Harvard University declines to discipline professor who plagiarized

Sunday, April 17, 2005

Harvard University president Lawrence Summers announced that the university would take no formal disciplinary action against Harvard Law School professor Laurence H. Tribe for his admitted "failure to attribute" material used from another scholar's book, The Harvard Crimson reported on April 15.

The accusation of wrongdoing first appeared in an article in The Weekly Standard in 2002. The Standard identified several passages in Tribe's 1985 book, God Save This Honorable Court, that they claimed resembled passages in Justices and Presidents, a book written by Henry Abraham of the University of Virginia. Additionally, the Standard alleged that the sentence, "Taft publicly pronounced Pitney to be a 'weak member' of the Court to whom he could 'not assign cases,'" appeared in both books. In September of 2004, Tribe admitted to a "failure to attribute some of the material The Weekly Standard identified," according to The Harvard Crimson.

The Crimson noted that the press release from Elena Kagan, dean of the law school and Mr. Summers, stated that they were, "firmly convinced that the error was the product of inadvertence rather than intentionality," although they did describe Tribe's behavior as, "a significant lapse in proper academic practice."