2016 and Beyond: Georgetown Law Authors Survey the Legal Landscape

December 1, 2016

Want a personal glimpse into the life of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg? Ask Adjunct Professor Mary Hartnett, one of the justice’s authorized biographers. Looking to explore health law in 2016-2017? Ask Professor Larry Gostin, who recently published Public Health Law: Power, Duty, Restraint & Global Management of Infectious Disease After Ebola. Wondering about the tensions between national security and privacy? Ask Professor Laura Donohue — who literally wrote the book on The Future of Foreign Intelligence: Privacy and Surveillance in a Digital Age.

These professors and others came together at Georgetown Law on November 21 to discuss eight groundbreaking books they published in 2016 — and how their respective subject matter might change with a new presidential administration.

“Certainly the Trump Administration is thinking hard about where to set a starting point for the regulation of financial markets and banks, and all of that gets worked into the book,” said Professor Donald Langevoort, whose book Selling Hope, Selling Risk: Corporations, Wall Street, and the Dilemmas of Investor Protection was published by Oxford University Press in June.

Donohue — whose book The Future of Foreign Intelligence recently won the 2016 Palmer Civil Liberties Prize — noted that the country has seen a radical expansion in national security surveillance authority, along with lowered standards for the collection of foreign intelligence, the use of information for unrelated criminal prosecution and an absence of Fourth Amendment protections to address new technologies. “What’s happening is we are having a steady restriction in terms of our rights,” Donohue said. “If anything, these issues are even more urgent now.”

The event also featured Professor Randy Barnett (Our Republican Constitution: Securing the Liberty and Sovereignty of We the People, HarperCollins), Professor David Cole (Engines of Liberty: The Power of Citizen Activists to Make Constitutional Law, Basic Books), Associate Dean and Professor Rosa Brooks (How Everything Became War and the Military Became Everything: Tales From the Pentagon, Simon & Schuster) and Hartnett (Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s My Own Words, Simon & Schuster), who collaborated with the justice and also with Professor Emerita Wendy Williams.

Brooks’s book, by the way, was just named one of the 100 Notable Books of 2016 by The New York Times Book Review, which calls it “[a] disturbing exploration of the erosion of boundaries between war and peace.”

The discussion was moderated by Professor Victoria Nourse, whose book Misreading Law, Misreading Democracy was published by Harvard University Press in September. The book proposes reforming the way lawyers learn how to interpret statutes by teaching legislative process in schools. “The book is a call…to legal education to teach something about Congress,” said Nourse, noting that the day after the election, she received quite a few calls from people wanting to know about Senate filibusters or the reconciliation process. “Why I had to answer these question[s] is mystifying to me…,” Nourse said. “This should be taught in every law school classroom in America.”