Harvard Law School
Prof. Laurence Tribe for uncredited passages
By Associated Press
Thursday, April 14, 2005 -
Harvard University has reproached but declined to punish constitutional scholar
Laurence H. Tribe after concluding he committed ``a serious lapse'' in failing
to properly credit another author's work in a book published two decades ago.
Last fall, the Weekly Standard magazine pointed
out similarities, including one exact 19-word passage, between Tribe's 1985 book
``God Save This Honorable Court'' and a 1974 book ``Justices and Presidents'' by
Henry J. Abraham, now an emeritus professor at the University of Virginia.
Tribe, who is well known in legal circles and
represented Al Gore in the 2000 Florida election dispute, acknowledged the
mistake and apologized publicly and in a letter to Abraham. His book did not
have footnotes but mentioned Abraham's in a bibliographic note.
Harvard appointed three scholars to investigate,
including former president Derek Bok. In a statement released Thursday,
President Lawrence Summers and Law School Dean Elena Kagan said they had
received the investigators' report and concluded the error was ``the product of
inadvertence rather than intentionality'' and ``related more to matters of
phrasing than to fundamental ideas.''
Nonetheless, the statement said the error was ``a
significant lapse in proper academic practice'' and ``a matter of serious
concern in the academic community.''
``We have conveyed these conclusions and concerns
to Professor Tribe, and now consider the matter closed,'' the statement said.
It was not
entirely clear from the university announcement whether Tribe received any
further sanction, and the university declined to comment further. But Tribe's
office issued a statement saying ``there was no sanction or reprimand beyond the
Tribe issued a separate statement
reiterating his apology.
``I am gratified that the university's inquiry
found no basis for accusations of dishonesty or of intellectual theft,'' he
A phone message seeking comment from Abraham was
not immediately returned.
The accusations against Tribe were part of a
string of allegations of sloppy attribution against prominent scholars,
including Tribe's Harvard colleague Charles J. Ogletree, who lifted a
six-paragraph passage almost directly from another work. Ogletree attributed the
mistake to assistants but apologized, and a Harvard investigation found no