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Harvard Law School administration ignores demand to promise not to hire Trump alumni

No response three weeks after the deadline

Harvard students petitioned law school administrators to promise not to hire former senior Trump Administration officials, but the administration school does not appear ready to agree to this.

Emma Leibowitz, a law student, circulated the Actionnetwork.org petition starting on January 20, the day of President Joe Biden’s inauguration. She led the petition efforts along with the People’s Parity Project, a liberal law student network founded at Harvard.

Leibowitz established a deadline of February 10 for the administration, including law school Dean John Manning, to agree to “not hire or affiliate with any senior official in the Trump administration or Congressional leader who was complicit in the administration’s immoral actions.” A longer version of the petition lists about 200 signers.

However, almost three weeks after the deadline, the university has yet to agree to the demand. There have been no updates posted on the original petition about what the petitioners plan to do next.

The College Fix requested a comment from Manning and Jeff Neal, the university’s media relations director, twice in the past three weeks via email, but have yet to receive a response.

The Fix asked if the administration had reviewed the petition and if the law school would be open to hiring any former Trump officials.

Additionally, the law school administrators did not provide comment to the student newspaper The Crimson in a February 17 article either. Leibowitz confirmed to the student paper that she did not receive a response by February 10.

The Fix could not reach Leibowitz for comment. The Fix sent a Facebook message to the “Civil Liberties Review,” a law review at Harvard, where Leibowitz is an editor. The group said it would share a message from but Leibowitz never responded.

The Fix also reached out to the People’s Parity Project through Twitter. The Project did not respond to requests for comment for an update on the petition nor for contact info for Leibowitz.

The Fix asked the Project if it opposed all former Trump Administration officials, even those who later spoke out in opposition to Trump. The Fix also asked what the next steps were for the petition effort now that the deadline has passed, but did not receive a response to any of these questions.

Harvard law professor urges peers, students to oppose petition

At least one well-known Harvard Law professor finds the petition problematic.

“This is modern McCarthyism,” Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz told The Fix via email. “I strongly oppose litmus tests and loyalty oaths by universities and law schools. I will strongly oppose this petition and hope that the faculty and students join in this principled opposition.”

Dershowitz helped defend President Trump during his first impeachment trial and has been an outspoken supporter of some of his policies.

“HLS needs intellectual and political diversity, rather than imposed uniformity of views or party affiliation,” Dershowitz told The Fix. “A policy of partisan excision, if adopted, would also endanger both federal and private funding to the university.”

He called such a policy “both wrong and foolish.”

The university at large has had various responses to such petitions.

An campaign in November 2020 demanded restrictions on Trump officials speaking and working at Harvard University in hopes of protecting democratic ideals, calling on the university to create “accountability guidelines.”

Dershowitz and Sean Spicer, a former press secretary for Trump, both criticized those attempts in comments at the time to The Fix.

No plans to implement the restrictions have been released by the university’s administration.
The university’s Institute of Politics recently hired Bonnie Glick, a former USAID administrator under Trump, as a 2021 Spring Fellow.

However, Kennedy School of Government removed Congresswoman Elise Stefanik, a Harvard graduate, from the political science advisory committee in January 2021 due to her public assertions about voter fraud. Students had circulated a petition garnering over 700 signatures.

MORE: Harvard cancels course on innovative policing tactics after activists complain

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About the Author
Esther Wermer -- Boyce College