By Andrew Peyton Thomas
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Extra info for The People V. Harvard Law: How America's Oldest Law School Turned its Back on Free Speech
Nesson enjoyed the cloak-and-dagger maneuvering. On a later occasion, he phoned an Ellsberg sympathizer and established contact for his client by reading a poem the other man would recognize, “Trip City”—code for the Pentagon Papers. In his biography of Ellsberg, Wild Man, Tom Wells portrayed Nesson as adventuresome and loyal to Ellsberg. But Ellsberg’s ex-wife, Carol, remembered Nesson as unctuous and “a little on the slick side,” someone who at times misled her about whether she or her children would have to testify in Ellsberg’s trial.
The hiring of a few minorities and women—particularly when a faculty is under pressure from students or civil rights agencies—is not a departure from, but an adherence to, this power-preserving doctrine” of de facto white male supremacy, Bell wrote. In other words, law schools that relented to the demands of Bell and company and hired personnel such as Austin were still in the thrall of bigotry. This presented truly a no-win situation for Harvard Law, unless perhaps the school began laying off large numbers of white professors.
Clerks research and write opinions for judges, who often do little more than edit the opinions before publishing them under their own names. Clerks who are able to insert into court opinions the theories they have learned in law school succeed in making these ideas, instantly, the law of the land. Harvard sent more of its graduates to clerk for the Supreme Court than any other law school. Predictably, the rulings of the high court often promoted a set of values popular at Harvard but at odds with the views of a majority of Americans.