News Release

Supreme Court: Kagan Accused of Plagiarism Scandal Whitewash


Solicitor General Elena Kagan is widely reported to be the leading contender for the Supreme Court position being vacated by John Paul Stevens.

While Kagan was dean of Harvard Law School, several law faculty plagiarism scandals surfaced. Lawrence R. Velvel, dean of the Massachusetts School of Law, wrote about much of this and called for Kagan’s departure at the time.

Velvel accused Kagan and Lawrence Summers (who as president of Harvard appointed Kagan) of a “whitewash that avoids punishing a celebrity star professor” for their handling of the revelations that a book by University Professor Laurence Tribe had passages identical to those in a book by University of Virginia Professor Henry J. Abraham.

Wrote Velvel: “Harvard University is now probably the only school in the country with a University Professor who is an admitted plagiarist.” This followed a similar scandal involving Professor Charles Ogletree; Velvel noted at the time: “Ogletree admitted that in a recent book he plagiarized over 800 words from another book.”

Both Tribe and Ogletree taught Obama at Harvard; Tribe is now senior counselor for access to justice at the Department of Justice. Summers — who is now director of the National Economic Council — resigned as president of Harvard University in early 2006 following a no-confidence vote by Harvard faculty.

See Velvel’s piece from 2005: “Re: Larry Tribe, Larry Summers and Elena Kagan: Because of the Larry Tribe Affair, It Is Time for Larry Summers to Go.”

Velvel is reachable at velvel [at]

Also see “Prof Admits to Misusing Source: Tribe’s apology marks third instance of HLS citation woes in past year” in the Harvard Crimson.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167