Tag Archive: yale law school

  1. YLS Dean examines free speech issues

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    Two Yale professional school deans spoke freely about the First Amendment and freedom of speech at the School of Management Monday afternoon.

    Yale Law School Dean Robert Post LAW ’77  and SOM Dean Edward Snyder discussed how organizations, including private universities, regulate speech without infringing on First Amendment rights. The discussion was part of a “Convening Yale” speaker series at SOM featuring Yale’s leading researchers.

    Post, who is an expert on constitutional law, addressed a full classroom of 60 SOM students. He emphasized that the First Amendment has a political focus which does not include a non-political environments like schools or companies. Post also shared his thoughts on the Citizens United U.S. Supreme Court case, Edward Snowden and the controversial letter that the University of Chicago sent to incoming freshmen defending free speech on campus.

    “Yale cannot violate the First Amendment in any way because we are a private organization,” Post said.

    Post said he disagreed with the conventional view that free speech creates a marketplace of ideas in which the truth can be pursued and instead argued that only people who specialize in a field can pursue truth in that subject. The discipline needed for such specialization, he added, requires a regulation of knowledge and speech.

    The purpose of the First Amendment, in Post’s view, rests on the notion that everyone has the right to his or her own political opinions. However, Post said that a total freedom of speech is impossible and undesirable in other realms of life beyond politics. An organization’s leader cannot sacrifice the organization’s larger purpose for its employees’ unrestrained freedom of speech, he said.

    Applying this argument to organizations like Yale, Post said Yale and most universities should regulate speech in a way that facilitates the education of its students.

    “The kind of freedom that is required to serve the purpose of critical education is not freedom of speech, which implies a political foundation, but instead academic freedom,” Post said, adding that academic freedom requires the regulation of speech. For instance, Post said that a college course needs to accomplish some end, and the professor must guide the discussion to reach that end.

    After the talk, Post said in an interview that the classroom is only one of the many domains within a university and that speech regulation in a classroom setting cannot be applied to other settings like residential colleges. Referring to last year’s Halloween controversy in Silliman College, Post said residential colleges require more protection, given that they are living spaces.

    Post also commented on the University of Chicago letter, which denounced trigger warnings and intellectual safe spaces.

    “This letter is very much premised on the freedom that someone would have as a political actor,” Post said. “That’s not the way we teach classes, not the way we judge the speech of professors when we tenure them or don’t tenure them, not the way any sane person would conduct education. We care very much that our students feel included… it’s also a matter of encouraging the students to speak their mind.”

    Yet freedom of speech is not always guaranteed in the political realm, as Post acknowledged in discussing the release of classified government information by Edward Snowden. Post said Snowden was contractually obliged to keep information secret in his position at the Central Intelligence Agency. Defenders of Snowden cannot justify his leaks using the First Amendment, Post said.

    Post also said that the Citizens United Supreme Court case was wrongly decided because it permits corporations to weigh in on political discourse in a manner that marginalizes individual voices.

    “If I don’t think the government is responsive to public opinion, but to those corporations, then my freedom of speech doesn’t mean anything; there is no reason to protect the speech at all,” Post said.

    Post also criticized the way universities implement Title IX regulations, which he said are really about equality of the sexes. Post said in an interview that people often misread Title IX as the “anti-rape law,” but in fact it was designed to ensure equal access to education.

    Post added that universities put disproportionate resources into punishment rather than enforcing equality.

    While the talk was not specifically tailored to SOM students, SOM professor David Bach said it is essential for future managers to understand the First Amendment.

    “Part of our interest is to give our students guidance on what kind of environment they should foster later on in the workplace,” Bach said.

    Certain parts of the talk raised concerns among audience members. For example, Norma Gibson SOM ’17 said she was worried that the homogeneous academic leadership at most universities stifles diversity.

    Gibson added that unlike the sciences, where an idea can be empirically wrong, subjects like history and art tend to allow and welcome more controversy, thriving with more robust freedom of speech.

    “If your academics are primarily white men, then what do you get? You get more white men,” Gibson said. “If the academics assessing truth are homogenous in demographics or ideologies, the result is a self-perpetuating cycle of ideas rather than true academic discourse.”

    Economics professor and Nobel laureate Robert Shiller spoke previously in the “Convening Yale” series, and former Head of Silliman College Nicholas Christakis is scheduled to speak on Nov. 8.

  2. YLS alumni award to two governors

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    The Law School awarded its annual Yale Law School Alumni Award of Merit to two sitting governors last Saturday: Gov. Jerry Brown LAW ’64 and Gov. Gina Raimondo LAW ’98.

    Brown has served as the governor of California since 2011, and Raimondo is in her second year in office as governor of Rhode Island. Raimondo also served as a member of the Yale University Council, an advisory body to the University president, and was appointed alumni fellow of the Yale Corporation in 2014 for a six-year term.

    The award was based on the candidates’ contribution to public service and to the legal profession and was decided by the Yale Law School Association Executive Committee, a committee that helps Law School alumni stay connected, according to Janet Conroy, director of communications and public affairs at the Law School. Conroy said the award is typically given to an individual or group of alumni or faculty whose contributions are in some way associated with one another.

    For example, in 2014, the award was given to three sitting justices of the Supreme Court, and in 2010, it was given to four Law School alumni who pioneered environmental law.

    “The award only reinforces for me the lessons I learned throughout school: the importance of applying responsibility, honesty and empathy into politics,” Raimondo told the News. “Ultimately, the school has granted me the ability to bring people together — and I thank the University for the skills I was afforded, the service I’ve been urged to pursue and the engagement I now practice daily.”

    During the annual All Alumni Luncheon on Saturday, Yale Law School Dean Robert Post LAW ’77 praised Brown for his courage in improving California’s fiscal outlook. For example, when California had a $16 billion deficit early in his current term, Brown managed to address voters’ concerns with his propositions for fiscal reform that reversed the state’s plight, Post said.

    Post also commented on Raimondo’s ability to turn dire situations into blessings, mentioning in particular her decision to enter politics when Rhode Island suffered from budget cuts that shuttered local libraries.

    “Like Brown, Raimondo knew what needed to be done, and she did it,” Post said at the Saturday gathering.

    Law professor Roberta Romano LAW ’80 expressed her wish to see more individuals like Raimondo, Romano’s former student and research assistant, in public service.

    “She is a can-do person who understands the calling of politics and is the rare elected official who is willing to take on tough issues where the social benefits will occur in the longer term,” Romano said.

    Former president and chair of the executive committee Cynthia Cwik ’83 LAW ’87 praised both governors for their enthusiasm and cooperative spirit in dealing with challenges. She added that this year’s award ceremony was especially “poignant” as it marked the last year when Post will serve as the law school dean. Post will not seek another term when his current term expires in summer 2017, University President Peter Salovey told the News in early October.

    The Alumni Award of Merit was established in 1957.

  3. Murder With an Exclamation Point

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    “Murder and Women in the 19th Century,” at the Sterling Memorial Law Library, confronts viewers with death, rape and assault — all consolidated into two neat glass cases.

    The exhibit features illustrated pamphlets that depict some of the 19th century’s most famous murder cases involving women, whether as victims or perpetrators. And although many of the pamphlets contained attractive typography and eye-catching drawings, the brutality they depicted made for an unsavory contrast.

    My eye shifted from one gruesome scene to another and finally focused on a black and white drawing neatly placed in the corner of one of the two displays. The drawing depicted the “beautiful” Miss Alice A. Bowlsby, victim of the Trunk Tragedy. Occupying the upper half of the image was a group of men in top hats crowded around a trunk, peering into its horrifying contents. The looks on their faces were worried, but also overwhelmingly curious.

    Although billed as a legal history, the exhibit also chronicles a history of voyeurism. As I examined each piece, I felt transported — like a rubbernecker on an extremely lethal highway. And despite my horror, I was enthralled.  As I looked from image to image, from one cheaply produced pamphlet to another, I felt like one of those unapologetically curious men in top hats.

    At the top of most pamphlets was a price, ranging from ten cents to about 25. Just below, most featured bold lettering exclaiming some of the case’s most scandalous details: “The Unfortunate Wife is now Dying in Prison!” The pamphlets’ aesthetic reminded me of cereal-boxes boasting prizes inside — prizes that never quite lived up to the hype. Similarly, the facts of each murder were never quite as colorful as the headline suggested.

    Each headline promised to provide the “ultimate,” tantalizing details about the grotesque event. Yet each pamphlet was starkly unoriginal. In most, the woman was “beautiful,” “pretty” or “unfortunate.”  “Pretty Rose Ambler, the Connecticut Beauty” reads one. All we glean about Ambler’s life is a one-liner that communicates her general physical attractiveness. “Pretty” tells us nothing about Ms. Ambler’s personality, presence or relationships. Anybody interested in 19th century gender-roles would have field day.

    It makes me wonder, did these people get funerals with their loved ones? Or was this it?

    For the purposes of the pamphlet, that one-liner sufficed, coloring the subject in just enough to win the viewer’s affection. This, in turn, made her death worth 10 cents. The accumulation of so many murder stories in the exhibit seemed like a huge mass grave in which the personalities of the victims (or criminals, in some cases) was lost in a sea of indistinct faces.

    Murders weren’t the only 19th century occurrences to merit pamphlets, which were also used to spread information about topics like religion, politics and even sex. The universality of the medium further homogenized the lives and deaths of these individual women.

    But sensationalist pamphlets provided people with a desperately needed sense of involvement in another world. “Be the Judge, Be the Jury,” read the cover of one publication. This sounds like the title of a children’s game. Was this the 19th century version of The Sims? Unlike computer-generated automatons, though, these were real people dying, something these mass-produced pamphlets make it easy to forget.

  4. Law students reject Business Insider ‘most impressive’ list

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    When approached by Business Insider to compile a list of the most impressive students at Yale Law School, students at the school were reportedly “outraged.”

    Business Insider recently published a list entitled “The 26 Most Impressive Students at Yale Right Now. But when the publication contacted leaders of student groups at Yale Law School to solicit nominations for the list’s law school counterpart, most students at Yale Law found the idea offensive, Business Insider wrote.

    “Every one of my classmates at Yale Law School has been a true exemplar of leadership and accomplishment, and there are more fascinating life stories here than I can count,” said one student in response to the request. “As such, I am not comfortable distinguishing people for a most impressive feature, and indeed one of the strengths of YLS and its culture is the high caliber of each student in attendance.”

    Some students told Business Insider they think the list would violate the collaborative spirit of the school.

    “Thanks, but no thanks. I understand what you guys are trying to do and I’m sure it’s very good for BI’s business, but your project strikes me as against the community spirit of Yale Law School, so I’d rather not participate,” wrote another student in response.

    On the flip side, Harvard Law students were happy to participate and offered “positive responses,” according to Business Insider. Guess that’s another reason to choose Yale.

  5. On popularity, Law School still No. 1

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    Yale Law School claimed the No. 1 spot on U.S. News and World Report’s list of the 10 most popular law schools in the nation.

    Roughly 83 percent of applicants who received admission letters from Yale Law School for the 2012-’13 academic year accepted the offer, a number that is more than three times the national yield average, according to full- and part-time admissions data from 190 ranked law schools. While the national yield average fell from 28 percent in the 2011-’12 academic year to roughly 25 percent in the 2012-’13 academic year, Yale Law School’s yield continues to rise.

    Yale Law School also retained the No. 1 spot in U.S. News’ rankings of the best law schools in the nation released earlier this month. Harvard Law School and Stanford Law School, which tied for the ranking’s second place, also showed yields higher than the national average this academic year.

  6. Online glitch delays Law School apps

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    Yale Law School moved its application deadline from March 1 to March 4 due to a glitch with the Law School Admissions Council’s online system, which is akin to the Common Application for college applicants.

    Due to the glitch, which the council discovered on Feb. 26, some applicants were unable to access the council’s website and use its credential assembly service. Spokeswoman for the council Wendy Margolis told The National Law Journal that though the problem was fixed on the day it emerged, it will take time for the different Internet channels to process the fix.

    “People need to keep trying to access the site, because the fix may have made its way through,” Margolis said. “We understand their pain, and we are doing all we can. People need to be patient.” The council subsequently announced that schools with March 1 application deadlines — approximately one-quarter of all law schools — will continue accepting applications after that date. The University of Pennsylvania Law School pushed back its deadline to March 8.
  7. National Jurist ranks Yale Law School 13th

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    In a surprise turn of events, Yale Law School came in 13th in the newest rankings released by National Jurist Magazine.

    Instead of considering students’ GPA and LSAT scores, the magazine’s system provides “an alternative ranking that was focused more on results and service,” according to the rankings. The final list ranks Stanford Law School first, followed by the University of Virginia School of Law and UC Berkeley School of Law. The magazine ranks the University of Alabama School of Law above both Yale and Harvard law schools.

    But in examining the criteria the National Jurist used to rank the schools, TaxProf — a blog that offers news and resources to tax professors — found that the magazine bases 20 percent of a school’s overall score on data from the website RateMyProfessors.com., a “free-for-all” website that allows students to evaluate professors based on personal experience. According to University of Chicago Law School professor Brian Leiter, the website fails to designate all law professors as law professors, which, in part, invalidates the magazine’s ranking system.

    Check out the full list below:

    1. Stanford Law School
    2. University of Virginia School of Law
    3. UC Berkeley School of Law
    4. Vanderbilt Law School 
    5. University of Alabama School of Law
    6. Harvard Law School
    7. Columbia Law School
    8. University of Pennsylvania Law School
    9. Texas Tech University School of Law
    10. University of North Carolina School of Law
    11. Louisiana State University Law School
    12. Duke University School of Law
    13. Yale Law School
    14. George Washington University
    15. University of Oklahoma
  8. Harold Koh: Lawyer, Professor, Statesman

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    Immediately after Barack Obama’s second inauguration on Jan. 21, the State Department’s legal adviser, Harold Hongju Koh, returned to Yale. Koh served as the dean of Yale Law School from 2004 to 2009 and as a professor there since 1985. Last week, he was appointed Ster- ling Professor of International Law. Koh, who had been a strong critic of President George W. Bush’s ’68 “War on Terror,” is an interna- tionally renowned scholar of human rights. However, in the Obama administration, he has come under fire from former allies for his expan- sive views on the president’s authority to use unmanned drones to kill suspected terrorists abroad. On Tuesday, Koh spoke at a packed Master’s Tea in Davenport. Hours before that, WEEKEND sat down with Koh to discuss executive authority, drones and who he wants to see fill the next opening on the Supreme Court.

    Q. I have been told that as a professor you were a strong critic of overly broad executive power. In 1990, you wrote a brief challenging President George H. W. Bush’s ’48 authority to fight in the Gulf War, and in 1992 and ’93, you sued the United States government and the president. How has your work in the executive branch under President Barack Obama changed your views on executive power, if at all?

    A. It hasn’t changed my views at all. I believe in a government of checks and balances. And I believe that an energetic executive is an important piece of that. I think that the thing that’s changed the most is just a political fact, which is that Congress has had much more difficulty constructively engaging on these questions. In most countries in the world, the legislature can pass a budget or make sure you don’t default on your debt, and [Congress’s failure to do these things] is increasingly becoming a problem in this country. So, the executive obviously has to act according to constitutional rules, and if you’re going to do so in cooperation with Congress, so much the better.

    Q. Speaking of executive power, in 2009, you became the legal adviser to the State Department. In that capacity, in May of 2010, you said that using drone strikes against al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations was a lawful military action and not an assassination, which is banned by executive order. Can you explain to an undergraduate audience the distinction between legal targeted killings and illegal assassinations?

    A. What occurs in the context of an armed conflict or war is not assassination. If a general of the Japanese government launches an attack at Pearl Harbor and kills thousands of Americans, we declare war on the country, and, in the course of the conflict, he’s one of the people who’s considered to be an enemy leader, then that is a lawful use of force. All killing is tragic. But there is a different between lawful and unlawful tools of war. So, 3,000 are killed in New York for going to work, by leaders of a nonstate actor, and the question is, can you respond to those leaders, after Congress has declared war on them and after we’re in an armed conflict with them?

    Q. Yet while you were a professor you criticized George W. Bush’s ’68 “War on Terror” as unconstitutional because it involved capturing “enemy combatants” abroad and holding them without trial at Guantanamo Bay. In Obama’s administration, the government has used aerial drone strikes to kill suspected terrorists. To the casual observer, it seems like there’s a tension between denouncing imprisonment and supporting drone strikes (which can have collateral civilian casualties). Can you explain what appears to be a contradiction?

    A. Torture is always unlawful, even in wartime and even against your enemies. In an armed conflict, the laws of war police the line between lawful killing — which is of people you’re at war with, like Osama bin Laden — and unlawful ones. And so, you can be opposed to torture in all situations, as an illegal means of the use of force — even in wartime. But if you think your government is engaged in a lawful armed conflict, it has to have the authorities that go along with it, lawfully.

    Q. For almost two years, you were among the only Obama administration officials to speak publicly about the legal basis for aerial drone strikes to kill American enemies. You then justified the administration’s decision to engage in a conflict against Libya without congressional approval because the president does not need congressional approval to engage in “hostilities.” Because of these statements, a number of your old allies have publicly criticized you. Has the criticism from old friends and allies made you rethink any of your positions?

    A. No. First of all, the two things you mentioned have gotten a lot more press than 95 percent of the way I actually spent my time. So I always find this interesting. But a simple fact is this: I’m not the only person who said that congressional approval wasn’t necessary. John Boehner said congressional approval wasn’t necessary. Harry Reid said congressional approval wasn’t necessary. Nancy Pelosi said congressional approval wasn’t necessary. And John Kerry, as chairman of the [Senate] Foreign Relations Committee, said it wasn’t necessary. And Congress had made it clear that they would not approve what was going on, although they wanted the executive branch to do something. … My real question is: Was the War Powers Resolution, which was passed to stop future Vietnams, supposed to be used to allow more Rwandas and Srebrenicas? And my view was that was not the situation they were thinking of. I had written dozens of articles on the War Powers Resolution, and I understood the legislative history of it. We never said that the War Powers Resolution was unconstitutional. We just said it didn’t apply to that circumstance. And I, to this day, think it doesn’t.

    Q. Over the last several years, whenever a new vacancy on the Supreme Court has opened up, your name has been raised to fill it. If you could choose one person other than yourself, who would be your dream nominee?

    A. I think probably Hillary Clinton [LAW ’73].

    Q. Would you care to explain why?

    A. She’s a very smart lawyer who understands how law and politics work together. She might have other thoughts about how to spend her time, but she would be an obvious good candidate.

    By the way, Barack Obama is not precluded, and he’ll be a pretty young guy who’s done with electoral office in four years, so that would be interesting. You know, William Howard Taft 1878 sat on the Supreme Court after he was president, so it’s not unprecedented.

    Q. The Supreme Court has been in the news quite a lot in the last couple years, especially with the controversial Citizens United and Affordable Care Act cases. How do you feel about the overall direction of the court? Do you feel it is too partisan or too activist, too liberal or too conservative?

    A. Well, it’s a very conservative court. I think that it’s different factions with one particular justice playing a swing role. So, as a result, it reaches some results in one direction and some results in another direction. I think, though, the thing that I worry about is that the Supreme Court decides many fewer cases, and there are large parts of American life and global life that it really has no opinion on. When you’re a first-year law student, you think that the Supreme Court occupies the world of law, and then when you’ve been the legal adviser of the State Department, it’s surprising how many issues you deal with in which the Supreme Court has absolutely nothing to say. That’s because of restrictions on its jurisdiction and its power to express views.

    Q. Speaking of law schools, there is a proposal gaining traction in New York that would allow law students to sit for the bar after two years of law school — in other words, you wouldn’t need a J.D. Do you think that’s a good idea? What do you think would be the impact that would have on law schools?

    A. I don’t think it’s a good idea. But you have to put this into perspective. There’s always been an apprenticeship route to taking the bar. In the old days, people graduated from college and they worked for a law office, and then they took the bar and they didn’t take any classes. So the rise of the professional law school, as a three-year entity, is very much a product of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.

    But I think law schools have done a lot better to become fuller experiences. It’s not just the study of legal rules, but it’s clinical practice, extracurricular activities, summer internships. I think that there’s still plenty of work to be done.

    Q. Related to that, in 1985 you left the Justice Department and took a job teaching at Yale Law School. Why did you leave a job in public service and become a professor?

    A. So, in Korea, there’s a term called “sun sang nim,” which means teacher. But it actually means more like Jedi Master. It’s a term of reverence. Teachers are the greatest thing in Asian culture. And it’s an easy decision to go be a teacher. My father once said to me the way you shape the future is by the students you teach. And this time when I left the State Department, I mentioned a movie called “Mr. Holland’s Opus.” I don’t know if you’ve seen it. It’s about a guy who’s a music teacher who thinks his job is to write the great symphony, but he turns out teaching many students and his opus is actually the students he influenced. I feel the same way.

    Maybe in your own life you don’t accomplish everything you personally would like to accomplish, but you can challenge students to think more broadly about their own futures, and then, who knows? At the end of your life, it’s all of the people who’ve been affected by the ideas you’ve tried to convey and what they accomplish that count. The law professors who taught Bill Clinton [LAW ’73], for whom I served in one administration, and Hillary Clinton, had an unbelievable impact, even though nobody remembers their names or what they taught them.

  9. Law students uphold Yale’s dominance in wine


    Victory is sweet. But as five Yale Law School students learned Tuesday evening, victory preceded by wine is even sweeter.

    Besting opponents from Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, UChicago and UPenn law schools “by a wide margin,” a team representing the Yale Law School Wine Society — founded in 2012 by Tyce Walters ’09 LAW ’13 — took first place in the U.S. Intercollegiate Bordeaux tasting championship held Tuesday at the French Consulate in New York City. After enduring a series of wine-related trivia questions and blind tastings, the team will travel to Château Lafite Rothschild in Bordeaux, France this June (all expenses paid!) to compete against other collegiate teams from the U.K., France and China. But more importantly, the team proved that when it comes to wine, nobody messes with Yale.

    “This year, with a better sense of the competition’s content and format, we prepared during the fall by doing a few blind-tasting practice runs and by studying the history, geography and classification systems of Bordeaux,” said YLS Wine Society member Laura Femino LAW ’14. “We suspect that nailing the vintage (2007) on one round of reds — we were the only team to do so — secured our victory.”

    Femino added that the team is “beyond excited” for the final showdown in France, and will be continuing their training this spring. The winning team was composed of Femino, Walters, Webb Lyons LAW ’14, Daniel Weisfield ’07 LAW ’14 SOM ’14 and Joseph Pomianowski LAW ’15.

    Congratulations, YLS Wine Society! We never doubted you for a second. You know what they say, after all: In vinum, lux ET veritas.

  10. Rodríguez named first tenured Hispanic law professor

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    Cristina Rodríguez ’95 LAW ’00 will become professor of constitutional, administrative and immigration law at Yale Law School this semester.

    Rodríguez, who was a visiting professor at the Law School in fall 2009, will be the school’s first tenured Hispanic professor. She will assume her position on Jan. 28, leaving a post as the deputy assistant attorney general in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel.

    “Cristina is the nation’s leading theorist of immigration law,” Law School Dean Robert Post said in a statement published on the school’s website. “Her work is both practical and cutting edge, and she brings with her a wealth of experience and knowledge.”

    After graduating from Yale College, Rodríguez attended Oxford University on a Rhodes scholarship, receiving a master of letters in modern history.

  11. Former law dean Harold Koh to return to Yale


    Former Dean of Yale Law School Harold Koh is expected to leave his position as the State Department’s legal adviser to return to the Law School as a full-time professor in January 2013, the Wall Street Journal reported.

    Koh, who was rumored in recent months to have been a potential candidate to succeed University President Richard Levin, was nominated to the State Department by President Barack Obama in March 2009. Previously, he had served as the 15th dean of the Law School after his appointment in 2004.

    Within the Obama administration, Koh has been known for advocating Obama’s drone program against militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan, a position some have challenged as at odds with Koh’s record of criticism against former President George W. Bush’s legal approach to the war on terror.

    “U.S. targeting practices, including lethal operations conducted with the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, comply with all applicable law, including the laws of war,” Koh said in a March 2010 speech, condoning the legality of targeted killing by aerial drone strikes in countries the U.S. government believes are dangerous.

    Koh earned his law degree from Harvard Law School and is the Gerard C. and Bernice Latrobe Smith Professor of International Law at Yale Law School.