Ben Folds, Cake Announce Co-Headlining 2019 Summer Tour

first_imgFollowing the enormous success of their co-headlining tour last summer, which Pollstar noted as one of the highest grossing co-headline tours of summer 2018, Bend Folds and CAKE are teaming up again for a round of shows throughout September 2019.Ben Folds and CAKE will open up their tour with a performance at Bonner, MT’s KettleHouse Amphitheater on September 5th, followed by stops at Redmond, WA’s Marymoor Park (9/6); Troutdale, OR’s McMenamins Edgefield Amphitheater (9/7); Nampa, ID’s Idaho Center Amphitheater (9/8); Las Vegas, NV’s The Joint/Hard Rock Hotel & Casino (9/10); Sacramento, CA’s Golden 1 Center (9/11); Mountain View, CA’s Shoreline Amphitheatre (9/13); Irvine, CA’s FivePoint Amphitheatre (9/14); Los Angeles, CA’s Greek Theatre (9/15); Austin, TX’s Austin360 Amphitheater (9/18); and a tour-closing performance at Grand Prairie, TX’s The Theatre at Grand Prairie on September 19th.Folds explains in a press release, “CAKE are masters, and they happen to be my friends. “So, yes, let’s do this!”“We had so much fun with Ben last summer that we decided to do it again, this time in the west,” says CAKE’s frontman John McCrea. CAKE’s multi-instrumentalist and backing vocalist Vince DiFiore adds, “Last year we had the great honor to tour with Ben, who inspired us with incredible musicianship and memorable songs. It was sad to end that tour, so now a great thrill to be anticipating another with the actual artistic advisor to the National Symphony Orchestra.”Tickets for the upcoming co-headlining tour go on sale this Friday, April 19th.For more information and a full list of the bands’ upcoming tour dates, head to Ben Folds‘ or CAKE‘s websites.Ben Folds & Cake Co-Headlining 2019 Tour:SEPTEMBER:5 – Bonner, MT – KettleHouse Amphitheater6 – Redmond, WA – Marymoor Park7 – Troutdale, OR – McMenamins Edgefield Amphitheater8 – Nampa, ID – Idaho Center Amphitheater10 – Las Vegas, NV – The Joint/Hard Rock Hotel & Casino11 – Sacramento, CA – Golden 1 Center13 – Mountain View, CA – Shoreline Amphitheatre14 – Irvine, CA – FivePoint Amphitheatre15 – Los Angeles, CA – Greek Theatre18 – Austin, TX – Austin360 Amphitheater19 – Grand Prairie, TX – The Theatre at Grand PrairieView Tour Dateslast_img read more

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Gates honored with Morry Award

first_imgProject Morry, a nonprofit, year-round youth development organization dedicated to giving inner-city children from New York and Connecticut life-enhancing learning opportunities, presented Henry Louis Gates Jr., the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard, with its annual award on Nov. 19.last_img

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Evening with Champions

first_img An Evening with Champions Kris Snibbe/Harvard Staff Photographer Get a leg up All at once Emily Hughes ’11 dips low and aims high. Ice blue An expansive shot of the Bright Hockey Center displays the color, whirlwind, and fun of the night’s event. There is a light Linda Yao ’10, wearing her winter coat, operates the spotlight for skaters. Hey, it’s an ice rink after all! Sisters in arms Dazzling bodices and frilly dresses are just a few pleasures of skating. Here, members of Team Excel Junior, which features skaters from 18 New England regions, manage to be both identically dressed and distinctive. Shadow dancing Paul Wylie ’91 and 1976 Olympic medalist Dorothy Hamill move under the spotlight during the 40th anniversary of the Jimmy Fund benefit “An Evening with Champions,” sponsored by Harvard. With her spotlight purring like an old projector, Linda Yao ’10 used a steady hand to follow the cast of famed figure skaters as they shaved graceful ribbons into the ice during “An Evening with Champions.” “La Vie en Rose,” sung by Louis Armstrong, played over the loudspeakers, and a kaleidoscope of light bathed the ice.Over 40 years, the skating event has raised $2.4 million for the Jimmy Fund of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Brett Michael Giblin ’11, who co-chaired the event, said, “I truly believe that the reason this weekend was such a rousing success, from the incredible skating to the nearly perfect execution, was due to the fact that our volunteers were able to keep the objective that they were working toward — helping children with cancer — in the forefront of their minds.”The event struck a personal chord with 2006 Olympics skater Emily Hughes ’11, who first visited Harvard to participate in the event in 2006 to pay tribute to her mother, a cancer survivor. Hughes said, “I’m happy and excited that I can do this every year, and that it can go to a worthy cause. Cancer research has a more personal feel for me.” A shoulder to drape on Kimberly Navarro rides the back of partner Brent Bommentre. last_img read more

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MessageMe test today

first_imgToday (Oct. 7) the Harvard MessageMe emergency notification system will be tested. All MessageMe registered subscribers will receive a test message between noon and 1 p.m. The test message will be delivered as a text message, email, and/or voice mail message depending upon the delivery method selected by each subscriber.  No action will be required as a result of this test. Any and all emergency test messages can and should be deleted.For more information, to sign-up up for service or update your information, visit the MessageMe website.last_img read more

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Lessons from a master

first_imgHarvard University announced today (April 4) that Wynton Marsalis will launch a two-year performance and lecture series on April 28, with an appearance at Sanders Theatre. Currently the artistic director of jazz at Lincoln Center, Marsalis is an accomplished musician, composer, bandleader, and educator who has made the promotion of jazz and cultural literacy his hallmark causes.“Wynton Marsalis is both an internationally acclaimed musician and a leader in educating people about the importance of arts and culture,” Harvard President Drew Faust said. “We are fortunate to have an artist and performer of his caliber on campus to enhance the University’s vibrant arts scene and engage our students, staff, and faculty.”Marsalis plans to make several visits to campus, for two to three days at a time, over the next two years, lecturing on a variety of topics to illuminate the relationship between American music and the American identity. His talks will be punctuated with performances by dancers, Marsalis’ quintet, and other ensembles, including a New Orleans parade band and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra.His lecture performance on April 28, titled “Music as Metaphor,” will feature Ali Jackson (drums), Dan Nimmer (piano), Walter Blanding Jr. (tenor sax), Carlos Henriquez (bass), James Chirillo (guitar and banjo), and Mark O’Connor (violin). The following day, Marsalis will teach a master class to high school musicians at Cambridge Rindge & Latin School.Marsalis’ appointment is the latest example of the University’s closer embrace of the arts since a presidential task force called in 2008 for a concerted effort to increase the presence of the arts on campus.“I am delighted that Harvard has recognized the need to make cultural literacy an integral part of its curriculum,” Marsalis said. “I hope that other institutions will follow suit to foster a deeper appreciation among all Americans for the democratic victory of our cultural legacy.”Since 2008, there has been a renewed focus on bringing prominent artists to campus to engage students and the wider community in the kind of imaginative and innovative thinking that is central to the life of the University.For example, renowned large-scale artist Krzysztof Wodiczko now teaches at the Harvard Graduate School of Design, while this semester Tony-nominated Diane Paulus, artistic director for the Harvard University American Repertory Theater, is teaching “Porgy and Bess: Performance in Context” at Harvard College.  Last year, Harvard announced that the Silk Road Project, founded by renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma, would move its headquarters to Harvard. And this fall, renowned choreographer Liz Lerman, MacArthur grant recipient and founder of the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, will be a visiting lecturer in residence at Harvard.A native of New Orleans, Marsalis is one of America’s most celebrated cultural figures. In addition to nine Grammy awards, he was the first jazz musician to receive the Pulitzer Prize for Music. His numerous international accolades include an honorary membership in Britain’s Royal Academy of Music, the highest decoration for a non-British citizen, and the insignia Chevalier of the Legion of Honor, France’s highest distinction.  He has more than 70 albums to his credit, which have sold over 7 million copies worldwide. By creating and performing an expansive range of brilliant new music for quartets to big bands, chamber music ensembles to symphony orchestras, and tap dance to ballet, Marsalis has expanded the vocabulary of jazz and created a vital body of work that places him among the world’s finest musicians and composers. Harvard awarded him an honorary doctorate in music in 2009.Tickets for Marsalis’ lecture performance at Sanders Theatre will be free of charge, and will become available to the Harvard community on Tuesday (April 12), and to the general public on Thursday (April 14). For more information.last_img read more

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Immersed in the body politic

first_imgWhen Susan Greenhalgh says she studies “biopolitics,” one might imagine a form of futuristic, dystopian science.But Greenhalgh’s interests are hardly that. As the newest professor of anthropology in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, she explores the ways in which policies are shaping how we use and view our bodies here and now. Her work marries large-scale scientific initiatives, from China’s controversial one-child policy to America’s new war on obesity, with the small-scale stories of human lives.Greenhalgh, a native of central Maine, never even took an anthropology course in her years at Wellesley College. But during her senior year, she decided to spend a year off traveling before graduate school.“I didn’t want to be a little rat running around on a treadmill in a cage, without having seen the world,” she said. Mainland China was still closed off to outsiders, so Greenhalgh spent several months in Nepal, where she absorbed the stories of Tibetans who had recently fled China over the Himalayas. That experience — combined with the influence of Margaret Mead’s autobiography “Blackberry Winter” — sold her on anthropology and China studies.The late 1970s was a pivotal time to be a China observer in the West. As Greenhalgh studied for her doctorate in anthropology at Columbia University, China was undergoing an economic and political opening up. After finishing her Ph.D. in 1982, Greenhalgh took a job at the New York–based Population Council as “an anthropologist, policy analyst, and resident China hand,” a fortuitous position that allowed her to travel often and eventually carve out a niche as an authority on the new one-child policy.“There were so many exposés in the American media of the horrific implementation of the one-child policy,” she said. “But almost nobody who was talking about it in the media had any intimate knowledge of China.”She seized the opportunity to counter the dominant Western narrative that Chinese citizens were uniformly coerced into complying with the one-child rule. While atrocities did and still do occur — a round of forced sterilization in the 1980s, abandonment of baby girls, the continued abortion of female fetuses — China’s grappling with its one-child policy has been more nuanced than most Americans realize.“The Chinese state is nothing if not clever and strategic, and brilliant in terms of displaying various forms of statecraft,” she said.Surprisingly, the one-child rule was borne of a selective faith in Western science, as Greenhalgh documented in her best-known book, “Just One Child: Science and Policy in Deng’s China.” The strict policy was the brainchild of a Chinese military scientist, who discovered a set of Western cybernetics equations and applied them to population control.“The usual population experts were silenced,” she said. “It was a gigantic political struggle, in which the power of the military triumphed.”While China originally thought its population growth would hinder economic development, Greenhalgh argues, Communist Party leaders now see their increasingly well-educated, billion-strong workforce as a boon. The one-child policy has slowly morphed from an instrument to bring down birthrates into a more comprehensive social policy that addresses the well-being of women, the migration from the countryside to the cities, and the problem of an imbalanced society with 120 young men for every 100 young women.“China’s very keen to push the nation into the information economy of the 21st century, and it’s trying to promote what it calls scientific citizens,” she said. “From the beginning, it was about not just limiting quantity, but also raising the quality of the Chinese people.”But China is hardly alone in trying to shape the physical and moral character of its people, she maintains. Greenhalgh’s latest work looks at what she calls the new American ideal of “the fit, trim, biocitizen,” created by a constant stream of messages from medical scientists, government leaders, and public health officials.“This public discourse about the obesity epidemic has intensified people’s concerns about their bodies, because weight is now a bona fide ‘disease,’ and weight loss has become a matter of official government policy,” she said. This summer she will publish her first article on the subject, an ethnography of overweight young people in southern California — “the epicenter of the cult of the perfect body” — that looks at their experiences with the constant pressure to lose weight.“It’s one of the greatest biopolitical injustices of our time,” she said.Her interest in the “medicalization” of American life stems in part from her own experiences. In the mid-1990s, when Greenhalgh had just moved across the country to teach at the University of California, Irvine, she was misdiagnosed with fibromyalgia, an incurable syndrome characterized by mysterious full-body pain. She underwent a series of therapies, including medication that caused horrible headaches and cognitive dysfunction.What was worse, she said, was the feeling that her life would be forever altered by the diagnosis. A sports fanatic, she was told to give up in-line skating, kayaking, swimming, hiking, and other activities that she enjoyed so she could lessen the pain. When she finally sought a second opinion — which concluded that her symptoms of fibromyalgia had in fact been produced by the treatments — the veil lifted.“My life can be divided into two parts: before and after,” she said. The experience became the basis for “Under the Medical Gaze,” in which she turned the tools of ethnography on her own life. She saw the book as a way to reclaim her story from the doctor who tried to rewrite it — an all-too-common side effect of the often lopsided power dynamic between physician and patient.She now shares that story with her undergraduate students in a course called “The Woman and the Body,” which she has taught alongside her China courses for the past 15 years. Whether her focus is China’s unmarriageable men, overweight American teenagers, or even her own past, Greenhalgh hopes to demonstrate anthropology’s power to bring unheard or marginalized narratives to the fore.“Students love hearing other people’s stories,” she said. “It’s a very powerful way of teaching things people remember.”last_img read more

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Lessons in boldness

first_imgOne day last month, a dozen high school students stood before Karina Contreras, M.L.A. ’14, as she gestured to several wires hanging vertically inside the Graduate School of Design (GSD). Contreras explained that the students would use tinfoil, construction paper, spaghetti, and the wires to improvise a freestyle design.“Your design will be inspired by the music I’m going to play,” Contreras said. “The music will influence the design, which will change based on each new track. Make sense?”The out-of-the-box exercise was part of Project Link, a four-week program that immerses 10th- through 12th-grade students from Greater Boston in the world of design. Since Project Link’s inception, program leaders have targeted regional high schools that don’t have art or architecture programs.“Project Link evolved from two GSD alumni in particular — Jonathan Evans ’10 and Andy Lantz ’10 — who wanted to encourage more minority participation in the field,” said Julian Bushman-Copp, M.Arch. ’12, who has worked with the program for three years. “They realized that you could only do that by educating students about design at a younger age. Project Link is meant to be the link between high school and design education at the collegiate level.”Participants in the program, which is funded by GSD, spend about three weeks on Harvard’s campus, learning drawing, modeling, and representation techniques associated with architectural design, as well as design perspectives of landscape architecture, urban planning, graphic and industrial design, and the fine arts.Wendy Crizabel Guzman presents her model, which was part ballet studio, part fitness center, and part residential building, to a panel of current and former GSD students. She is a student at Phoenix Charter Academy. Andy Ismael Paul stands in the background.Robert Murray, a sophomore from the John D. O’Bryant School of Mathematics and Science in Roxbury, has gained hands-on experience in a field he has a passion for.“I tried to do architecture on my own, but never had any training, as my school didn’t have any architecture programs,” he said. “I’ve been wanting to do architectural engineering for a while, and the program’s really opened my eyes in that respect — it’s not just about designing buildings, but the process you go through to do that.”Said James Joutras, a sophomore at Weston High School: “I like the fact that you can have such artistic creativity. The teachers have done a great job, and the fact that we’re able to come to Harvard and study here is really nice. It’s a privilege.”The students, said Dasha Ortenberg, M.Arch. ’13, “have skills and understand concepts that I didn’t even understand until I was in graduate school. I really hope that they are both able to improve those skills and [to] learn a new way of thinking about design — that they can take that with them as they continue their education.”The benefits of the program extend to team leaders.“Teaching design is a whole new challenge, and I love it,” Bushman-Copp said. “I’ve often thought that teaching was something I would pursue personally later on, so this has been a great experience in that respect.“For Contreras, whose career in architecture was inspired by a summer course experience as a high school student in California, the program is an opportunity to give back. “That university summer program really helped me because I wasn’t, at the time, very art-driven,” she said. “But it allowed me to submit a portfolio for architecture school at USC, where I got my undergraduate degree.“I really am glad that Harvard does this,” Contreras said. “It’s nice to know that Harvard is reaching out to new generations to help students get involved and really expand their horizons. I think it’s important to carry on that tradition.”Adjusting his design, Murray said, “Architecture has no limits. As long as it’s controlled in the sense that people can live in the building, you can make it however you want, using whatever process works best. It can go as grand as you want it to go. “last_img read more

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Some secrets of longevity

first_imgThe average life expectancy in the United States has fallen behind that of other industrialized nations as the American income gap has widened. In addition, better health habits, including those involving weight control, nutrition, and exercise, clearly influence the effects of aging among segments of the U.S. population.“Widening inequalities in the U.S. are growing over time, not decreasing,” said Lisa Berkman, the Thomas D. Cabot Professor of Public Policy and of Epidemiology at the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) and director of the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies.Addressing an HSPH forum Tuesday called “Living Longer and Happier Lives: The Science Behind Healthy Aging,” she said mortality rates have increased among less-educated American women, and even wealthy Americans have a shorter life expectancy than their European counterparts.“Diet does seem to make a difference,” said Francine Grodstein, professor of epidemiology at HSPH and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. The Nurses’ Health Study, a large longitudinal study that dates back to the 1970s, is a foundation for many of these conclusions.“The higher our body weight and body mass index, the less likely we are to live older, happier, healthier lives,” she said.William Mair, HSPH assistant professor of genetics and complex diseases, said a study that has gained a lot of attention found that reducing body weight by 20 percent in mice increased their longevity.“If you take almost any organism, a fruit fly or a mouse, and reduce food intake by 20 percent, you get pronounced longer life,” he said. The frontier lies in understanding this process on a molecular level to apply the findings to human nutrition, he said.Medical treatment of older people also needs to change because the elderly contract multiple diseases, so curing one at a time does not extend life, he said. “We need to work on the commonality of diseases,” and find what is fundamental “to squeeze the disease period to later in life.”A great deal of scientific attention and interest is focused on mental health and memory as people age.  The better educated are less likely to develop dementia, said Grodstein, though studies don’t explain why.  “Nobody thinks that sitting in a classroom prevents dementia,” she said. So scientists are trying to hone in on what mental processes make a difference.Berkman noted that continuing to work at creative jobs with autonomy and control over schedules and conditions are proven pluses for better health. Even remaining in blue-collar jobs is better than being inactive. In fact, societies with earlier retirement have steeper and stronger declines in health and enjoyment of life.“When people designed work, they did not design it for there to be 30 years afterwards, like a vacation,” she said. Many structures and policies have been in place since the 1950s, when many people died a year or two after they started collecting Social Security.A promising area in warding off dementia involves taking up a personal challenge such as learning to play an instrument or to speak another language, said Thomas Perls, a Boston University professor of medicine and director of the New England Centenarian Study.There is evidence that such mentally challenging pursuits build “functional reserves” that delay dementia, he said. Still, it hasn’t been proven that those who master multiple instruments necessarily live longer or how the process relates to memory loss.“Becoming really good at a difficult crossword puzzle,” he wondered, “does that help you find your keys?”Perls said there are more centenarians than ever to study. Some have terrible health habits, but their genes counterbalance them.“Twenty percent of the population has the genetic wherewithal to get to be 100,” he said. “The next question: Would you want to live to 100?”The session was moderated by Meredith Melnick, editorial director of healthy living for the Huffington Post, which collaborated on the session.last_img read more

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Recruiting bacteria for innovation

first_imgFor many people, biofilms conjure up images of slippery stones in streambeds or dirty drains. A team at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University thinks of them instead as a robust new platform for designer nanomaterials that could help clean polluted rivers, manufacture pharmaceutical products, fabricate new textiles, and more.Biofilms are communities of bacteria ensconced in a matrix of slimy, but extremely tough, extracellular material composed of sugars, proteins, genetic material, and more. Researchers wanted to give them a facelift, and developed a novel protein-engineering system called BIND to do so. With BIND, which stands for biofilm-integrated nanofiber display, the team said biofilms could become living foundries for large-scale production of biomaterials that can be programmed to provide functions not possible with existing materials. They reported the proof-of-concept today in the journal Nature Communications.“Most biofilm-related research today focuses on how to get rid of biofilms, but we demonstrate here that we can engineer these super-tough natural materials to perform specific functions, so we may want them around in specific quantities and for specific applications,” said Wyss Institute Core Faculty member Neel Joshi, the study’s senior author. Joshi is also an associate professor of chemical and biological engineering at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS).Biofilms also can self-assemble and self-heal. “If they get damaged, they grow right back because they are living tissues,” said lead author Peter Nguyen, a postdoctoral fellow at the Wyss Institute and SEAS.During biofilm formation, individual bacteria pump out proteins that self-assemble outside the cell, creating tangled networks of fibers that essentially glue the cells together into communities that keep the bacteria safer than they would be on their own. In this video, the Wyss Institute’s Neel Joshi and Postdoctoral Fellow Peter Nguyen describe how their protein engineering system called BIND (biofilm-integrated nanofiber display) could redefine biofilms as large-scale production platforms for biomaterials with functionality not currently possible. An animation depicts how it works on a molecular level.Interest in biofilm engineering is skyrocketing, and while several other teams have recently developed genetic tools to control biofilm formation, Joshi’s team altered the composition of the extracellular material itself, essentially turning it into a self-replicating production platform to churn out whatever material they wish to produce.“Until recently, there was not enough cooperation between synthetic biologists and biomaterials researchers to exploit the synthetic potential of biofilms this way. We are trying to bridge that gap,” Joshi said.The team genetically fuse a protein with a particular desired function — for example, one known to adhere to steel — onto a small protein called CsgA that is already produced by E. coli bacteria. The appended domain goes along for the ride through the natural process by which CsgA is secreted outside the cell, where it self-assembles into super-tough proteins called amyloid nanofibers. These amyloid proteins retain the functionality of the added protein, ensuring the desired function, in this case that the biofilm adheres to steel.Amyloid proteins traditionally get a bad rap for their role in causing tremendous health challenges such as Alzheimer’s disease, but here their role is fundamental to making BIND robust. The amyloids can spontaneously assemble into fibers that, by weight, are stronger than steel and stiffer than silk.“We are excited about the versatility of the method, too,” Joshi said. The team demonstrated an ability to fuse 12 different proteins to the CsgA protein, with widely varying sequences and lengths. This means that in principle they can use this technology to display virtually any protein sequence — a significant feature because proteins perform an array of impressive functions, from binding to foreign particles, to carrying out chemical reactions, to transmitting signals, providing structural support, and transporting or storing certain molecules.Not only can these functions be programmed into the biofilm one at a time, they can be combined to create multifunctional biofilms as well.The concept of the microbial factory is not a new one, but this is the first time it is being applied to materials, as opposed to soluble molecules such as drugs or fuels. “We are essentially programming the cells to be fabrication plants,” Joshi said. “They don’t just produce a raw material as a building block, they orchestrate the assembly of those blocks into higher-order structures and maintain those structures over time.”“The foundational work Neel and his team are doing with biofilms offers a glimpse into a much more environmentally sustainable future, where gargantuan factories are reduced to the size of a cell that we can program to manufacture new materials that meet our everyday needs — from textiles to energy and environmental clean-up,” said Wyss Institute Founding Director Don Ingber.For now, the team has demonstrated the ability to program E. coli biofilms that stick to certain substrates such as steel, and others that can immobilize an array of proteins or promote the templating of silver for construction of nanowires.This work was primarily funded by the Wyss Institute. The authors also acknowledge support from the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship and the A*STAR National Science Graduate Fellowship.last_img read more

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Strong statement on abortion access

first_imgThe Supreme Court issued a historic decision Monday, weighing in again in the nation’s fractious abortion debate. In a 5-3 ruling, the court overturned a Texas law requiring that abortion clinics maintain hospital-like standards at their facilities as well as admitting privileges at local hospitals. Pro-life activists argued that the rules were aimed at protecting women’s health, but those in the pro-choice camp countered that the law left many abortion clinics with no choice but to shut down and infringed on women’s constitutional rights. The court agreed. “Neither of these provisions offers medical benefits sufficient to justify the burdens upon access that each imposes,” wrote Associate Justice Stephen Breyer in his majority opinion. Harvard Law School’s I. Glenn Cohen, a professor of law and faculty director at the School’s Petrie-Flom Center for Health Law Policy, Biotechnology & Bioethics, spoke with the Gazette about the ruling. Cohen filed an amicus brief in support of the court’s decision.GAZETTE: What exactly did this ruling say?COHEN: It declared unconstitutional a Texas law that targeted abortion providers. These “targeted regulation of abortion provider,” or TRAP, statutes are popular across the country. This one had two main provisions. First, the admitting privileges requirement provides that physicians performing or inducing an abortion must have active admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles of the abortion facility. And second, the surgical-center requirement requires abortion facilities to meet the minimum standards for ambulatory surgical centers under Texas law.GAZETTE: Can you set the historic precedence for this vote? How does it compare to Roe v. Wade and, more recently, Planned Parenthood v. Casey?COHEN: This is the strongest blow to the abortion restriction agenda since Planned Parenthood v. Casey, in 1992, in which the Court upheld the right to have an abortion, but also applied a new legal standard — the “undue burden” standard — to restrictions on abortion access. After a series of losses over the last few years on partial birth abortion and other cases for the pro-choice camp, this was an important win. As I noted on my blog, it will make it easier to challenge these kinds of restrictions because of three elements of the way the court interpreted its prior ruling in Casey.First, the Court signaled that much less deference is due to legislatures than has been true in prior cases. Second, the ruling clarifies what constitutes an “undue burden” — the standard established in Casey — instructing lower courts to balance the burdens a law imposes on abortion access against the benefits the restrictions supposedly confer. Finally, it clarifies the “large fraction” language from Casey, rejecting the lower court’s more restrictive view as to how many women in Texas had to be negatively affected to make the law unconstitutional.GAZETTE: Similar versions of this law exist in numerous other states. How will this decision affect those states going forward?COHEN: While the specifics matter (much of this case was about how good the evidence was that these laws would have the effect of shutting down abortion clinics and to what extent), such that one cannot make a prediction as to any state without knowing the specifics, this much is clear: Those opposed to such laws will have a much easier time challenging them after this opinion than before it.GAZETTE: You wrote on your blog that the language in this decision was much different from that of the gay marriage cases, and that all of the opinions, with the exception of Justice [Ruth Bader] Ginsburg’s, are in the “technocratic mode of writing.” Is that significant?COHEN: I don’t know that I can do it better than in my blog’s words so here is a recap of that post:All the opinions, except perhaps Justice Ginsburg’s very short concurrence, are decidedly in the “technocratic” mode of writing as opposed to what we might call the Kulturkampf (i.e., a deep conflict between cultures, civilizations, or value systems) mode that characterized much of Justice [Antonin] Scalia’s dissents on these kinds of issues. These opinions are written for lawyers, not the public. I would have to do a proper count to be sure, but it seems to me that something like two-thirds to three-quarters of the total pages of these sets of opinions are devoted to issues that only lawyers will be able to engage in.‘This feels so different than the other social policy decisions the court has weighed in on in the past and even this term.’The emotional dial of these opinions is turned largely to the sleepy end. While Justice [Clarence] Thomas, in particular, frequently writes in his opinion that the court is inventing special rules for abortion cases, the typical reader would not feel the passionate disagreement about abortion come out at all in these opinions. Instead, they seem much more to be the kinds of things you would find in civil procedure and federal courts textbooks — a high level of lawyerly back and forth. This feels so different than the other social policy decisions the court has weighed in on in the past and even this term.What explains the turn to the technocratic abortion opinions? Authorship may have something to do with it. Justice Breyer writes more commonly in this style than the other left-leaning justices. Also, Justice Scalia’s absence is felt, for one could have imagined the kind of no-holds-barred and pungent dissent he might have written. Ultimately, though, I suspect that this has much to do with the court trying to manage the political realities of this election cycle and the likelihood of remaining only eight for a time to come. One can sense the court feeling the need to stay above the fray a bit more in these times of so much partisan rancor.GAZETTE: Were you surprised that Justice [Anthony] Kennedy sided with the majority, given his support for the ban on partial-birth abortions in 2007?COHEN: With Kennedy you never know. At oral argument he asked hard questions of both sides. This term, in Fisher, for the first time ever he sided to uphold an affirmative-action program, so it shows he looks at every case anew. I do think his prior partial-birth abortion decision had a very distinct hue to it, with a kind of woman-protective argument that many found problematic, so maybe that reaction influenced him here.GAZETTE: Do you think that it’s significant that even with the court missing a justice, it ruled in a liberal direction? Even though the vote was 5-3, do you think Scalia’s presence on the Court could have made a difference in this decision?COHEN: Well, numerically speaking he would not have swayed the vote. I think the biggest difference would be in the tone of the dissenting opinion. Scalia, who was an excellent writer, also had much more of a poison pen. I also think the themes of Kulturkampf one saw in his gay-rights decisions (especially the gay marriage decision, Obergefell v. Hodges) would have expressed themselves much more if he was writing. Justice [Samuel] Alito’s dissent and even Justice Thomas’ opinion are more low-key and more dry, technical, lawyerly than Scalia would likely have written. For some, that makes these opinions better, but for the average member of the public a blistering Scalia dissent would probably have been better to stir the passions of those who are in favor of these restrictions on abortion.last_img read more

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