client is worse. The issue is whether a lawyer should be judged by choice of client in the first place. The legal profession, perhaps as a penance for its silence in the face of the red-baiters, has spent decades fighting to distinguish the morality of the lawyer from the morality of the client.  If the leaders of the bar don’t speak up firmly and forcefully on Sullivan’s behalf, it will be hard to take them seriously when they speak on other issues in the future.

The critics insist that they do not question Sullivan’s right as a professor to represent whom he chooses — only his fitness to head Winthrop House, where he has particular responsibilities for students’ well-being. They say that his representation of Weinstein makes them feel unprotected, and re-traumatizes those who have suffered sexual assault.

Those feelings of pain and fear should not be trivialized; I can’t accept the view that they’re “absurd.” But their existence shouldn’t lead automatically to the conclusion that a lawyer who would represent a hated client can’t be a faculty dean. As Sullivan’s Harvard Law School colleague Randall Kennedy asks pointedly: “Does that mean that a latter-day Bella Abzug or Thurgood Marshall would be disqualified as a prospective faculty dean? Both of them represented defendants charged with rape.”

Certainly a university might place reasonable restrictions on the outside activities of professors — to avoid conflicts of interest, for example. But a school should never pressure those of its faculty who are also lawyers to take on only popular clients and causes. Moreover, should Sullivan be forced to step down, it’s hard to imagine the protest ending there. Surely every professor shares the duty of making students feel welcomed and encouraged. At the very least, the ousting of Sullivan would start a landslide, as all faculty who do outside work of any sort have to look over their shoulders, wondering what’s allowed and what’s not.

More worrisome still is Harvard’s ominous promise to look into the “atmosphere” at Winthrop House. It suggests that the university believes that a faculty member’s choice of clients is a matter of administrative significance. And let’s not pretend to be naive: Nowadays, being investigated by campus authorities is tantamount to being convicted by them.

We’re a far cry from the days of Abbot Lawrence Lowell, the president of Harvard who developed the “house” system. Yes, Lowell had his many warts, but he did some good things. Here’s one of them: A century ago, during the runup to World War I, a Harvard professor was accused of supporting Germany. Editorialists wanted his head. Lowell’s response has justifiably gone down in history: “If a university or college censors what its professors may say, if it restrains them from uttering something that it does not approve, it thereby assumes responsibility for that which it permits them to say.”

The same reasoning, it seems to me, should apply to the selection of a client. Harvard could certainly adopt a rule holding that no faculty shall engage in outside legal work. Absent that, however, once the school decides to punish a professor for choosing the wrong client, it implicitly endorses the clients of others who are not punished.

If that’s the business Harvard wants to be in, then in all fairness the administration might as well come out and publish a list, right now, today, of acceptable and unacceptable clients. We might as well get a good clear look at the future.

Stephen L. Carter is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He is a professor of law at Yale University and was a clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Minnesota Lawyer, the Bloomberg editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

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Comment by mary gravitt on May 24, 2019 at 11:47am

Me Too is necessary.  But it must be careful not to tip over into hysteria because it is a women's organization.  The recent abortion laws and the attacks on Roe v. Wade is a warning that women still are under the power of men.  And too women must remember that as Americans we are subject to American Law.  Every one is entitled to legal representation.  And defending the enemy is part of American law.  At one time race could determine justice, but we Americans moved beyond this even in the darkest days of Chattel one was "innocent until proven guilty" in a court of law.

Comment by J.P. Hart on May 24, 2019 at 3:07pm

Curious what your prognostication is on the 2020 presidential election, Mary...

Comment by mary gravitt on May 25, 2019 at 3:47pm

As I see Trump and Barr destroy what is left of American Justice, I want young people to understand what American Justice is about.  Free people debate and work out the kinky problems.  Today's victim may be tomorrow's prisoner.  The Civil Rights Movement showed this to be true.

This is why the loss of Our Salon is so tragic.  We are loosing an avenue of free speech.


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Pen for Hire ( Bathos, Pathos)

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Always Out Front.... Anyway

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