Laurence Henry Tribe
October 10, 1941
|Spouse(s)||Carolyn Ricarda Kreye (1964-2008; 2 children)|
|Alma mater||Harvard University (AB, JD)|
|Sub-discipline||U.S. Constitutional Law|
|Institutions||Harvard Law School|
|Notable students||Barack Obama|
Laurence Henry Tribe (born October 10, 1941) is an American legal scholar who is the Carl M. Loeb University Professor at the Harvard Law School of Harvard University. Tribe's scholarship focuses on American constitutional law. He also works with the firm Massey & Gail LLP on a variety of matters.
Tribe is a constitutional law scholar and cofounder of American Constitution Society. He is the author of American Constitutional Law (1978), a major treatise in that field, and has argued before the United States Supreme Court 36 times.
Early life and education
Tribe was born in Shanghai, China, the son of Paulina (née Diatlovitsky) and George Israel Tribe. His family was Jewish. His father was from Poland and his mother was born in Harbin, to immigrants from Eastern Europe. He was raised in the French Concession of Shanghai. Tribe attended Abraham Lincoln High School, San Francisco, California. He holds an A.B. in mathematics, summa cum laude from Harvard College (1962), and a J.D., magna cum laude from Harvard Law School (1966), where he was a member of the Harvard Legal Aid Bureau. Tribe was a member of the Harvard team that won the intercollegiate National Debate Tournament in 1961 and coached the team to the same title in 1969.
Tribe served as a law clerk to Mathew Tobriner on the California Supreme Court from 1966–67 and as a law clerk to Potter Stewart of the U.S. Supreme Court from 1967–68. He joined the Harvard Law School faculty as an assistant professor in 1968, receiving tenure in 1972. Among his law students and research assistants while on the faculty at Harvard have been President Barack Obama (a research assistant for two years), Chief Justice John Roberts (as a law student in his classes), US Senator Ted Cruz, Chief Judge and Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, and Associate Justice Elena Kagan (as a research assistant).
In 1978, Tribe published the first version of what has become one of the core texts on its subject, American Constitutional Law. It has since been updated and expanded a number of times.
Tribe represented the restaurant Grendel's Den in the case Larkin v Grendel's Den in which the restaurant challenged a Massachusetts law which allowed religious establishments to prohibit liquor sales in neighboring properties. The case reached the United States Supreme Court in 1982 where the court overturned the law as violating of the separation of church and state. The Lawyer's Guide to Writing Well criticizes the opening of his brief as a "thicket of confusing citations and unnecessary definitions" stating that it would have been "measurably strengthened" if he had used the "more lively imagery" that he had used in a footnote later in the document.
In the 1985 National Gay Task Force v. Board of Education Supreme Court case, Tribe represented the National Gay Task Force who had won an Appeals Court ruling against an Oklahoma law that would have allowed schools to fire teachers who were attracted to people of the same sex or spoke in favor of civil rights for LGBT people. The Supreme Court deadlocked which left the Appeals Court's favorable ruling in place, declaring the law would have violated the First Amendment.
The Supreme Court ruled against Tribe's client in Bowers v. Hardwick in 1986 and held that a Georgia state law criminalizing sodomy, as applied to consensual acts between persons of the same sex, did not violate fundamental liberties under the principle of substantive due process. However, in 2003 the Supreme Court overruled Bowers in Lawrence v. Texas, a case for which Tribe wrote the ACLU's amicus curiae brief supporting Lawrence, who was represented by Lambda Legal.
Tribe testified at length during the Senate confirmation hearings in 1987 about the Robert Bork Supreme Court nomination, arguing that Bork's stand on the limitation of rights in the Constitution would be unique in the history of the Court. His participation in the hearings raised his profile outside of the legal realm and he became a target of right-wing critics. His phone was later found to have been wiretapped, but it was never discovered who had placed the device or why.
Tribe was part of Al Gore's legal team regarding the results of the 2000 United States presidential election. Due to the close nature of the vote count, recounts had been initiated in Florida, and the recounts had been challenged in court. Tribe argued the initial case in Federal Court in Miami in which they successfully argued that the court should not stop the recount of the votes which was taking place and scheduled to take place in certain counties. David Boies argued for the Gore team in a related matter in the Florida State Courts regarding the dates that Secretary of State of Florida Katherine Harris would accept recounts. When the original Federal case, Bush v. Gore, was appealed, Gore and his advisers decided at the last minute to have Boies instead of Tribe argue the case at the Supreme Court. The court determined that recounts of votes should cease and that accordingly George W. Bush had been elected President.
Since the mid-1990s, Tribe has represented a number of corporations advocating for their free speech rights and constitutional personhood. Tribe represented General Electric in its defense against its liability under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act ("Superfund"), in which GE and Tribe unsuccessfully argued that the act unconstitutionally violated General Electric's due process rights.
In 2014, Tribe was retained to represent Peabody Energy in a suit against the Environmental Protection Agency. Tribe argued that EPA's use of the Clean Air Act to implement its Clean Power Plan was unconstitutional. Tribe's legal analysis has been criticized by other legal commentators, including fellow Harvard Law School professors Richard J. Lazarus and Jody Freeman, who described his conclusion as "wholly without merit". His advocacy for corporations like Peabody has been criticized by some legal experts.
Political involvement and controversy
Tribe is one of the co-founders of the liberal American Constitution Society, the law and policy organization formed to counter the conservative Federalist Society, and is one of a number of scholars at Harvard Law School who have expressed their support for animal rights.
Tribe served as a judicial adviser to the Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign. In February 2010, he was named "Senior Counselor for Access to Justice" in the Department of Justice. He resigned eight months later, citing health reasons.
In December 2016, Tribe and notable lawyers Lawrence Lessig and Andrew Dhuey established The Electors Trust under the aegis of EqualCitizens.US to provide pro bono legal counsel as well as a secure communications platform for those of the 538 members of the United States Electoral College who were considering a vote of conscience against Donald Trump in the presidential election.
After the dismissal of James Comey in May 2017, Tribe wrote: "The time has come for Congress to launch an impeachment investigation of President Trump for obstruction of justice." Tribe argued that Trump's conduct rose to the level of "high crimes and misdemeanors" that are impeachable offenses under the Constitution. He added: "It will require serious commitment to constitutional principle, and courageous willingness to put devotion to the national interest above self-interest and party loyalty, for a Congress of the president's own party to initiate an impeachment inquiry."
In 2004, Tribe acknowledged having improperly borrowed without attribution several phrases and a sentence in his 1985 book, God Save this Honorable Court, from a 1974 book by Henry Abraham. After an investigation, Tribe was reprimanded by Harvard for "a significant lapse in proper academic practice," but the investigation concluded that Tribe did not intend to plagiarize.
Tribe has stirred controversy due to his promotion of unreliable claims about President Trump's fitness for office. Dartmouth political scientist Brendan Nyhan harshly criticized Tribe, saying that he "has become an important vector of misinformation and conspiracy theories on Twitter." According to McKay Coppins of The Atlantic, Tribe has been "an especially active booster" of the Palmer Report, "a liberal blog known for peddling conspiracy theories". Tribe removed the posted tweets following the Palmer Report and contests the accuracy of the story of controversy.
The following is a list of cases Tribe has argued in the U.S. Supreme Court, as of the end of 2005:
|Richmond Newspapers v. Virginia||448 U.S. 555||1981|
|Heffron v. International Society for Krishna Consciousness||452 U.S. 640||1981|
|Crawford v. Board of Education||458 U.S. 527||1982|
|Larkin v. Grendel’s Den||459 U.S. 116||1982|
|White v. Massachusetts Council||460 U.S. 204||1983|
|Pacific Gas & Electric v. California||461 U.S. 190||1983|
|Hawaii Housing Auth. v. Midkiff||467 U.S. 229||1984|
|Northeast Bancorp v. Fed. Reserve||472 U.S. 159||1985|
|National Gay Task Force v. Board of Education||470 U.S. 159||1985|
|Fisher v. City of Berkeley||475 U.S. 260||1986|
|Bowers v. Hardwick||478 U.S. 186||1986|
|Pennzoil v. Texaco||481 U.S. 1||1986|
|Schweiker v. Chilicky||487 U.S. 412||1988|
|Granfinanciera v. Nordberg||492 U.S. 33||1989|
|Sable Communications v. FCC||492 U.S. 115||1989|
|Adams Fruit v. Barrett||494 U.S. 638||1990|
|Rust v. Sullivan||500 U.S. 173||1991|
|Cipollone v. Liggett||505 U.S. 504||1992|
|TXO v. Alliance Resources||509 U.S. 443||1993|
|Honda Motor Co. v. Oberg||512 U.S. 415||1994|
|U.S. v. Chesapeake & Potomac Telephone||516 U.S. 415||1996|
|Timmons v. Twin Cities Area New Party||520 U.S. 351||1997|
|Vacco v. Quill||521 U.S. 793||1997|
|Amchem Products v. Windsor||521 U.S. 591||1997|
|Baker v. General Motors||522 U.S. 222||1998|
|AT&T v. Iowa Utilities Board||525 U.S. 366||1999|
|Ortiz v. Fibreboard||527 U.S. 815||1999|
|Bush v. Gore I||531 U.S. 70||2000|
|New York Times Co. v. Tasini||533 U.S. 438||2001|
|U.S. v. United Foods||533 U.S. 405||2001|
|FCC v. NextWave||537 U.S. 293||2002|
|State Farm v. Campbell||538 U.S. 408||2003|
|Nike v. Kasky||539 U.S. 654||2003|
|Johanns v. Livestock Marketing Association||544 U.S. 550||2005|
Tribe has argued 26 cases in the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals:
|Worldwide Church of God v. California||623 F.2d 613[permanent dead link]||9th||1980|
|Grendel's Den v. Goodwin||662 F.2d 102||1st||1981|
|Pacific Legal Foundation v. State Energy Resources||659 F.2d 903[permanent dead link]||9th||1981|
|United States v. Sun Myung Moon||718 F.2d 1210||2nd||1983|
|Romany v. Colegio de Abogados||742 F.2d 32||1st||1984|
|Westmoreland v. CBS||752 F.2d 16||2nd||1984|
|Colombrito v. Kelly||764 F.2d 122||2nd||1985|
|Texaco v. Pennzoil||784 F.2d 1133||2nd||1986|
|U.S. v. Bank of New England||821 F.2d 844||1st||1987|
|U.S. v. Gallo||859 F.2d 1078||2nd||1988|
|U.S. v. GAF Corporation||884 F.2d 670||2nd||1989|
|U.S. v. Western Electric Company||900 F.2d 283||D.C.||1999|
|Fineman v. Armstrong World Industries||980 F.2d 171||D.C.||1992|
|U.S. v. Western Electric Company||993 F.2d 1572||D.C.||1993|
|Lightning Lube v. Witco Corporation||4 F.3d 1153||3rd||1993|
|Hopkins v. Dow Corning Corporation||33 F.3d 1116||9th||1994|
|Chesapeake and Potomac Telephone v. U.S.||42 F.3d 181||4th||1994|
|Georgine v. Amchem Products, Inc.||83 F.3d 610||3rd||1996|
|BellSouth Corp. v. F.C.C.||144 F.3d 58||D.C.||1998|
|SBC Communications v. F.C.C.||154 F.3d 226||5th||1998|
|City of Dallas v. F.C.C.||F.3d 341||5th||1999|
|U.S. West v. Tristani||"182 F.3d 1202" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on September 20, 2008. (90.5 KB)||10th||1999|
|U.S. West v. F.C.C.||"182 F.3d 1224" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on September 20, 2008. (220 KB)||10th||1999|
|Southwest Voter Registration v. Shelley||"344 F.3d 914" (PDF). (23.0 KB)||9th||2003|
|Pacific Gas and Elec. v. California||"350 F.3d 932" (PDF). (144 KB)||9th||2003|
|General Electric v. E.P.A.||"360 F.3d 188" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on November 27, 2007. (49.8 KB)||D.C.||2004|
- To End a Presidency: The Power of Impeachment (2018; co-author with Joshua Matz)
- Uncertain Justice: The Roberts Court and the Constitution (2014; co-author with Joshua Matz)
- The Invisible Constitution (2008)
- American Constitutional Law (treatise; 1978, 1979, 1988, and 2000)
- On Reading the Constitution (1991; co-author with Michael Dorf)
- Abortion: The Clash of Absolutes (1990)
- Constitutional Choices (1985)
- God Save This Honorable Court: How the Choice of Supreme Court Justices Shapes Our History (1985)
- The Supreme Court: Trends and Developments (1979, 1980, 1982, 1983)
- When Values Conflict: Essays on Environmental Analysis, Discourse, and Decision (editor; 1976)
- The American Presidency: Its Constitutional Structure (1974)
- Channeling Technology Through Law (1973)
- Environmental Protection (1971; co-author with Louis Jaffe)
- Technology: Processes of Assessment and Choice (1969)
- Schoenberg, Shira (November 14, 2007). "Law expert: Obama will preserve Constitution". Concord Monitor. Archived from the original on July 22, 2012.
- Bronner, Ethan (June 28, 2012). "A Re-Examination of Roberts's Legacy?". The New York Times.
- Davenport, Coral (April 6, 2015). "Laurence Tribe Fights Climate Case Against Star Pupil From Harvard, President Obama". The New York Times.
- "Laurence H. Tribe". Massey & Gail LLP. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
- Kenneth Jost (May 1990). "Roe Revisited (ABA Review)". ABA Journal. American Bar Association. pp. 110–. Retrieved October 2, 2015.
- Gregory, Vanessa (December 6, 2010) Indefensible, The American Prospect
- Johnson, Carrie (February 26, 2010). "Prominent Harvard law professor joins Justice Department". The Washington Post. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
Tribe has served as lead counsel in 35 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court, testified before Congress dozens of times and wrote a major treatise on constitutional law.
- Sullivan, Kathleen M (2007). Legal scholarship symposium: the scholarship of Laurence Tribe. University of Tulsa College Of Law. Retrieved April 10, 2015.
- "Laurence Tribe on Background". Big Think.
- Bhayani, Paras D. (October 18, 2006). "A Humble Start on the Path to Stardom". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
- Carlton Sherwood, Inquisition: The Persecution and Prosecution of the Reverend Sun Myung Moon, Regnery Publishing, 1991, 0-89526-532-X, pages 384-386
- Benjamin Nugent. "American Nerd: The Story of My People". Google Books. p. 104. Retrieved October 2, 2015.
- on YouTube
- Levy, Richard E. (2006). The Power to Legislate. Greenwood Publishing Group. p. 192. ISBN 9780313086328.
- Epps, Garrett (March 15, 2001). To An Unknown God: Religious Freedom On Trial. St. Martin's Press. pp. 79–. ISBN 9780312262396. Retrieved October 2, 2015.
- Goldstein, Tom; Lieberman, Jethro K. (December 14, 2002). The Lawyer's Guide to Writing Well: Second Edition. University of California Press. pp. 81–. ISBN 9780520929074. Retrieved October 2, 2015.
- Blount, Jackie M. (2005). Fit to Teach: Same-Sex Desire, Gender, and School Work in the Twentieth Century. SUNY Press. pp. 160–. ISBN 9780791462676. Retrieved October 2, 2015.
- Bronner, Ethan (2007). Battle for Justice: How the Bork Nomination Shook America. Union Square Press. pp. 266–. ISBN 9781402752278. Retrieved October 2, 2015.
- "Cipollone v. Liggett Group, Inc". Oyez. Retrieved June 12, 2019.
- Toobin, Jeffrey (October 1, 2002). Too Close to Call: The Thirty-Six-Day Battle to Decide the 2000 Election. Random House. pp. 100–. ISBN 9780375761072. Retrieved October 3, 2015.
- Tim Wu (May 6, 2015). "Did Laurence Tribe Sell Out?". The New Yorker. Retrieved October 3, 2015.
- Mayberry, Jodine (February 26, 2009). "GE Loses Last Issue in Lengthy Court Case on Superfund Liability". Findlaw.com. Archived from the original on May 28, 2009. Retrieved April 21, 2015.
- Davenport, Coral (March 19, 2015). "McConnell urges states to help thwart Obama's war on coal". The New York Times.
- Freeman, Jody; Lazarus, Richard J. (March 18, 2015). "Is the President's Climate Plan Unconstitutional?". Harvard Law Today.
- "Larry Tribe and Mitch McConnell's Flagrant Constitutional Error". Politico Magazine. March 25, 2015.
- "'Personhood' Redefined: Animal Rights Strategy Gets at the Essence of Being Human", Association of American Medical Colleges, retrieved April 10, 2011.
- Egelko, Bob (October 20, 2008). "Next president will shape Supreme Court". San Francisco Chronicle.
- "Tribe named Senior Counselor for Access to Justice". Harvard Law School. February 26, 2010. Retrieved February 26, 2010.
- "Laurence Tribe to return to Harvard Law School in January". Harvard Law School. November 18, 2010. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
- Cheney, Kyle. "Lessig, lawyers to offer support to anti-Trump electors".
- Laurence H. Tribe (May 13, 2017). "Trump must be impeached. Here's why". The Washington Post.
- Boot, Max (April 25, 2018). "The political center is fighting back". The Washington Post.
- Bottum, Joseph (October 4, 2004). "The Big Mahatma". The Weekly Standard. Retrieved May 11, 2010.
- Rimer, Sara (November 24, 2004). "When Plagiarism's Shadow Falls on Admired Scholars". The New York Times. Retrieved May 11, 2010.
- Pope, Justin (April 14, 2005). "Archived copy". Associated Press. Archived from the original on April 20, 2005. Retrieved May 11, 2010.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
- "2 Professors Walk Into a Dumpster Fire ..." The Chronicle of Higher Education. June 20, 2017. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
- "Why Is A Top Harvard Law Professor Sharing Anti-Trump Conspiracy Theories?". BuzzFeed. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
- Coppins, McKay. "How the Left Lost Its Mind". The Atlantic. Retrieved December 7, 2017.
- "2002 Dedication - Laurence H. Tribe". New York University School of Law. Retrieved October 1, 2015.
- Blumenkranz, Carla (September 22, 2008). "Radical Speak Performance Artist Mark Tribe Breathes New Life Into Old Politics". New York. New York Magazine Company. 41: 66.
- "Columbia Announces 2013 Honorary Degree Recipients". Columbia University. April 8, 2013. Archived from the original on March 10, 2015.
- Leila Schneps and Coralie Colmez, Math on trial. How numbers get used and abused in the courtroom, Basic Books, Chapter 2 (2013); ISBN 978-0-465-03292-1.