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

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Professor Codevilla's Analysis of the Larry Tribe Ghostwriting Scandal and Kagan's Whitewash of It

A reader alerted us to a thought-provoking analysis of the broader implications of the Larry Tribe ghostwriting scandal, and Dean Elena Kagan's whitewashing of that scandal, recently published by Boston University professor of international relations Angelo M. Codevilla, in an article on America's current "regime class" which is available in its entirety here.  The portion of the article addressing the Tribe matter is available in a blog post published three days ago, here.

In Professor Cocevilla's view, once someone manages to join the "regime class" by associating with "the right people, giving the required signs that one is on the right side," and showing "that he shares the manners, the tastes, the interests of the class, gives lip service to its ideals and shibboleths and is willing to accommodate the interests of its senior members," ordinary rules of accountability no longer apply:
If, for example, you are Lawrence Tribe in 1984, Harvard Professor of law, leftist pillar of the establishment, you can “write” your magnum opus by using the products of your student assistants, Ron Klain and Barack Obama. A decade later, after Klain admits to having written some parts of the book, and the other parts are found to be verbatim or paraphrases of a book published in 1974, you can claim (perhaps correctly) that your plagiarism was “inadvertent,” and you can count on the Law School’s dean, Elena Kagan, to appoint a committee including former and future Harvard president Derek Bok that issues a secret report that “closes” the incident. Incidentally, Obama ends up as President and Kagan a justice of the Supreme Court. Not one of these people did their job: the professor did not write the book himself, the assistant plagiarized instead of researching, the dean and the committee did not hold the professor accountable, and all ended up rewarded.
We commend Professor Codevilla for addressing the Tribe matter, and for his perspective on its broader implications.  However, we note a small error in his analysis:  the book that, according to reports, was largely ghostwritten for Tribe by Barack Obama was not God Save This Honorable Court (published in 1985, on which Ron Klain was the ghostwriter).  Obama's ghostwriting work was on Abortion:  The Clash of Absolutes, published in 1992.   As Ramesh Ponnuru has demonstrated in detail (see here), in setting forth the historical context of the controversy over abortion in that book, Obama and Tribe relied heavily on a Supreme Court amicus brief signed by hundreds of liberal academic historians which was a fraud: it "falsified the sources on which it purported to rely, and it contradicted the published work of many of the signatories . . . ."

[ 7/17 UPDATE:  Far be it for us to claim we had anything to do with any tweaking of journalistic accuracy, but it appears Professor Codevilla edited his essay in response to our comments, to remove the inaccurate reference to Obama as a purported ghostwriter on the God Save book (he also corrected Professor Tribe's first name, from "Lawrence" to "Laurence").  This morning, law professor Glenn Reynolds of "Instapundit" fame (who has been kind enough to link to our blog in the past) posted this "read the whole thing" comment about Professor Codevilla's apparently final version of his article, which appears on the American Spectator website here.  We're posting this update not out of any "gotcha" attitude, but simply to make clear to readers that our post three days ago accurately quoted the version of the article which had been called to our attention.]

Of course, that's hardly the only publication produced by Tribe in which he and his ghostwriters have taken the material in an advocacy-driven, somewhat suspect amicus brief and recycled it, presenting it as the supposedly objective product of neutral scholarly inquiry.  Read this blog post, and watch this video.

[7/15 UPDATE: In case you have difficulty viewing the Harvard Parody videos, either as embedded on this blog or at HarvardParody.wordpress.com, the videos are also posted on YouTube on the Harvard Parody channel, here: http://www.youtube.com/user/harvardparody]