Derek Reinbold  //  4/16/18  //  Daily Update


A federal judge left in place an injunction over President Trump’s transgender troop ban, ruling that transgender people are a protected class. On Friday evening, the United States and European allies launched airstrikes in Syria targeting chemical weapons sites. There is a two-front legal war raging over the right of undocumented teenaged girls to receive abortions—the Supreme Court took up the issue at conference on Friday. Gina Haspel’s nomination to be the next CIA director is facing opposition from senators questioning her role in destroying videotapes of brutal interrogations conducted by the agency. Following an FBI raid on his home, hotel room, and office, President Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, filed for a temporary restraining order in the S.D.N.Y. President Trump issued a pardon to Scooter Libby, former Chief of Staff to Vice President Cheney.

 

IMMIGRATION

There is a two-front legal war raging over the right of undocumented teenaged girls to receive abortions—the Supreme Court took up the issue at conference on Friday (National Constitution Center).

The Justice Department is temporarily halting a program that offered free legal advice to detained immigrants (NPR).

 

CIVIL RIGHTS 

A federal judge left in place an injunction over President Trump’s transgender troop ban, ruling that transgender people are a protected class (HuffPost).

  • The ruling is a constitutional milestone—the first time a federal judge has ruled that transgender people are entitled to strict scrutiny against discrimination, writes Lyle Denniston at his blog.
  • The case is proceeding to trial (HRC).

 

DEMOCRACY

We should give a lower voting age a try, writes the Washington Post Editorial Board.

Mark Zuckerberg’s congressional testimony shed some light on Facebook’s current thinking about how it will combat hate speech on its platform, writes Evelyn Douek at Lawfare

Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel, a Republican, suggested that President Trump only won Wisconsin because of the state’s voter ID law (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).

 

JUSTICE & SAFETY

On Friday evening, the United States and European allies launched airstrikes in Syria targeting chemical weapons sites (NYT).

  • Here is a transcript of the President’s remarks announcing the airstrikes.
  • The Pentagon revealed more details about the strikes (WaPo).
  • The U.S. and allies warned Syria of more attacks if chemical weapons are used again (WaPo). 
  • There is no apparent domestic or international legal authority for the strikes, write Jack Goldsmith and Oona Hathaway at Lawfare.
  • The Trump administration should do more to explain the legal basis for the airstrikes, writes John Bellinger at Lawfare

Gina Haspel’s nomination to be the next CIA director is facing opposition from senators questioning her role in destroying videotapes of brutal interrogations conducted by the agency (WaPo).

President Trump apparently cut a deal with Colorado Senator Cory Gardner that could lead to the end of federal marijuana prohibition throughout much of the country, writes Ilya Somin for The Volokh Conspiracy.

 

REGULATION 

In the short run, courts can stop Scott Pruitt’s “gerrymandered reimaging of ‘science.’” But avoiding lasting damage requires removing Pruitt from his seat of power, writes Eli Savit at Take Care.

The U.S. is considering re-entering into the Trans-Pacific Partnership, but re-entry will come with a price (WSJ).

 The D.C. Circuit heard argument in the appeal brought by Leandra English, who is requesting an injunction to install her as CFPB Acting Director (Consumer Finance Monitor).

The Senate Banking Committee questioned Acting CFPB Director Mick Mulvaney over his leadership of the agency (Consumer Finance Monitor).

Energy Secretary Rick Perry expressed willingness to issue an emergency order to help coal and nuclear plants (Arstechnica).

 

RULE OF LAW

Following an FBI raid on his home, hotel room, and office, President Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, filed for a temporary restraining order in the S.D.N.Y. (Lawfare).

  • A criminal investigation into Cohen’s business dealings began months ago (WaPo).
  • The fact that an attorney purports to act on her client’s behalf is no bar to prosecution—Harry Larson and Sabrina McCubbin run through recent examples at Lawfare

President Trump feuded with Former FBI Director James Comey over Twitter this weekend (NYTimes).

  • President Trump called Comey “Slippery” and a “Liar” (NYTimes).

President Trump can fire Robert Mueller—he shouldn’t, write John Yoo and Saikrishna Prakash in the New York Times.

The Justice Department’s Inspector General has released its report on Andrew McCabe. It is scathing, but probably would not have been written had the FBI and Justice Department not become the focus of historic partisan ire, writes Stewart Baker at Lawfare.

  • Sabrina McCubbin summarized the report and the response by McCabe’s lawyer here.

President Trump issued a pardon to Scooter Libby, former Chief of Staff to Vice President Cheney (White House).

  • By this action, President Trump may be looking to cloak in principle his exercise of the power of his office to protect himself, writes Bob Bauer at Lawfare.

Congress is considering a new Authorization for Use of Military Force—it would give President Trump a blank check for worldwide war, writes Christopher Anders at the ACLU.

  

CHECKS & BALANCES

The Supreme Court will provide same-day audio recordings and transcripts from the travel ban case, set for argument on April 25 (Supreme Court).

 

RUSSIAN INTERFERENCE

In the 24 hours following the U.S. strike in Syria, Russian trolling efforts online spiked 2,000% (The Hill).

  • “There's no one better, in the world, about lying about [the] U.S. role in the world than Russia,” said the State Department’s top spokesperson (The Hill).

 


Daily Update | April 24, 2018

4/24/18  //  Daily Update

As the Supreme Court prepares to hear oral argument in litigation challenging the Trump Administration’s “Muslim ban,” the Department of Homeland Security is moving ahead with plans to establish a National Vetting Center that is supposed to establish tighter restrictions on screening foreigners. The Department of Education has shut down dozens of investigations into complaints of racial discrimination in school discipline. Thousands of Puerto Rican families displaced by Hurricane Maria have had to repeatedly face deadlines that would cut off federal assistance in providing temporary housing. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee signaled its approval of Mike Pompeo’s nomination as Secretary of State, following a late intervention by President Trump.

Zachary Piaker

Columbia Law School

Daily Update | April 23, 2018

4/23/18  //  Daily Update

The Democratic National Committee sued the Russian government, Russian government entities, the Trump campaign, Wikileaks, and Trump campaign officials alleging a conspiracy to hack DNC servers and release information during the 2016 election. Attorney General Jeff Sessions told White House Counsel Don McGahn that he would consider resigning if President Trump fired Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.The Trump administration will pivot its teen pregnancy prevention funding efforts toward abstinence-based programs and away from comprehensive sexual education. The CIA’s campaign for controversial deputy director Gina Haspel to be confirmed as its director is atypically public and political. The future of the Iran nuclear deal will be central to meetings between French President Emmanuel Macron and President Trump next week.

Daily Update | April 20, 2018

4/20/18  //  Daily Update

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that he intends to restore voting rights to felons on parole, a move that could open the ballot box to more than 35,000 people. The White House cybersecurity team is undergoing a major shuffle that former officials say could jeopardize the administration’s efforts to develop policy and punish hackers. Congressional Republicans want to impose "net neutrality" rules that allow Internet service providers to charge online services and websites for priority access to consumers, analogizing paid priority to TSA Precheck. Just four months after giving $1.5 trillion in tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans, House Republicans recently unveiled a farm bill that would dismantle the nation’s main source of nutrition assistance for struggling workers and families. Congress will hold hearings to debate America’s role in the Yemeni civil conflict, which has led to one of the world's most dire humanitarian crises.

Jeffrey Stein

Columbia Law School