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What Harvard professors who were part of Elizabeth Warren’s hiring say about it

Langdell Hall, the Harvard Law Library.Charles Krupa/Associated Press/File 2005

More than 60 Harvard professors were eligible to vote on whether to offer Elizabeth Warren a tenured position at the law school in 1993. The Globe reached out to all of the living professors who could have been in that room to ask whether her claims to Native American heritage were a factor in their votes.

Here’s a sampling of what they said.

Laurence Tribe : “I would be willing to swear on a hundred bibles, if I believed in the Bible, that the idea that she took advantage of some minority status was ludicrous.”

Martha Minow : “I was there. I was in the meetings. It never came up. . . . There is no news here. I can utterly close the door. There was no conversation of her having any Native American identity. I can say that conclusively.”


Duncan Kennedy

: “The idea of affirmative action for Native Americans didn’t exist in the at the time. I never heard a person mention that.”

Randall Kennedy : “She was not on the radar screen at all in terms of a racial minority hire. . . . It was just not an issue. I can’t remember anybody ever mentioning her in this context.”

William Alford: “I have no recollection at all of any consideration of her being a Native American. It just never, as far as I know, entered the equation. I would have been attentive to that if it had.”

Richard Fallon: “If the appointment had been presented in a way that Elizabeth had minority status, I’m as certain as I can be that it would have stuck out in my mind because it would have astonishing to me to learn that about Elizabeth.”

Martha Field : “I was there and I voted on her. Native American was never brought up. We had no idea. I don’t think it was on any of the paperwork. . . . I never heard about it until it became a national issue.”


David Herwitz : “There was no issue of a claim or what a nice plus it would have been for the law school.”

Bruce Hay: “I was at Liz Warren’s appointments meeting. The subject of her ancestry did not come up in any way, shape, or form.”

Arthur Miller: “I do not recall any reference to her heritage. It may have come up in passing, but I do not recall. I just don’t recall. It was not something I really cared about other than it has always been a problem with American law schools that Native Americans are underrepresented.”

David Wilkins: “Throughout this discussion at no time did I ever hear anyone mention anything about the fact that Professor Warren may have some Native American heritage. I never heard it in discussions. I don’t remember seeing any references to it in the file. I simply did not know about this. This would have been something I would have been interested in.”

Charles Fried : “It had nothing to do with our consideration and deliberation.”

Christopher Edley : “As far as I know, she never mentioned it, and if anyone on the faculty knew about it, they didn’t mention it publicly.”

Joseph Singer : “I never heard anything about Elizabeth Warren’s Indian heritage until after her appointment was voted by the faculty at Harvard Law School, of which I was a member at the time. Since I write scholarly articles about federal Indian law, and did so at that time, I think I would have remembered it if that had come up in any way at the time of her consideration for an appointment.”


Charles Donahue : “I am, however, quite comfortable saying that one thing that was not discussed, mentioned, or, so far as I am aware, known by anyone, was that Elizabeth might be regarded as having minority status. I know that I read the committee report, and I can remember the meeting, and nothing about this was said.”

Lewis Sargentich : “I was enthusiastically in favor of the appointment. There was no mention whatsoever of Elizabeth Warren’s ethnicity. The reason I’m sure of that is that, quite some time later, I heard something about Elizabeth’s ethnicity. I had no knowledge of it before then, by which time Elizabeth had been on the faculty for quite a while.”

Harry S. “Terry” Martin: “I do remember the discussion over Liz Warren’s appointment. I recall no discussion of her ethnic heritage. . . . Only after her appointment at Harvard did I learn she had some Native American blood.”

Morton Horwitz : “I was in the room when Elizabeth Warren was voted a permanent position at Harvard Law School. I am certain there was no mention of any Native American background.”

Henry Steiner : “I knew nothing about any Native American ancestry until newspapers and radio news started recently to discuss the issue.”

Jon Hanson: “I was in similar circles with Elizabeth, shared many students with her, attended talks by Elizabeth, and went to lunch a couple of times with her, and recall no mention from her or anyone else of Native American heritage. I had no knowledge of any such claims.”


Richard Parker : “No. That didn’t come up in that meeting. I remember hearing about it later.”

Howell Jackson: “It wasn’t until years later that I had any idea that there was any possibility that she had Native American heritage.”

Jerry Frug: “I was in the room when Elizabeth was voted an appointment. There was no mention at any time of her heritage in the discussion that day. The discussion was only about her scholarship and teaching. More to the point, I had never heard anything about her Native American heritage until the media began discussing it during her Senate campaign. The topic came as a surprise to me.”

David Shapiro: “I was there for the vote and don’t recall any discussion of her heritage.”

Annie Linskey can be reached at annie.linskey@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @annielinskey.