Harvard Plagiarism Archive

"[T]he problem of writers . . . passing off the work of others as their own . . . [is] a phenomenon of some significance."
PROFESSOR LAURENCE TRIBE, e-mail to Dean Lawrence Velvel, 9/13/2004

"'I . . . delegated too much responsibility to others . . .,' [Prof. Charles Ogletree] said. 'I was negligent
in not overseeing more carefully the final product that carries my name.' * * * Ogletree told The Crimson that
he had not read the passage of Balkin’s book that appears in his own work. An assistant inserted the material
into a manuscript . . . . But Ogletree said he was closely involved in most of the drafting of the book . . . ."

STEVEN MARKS, "Ogletree Faces Discipline for Copying Text," The Harvard Crimson, 9/13/2004

"'Ronald Klain . . . then only a first-year student at Harvard law . . . spent most of his time with
Tribe working on Tribe's [1985] book God Save This Honorable Court,'" the Legal Times added in 1993.
* * * 'Many of Klain's friends and former colleagues say that he wrote large sections of the book . . . .'"

JOSEPH BOTTUM, "The Big Mahatma," The Weekly Standard, 10/4/2004

"[A]fter several plagiarism scandals broke over distinguished faculty members at Harvard's law school, including
Laurence Tribe,a group of students there set up a blog, Harvard Plagiarism Archive, to follow the University's
handling of the problem. They believe that the University, President Summers, and Dean Elena Kagan
essentially white-washed the scandal and are demanding further action.

PROF. RALPH LUKER, History News Network's "Cliopatria" blog,4/26/2005

“The Tribe and Ogletree matters have catalyzed bitter complaints from Harvard students that the university
employs a double standard. . . . The students have every right to be incensed over this gross double standard.
They in fact ought to raise hell peacefully about it: a constant barrage of letters, emails, statements . . . .”

DEAN LAWRENCE VELVEL, "Velvel on National Affairs" blog, 4/28/2005

"If you want to keep track of this story, I recommend the new Harvard Plagiarism Archive. . . . [I]t's pretty thorough."
TIMOTHY NOAH, Slate's "Chatterbox" blog,9/28/2004

"[Y]ou have done a wonderful service to all by operating the AuthorSkeptics website . . . a fine public service."
DEAN LAWRENCE VELVEL, author of "Velvel on National Affairs," e-mail to AuthorSkeptics, 4/19/2005

Friday, February 03, 2006

Confirmation That Tribe's Assistants Wrote "Large Tracts" of His Treatise

Last week Dean Velvel had a long post, of excellent quality as usual, discussing the problem of ghostwriting and addressing yet again the Tribe/Kagan affair as it relates to the "ghost in the room."  You can read it here.

Of particular interest is Velvel's report that he's starting to think we may well be correct in our assertions (in part based on constant talk at the law school) that for years Tribe has been running a ghostwriting operation in which his students or former students draft most of his books and articles:

"I spoke with a professor who told me, fortuitously, that Tribe had asked him to work on American Constitutional Law when he was a student at Harvard Law School, and he knew several people who had done so. (Working for Tribe was, he said, as one would think, a plum job that would lead to recommendations for prestigious judicial clerkships, that would lead to other prestigious jobs, etc.) The people who had worked for Tribe, said this professor, had written large tracts of Tribe’s treatise."

Also, Dean Velvel discusses in the most detail ever the reasons for thinking that Dean Elena Kagan had a conflict of interest when she decided to involve herself in the investigation of the ghostwriting and plagiarism charges against Professor Tribe in connection with his 1985 book God Save This Honorable Court.  The gist of it:

So . . . . it begins to look, does it not, as if the Dean of Harvard Law School, one of the two persons (President Summers being the other) who should have but apparently did not punish Tribe, was one of the participants in what some people think was "in effect a ghostwriting mill" that Tribe ran to prepare the treatise which is one of the main components of his fame. If all this is so, there was no way in hell, was there, that Kagan could have punished him for having had one or more persons ghostwrite (very large?) portions of his book on confirmation of Justices? (It is claimed by some that the book was in effect written for him by a student, and now Democrat politician, named Ron Klain.) I mean, if all this stuff about Tribe running a ghostwriting mill is true, then Kagan was a participant in the ghostwriting machine by which Tribe wrote his treatise (and for all I know may have gotten various jobs partly because of his recommendation(s)). How could a participant in his ghostwriting mill punish him for it?

Oh yes, one could say that Kagan was in a different position than Tribe back in the ’80s. She was a student. She was no doubt eager to win Tribe’s plaudits and approval and get recognition and recommendations from him and to get prominently published thanks from him in his book. One might almost sympathize with her if one didn’t suspect for various reasons that she likely is one of those east coast types, one of those Harvard/Yale types, like the Clintons, for whom she worked, who would run over their grandmothers to get ahead. Regardless, however, how could Kagan punish Tribe for conduct she had participated in? ’Tain’t likely, Jeb.