Eve Levin, Helen Klein Murillo  //  4/21/17  //  Daily Update

Take Care has launched a new podcast: "Versus Trump." Amicus briefs are flooding into cases challenging the revised travel ban. The March for Science is this Saturday. The Trump Administration has continued to bend and break ethics rules. The Treasury Secretary has said tax reform plans will be released "very soon." President Trump appears to have returned his focus to passing a healthcare law. Trump's environmental policies have been besieged in court. Questions about Russian hacking and influence persist.



Take Care is pleased to announce the launch of its new podcast, Versus Trump.  Each episode of the new podcast will discuss the ways that the Trump Administration is breaking the law and what people are doing about it. Versus Trump will feature in-depth discussion and explanation of one or two topics and interviews with people who have unique perspectives on the fight against the Trump Administration. You can listen to the first episode here, and subscribe here with any podcast player or here in iTunes.



President Trump’s travel ban violates the Establishment Clause principle that government is forbidden from acting with animus toward a religious group, argues Joshua Matz for Take Care.

  • Joshua’s post breaks down an amicus brief he filed in the Fourth and Ninth Circuit travel ban cases on behalf of leading constitutional law scholars.
  • A new Quinnipiac poll shows a sharp uptick in public support for allowing Syrian refugees (Politico).

The Trump Administration is attempting to spread disinformation in service of its anti-immigration agenda, argue Leah Litman and Helen Murillo for Take Care.

Texas state legislators are cracking down on immigration in bills threatening state funding for localities that fail to cooperate with federal immigration officers, notes Ann Beeson (NYT).

Attorney General Sessions’ argument that sanctuary cities violate federal law is disingenuous and his motives purely political, argues Christopher Lasch (Jurist).

Sergio Alonso Lopez died last week in Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody, the sixth person this year (Rewire).

A new report on U.S. immigration details demographics, public opinion, and federal, state, and local enforcement (Center for American Progress).



President Trump and Secretary Tillerson should not remain silent on Chenchen human rights abuses against gay men, argues the Human Rights Campaign.

The upcoming March for Science is an opportunity to stand up for the protection of evidence-based research, critical to the protection of reproductive rights, argues Lynn Paltrow (Rewire).

  • Also on Rewire, Sharona Coutts highlights the Trump Administration’s positions at odds with scientists more generally.



Presidential candidates’ free speech rights should be protected and the claims of incitement probably don’t pass constitutional muster, argues Lee Rowland (ACLU).

When it looked as though Trump may lose the election, a Russian think tank suggested highlighting voter fraud in order to undermine confidence is the U.S. electoral system (Election Law Blog).

  • Meanwhile, the Nevada Secretary of State believes 21 noncitizens could have voted illegally in the 2016 presidential election (Election Law Blog, HuffPo).

Kris Kobach seeks a stay from a judicial order to hand over documents from his meeting with President-elect Trump to an organization that argues his lobbying Trump to change federal law would amount to an admission that he cannot currently enforce the Kansas voter ID law (Election Law Blog).

Individuals and groups with special interests donated vast sums to President Trump’s inauguration, documents the New York Times.



Although the Trump Administration’s criminal justice moves to date has been largely symbolic, they evidence a clear turn back to the tough-on-crime policies of the 1990s, argues a new report detailing criminal justice in President Trump’s first 100 days (Brennan Center for Justice).

  • The new Take Care–affiliated podcast, Versus Trump, explains and discusses Department of Justice consent decrees with local police departments (Take Care).

Despite promising a plan within 90 days, President Trump’s cybersecurity plan is nowhere in sight (Politico).

The Department of Justice has prepared criminal charges to seek the arrest of Wikileaks’ Julian Assange (CNN).

Given President Trump’s signals that he has given the military greater latitude, military leaders should consider the pragmatic reasons for strict rules of engagement, argues Benjamin Haas (Just Security).

  • Meanwhile, Ali Latifi documents the aftermath of the U.S. strike in Afghanistan (NYT).

Unilateral humanitarian intervention like that in Syria is illegal and potentially criminal, argues Kevin Jon Heller (Opinio Juris).

  • Heller’s post responds to a defense of humanitarian intervention by Jennifer Trahan (Opinio Juris).
  • On Lawfare, Elizabeth McElvein analyzes the polling data on public support for U.S. missile strike in Syria.

The ongoing North Korean threat requires pressure on China and military restraint from President Trump, argues Nicholas Kristof (NYT).

  • Gail Collins examines President Trump’s provocative, and ultimately false, claims that U.S. warships were being sent to the region in response to North Korean provocations (NYT).
  • The Wall Street Journal argues that “it’s dangerous for Presidents to sell a military mirage.”

The Trump Administration must navigate multiple land mines on the horizon in the United States’ relationship with Iran to avoid crisis, explains Trita Parsi (NYT).

  • Iran’s foreign minister responded with charges of U.S. hypocrisy after Secretary Tillerson publicly criticized the country while the administration nevertheless certified Iranian compliance with the nuclear deal (Politico).



The case for standing in the CREW Emoluments suit against President Trump is much stronger now, but not without issues, writes Matthew Stephenson (Global Anticorruption Blog).

To preserve integrity and fairness, White House has been urged to issue a robust policy imposing restrictions on White House staff contacts with other agencies regarding matters involving specific parties (United to Protect Democracy).

Analysis continues of contribution disclosures to President Trump’s inaugural committee.

  • Nicholas Fandos and Rachel Shorey give the “Who’s Who of Inaugural Donors” (NYT).
  • Energy companies and their executives donated at least $7 million to the committee (The Hill).

The President’s greatest flaw, E.J. Dionne Jr. writes, “Is his autocratic assumption that he is above the expectations that apply to us normal humans” (WaPo).

Attorney general Jeff Sessions and HHS Secretary Tom Price may have to either resign or defend a law they previously called unconstitutional, observes Michael Cannon at Cato.

Republican Congressmen, including HHS Secretary Price, have been “flouting” a “cardinal” fundraising ethics rule, charge Lee Fang and Nick Sturgey at The Intercept.

Ivanka Trump will donate $100,000 of a forthcoming book advance to charity and forgo a planned book tour, assuaging ethics concerns (NYT; Politico).

The administration’s decision on Exxon’s requested waiver from Russian sanctions should be a “no-brainer,” says Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY): “an unequivocal no” (The Hill).



An environmental group filed suit challenging the constitutionality of the Congressional Review Act, which Congress used to repeal a Department of Interior rule protecting Alaskan wildlife (The Hill).

  • The complaint is here.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin teased the release of comprehensive individual and corporate tax reforms “very soon” (WSJ).

  • “Why are Republicans making tax reform so hard?” wonder Steve Forbes, Larry Kudlow, Arthur Laffer and Stephen Moore (NYT).
  • Even people who think (incorrectly) that only the supply side of the economy matters should not support the Republicans’ tax cuts,” Neil H. Buchanan responds at Justia.
  • The President is inching closer to a “protectionist blunder” on steel tariffs, warns the Wall Street Journal.
  • Slashing the capital gains tax down to its pre-Obama levels would increase federal revenue, argue Mark Bloomfield and Oscar S. Pollock (WSJ).

Rumors of a Republican healthcare compromise driven by White House pressure are swirling after a summary of proposed amendments surfaced (Politico; NYT; WaPo; HealthAffairsBlog).

  • The document is here.
  • Congressional republicans will have to juggle the issue at the same time they are trying to avoid a government shutdown (WSJ).
  • The proposal would be a return to the bad old days, Margaret Sanger-Katz opines at the New York Times.
  • Eugene Robinson agrees, describing the proposal as “comically bad” (WaPo).
  • President Trump’s threats to kill low-income insurance subsidies to bring Democrats to the negotiating table is cruel and short-sighted, says the New York Times Editorial Board.

President Trump has a powerful tool to lower pharmaceutical prices already at his disposal, says Prof. Tim Wu: imported drugs. (NYT).

Analysis continues of proposed and anticipated changes in coal policy.

  • Energy Secretary Rick Perry suggested coming changes in the administration’s policy, speaking before an advisory group this week (ClimateWire).
  • The Trump Administration’s threatened repeal of the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards may not help struggling coal plants, notes Benjamin Storrow (ClimateWire).

Chemical companies are asking the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to set aside an Obama-era study on the deleterious effects of some pesticides on animal health (The Hill).

The EPA doesn’t have the legal authority to delay implementation of its methane emissions regs for the oil and gas industry, environmental groups are arguing (ClimateWire).

Commentary continues on the Trump Administration’s relationship with science, in advance of this weekend’s March for Science.

  • Sharona Coutts slams HHS Secretary Price for his affiliation with an “extreme libertarian doctors group that espouses [debunked] lies about abortion safety” (Rewire).

The federal hiring freeze is costly, disruptive, and does not make government smaller, argues Rep. Anthony Brown (D-MD) at The Hill.

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos is right that the public schooling system is a dead end for innovation, writes Neal McCluskey at Cato.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to eliminate business broadband price caps, potentially increasing prices for small businesses in rural areas (Ars Technica).

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai met with tech companies this week to solicit feedback on pulling back net neutrality (NYT).

The new Financial Choice Act is more like a Bank Protection Act, Jeff Sovern charges at the Consumer Law & Policy Blog.



The National Security Agency (NSA) and U.S. Cyber Command should be split, according to Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), top Democrat of the House Intelligence Committee (The Hill).

The government released its annual FISA Court report for calendar year 2016.

  • The report is here.
  • Early commentary comes from Helen Klein Murillo (Lawfare).



States’ requiring political candidates to publically disclose tax returns to get on the ballot violates the Equal Protection Clause, Gerard Magliocca writes at Concurring Opinions.

Fearing a DOJ crackdown on marijuana companies, legalization advocates are pushing Congress to pass legislation protecting companies that follow state law (The Hill).



A Putin-linked Russian government think tank developed a plan to hand the 2016 presidential election to Donald Trump and undermine confidence in American democracy (Reuters).

  • The President should declassify the documents revealing the plans, Jon Schwarz argues at The Intercept.

President Trump is poised to miss a self-imposed deadline Thursday to release a report on Russian hacking (The Hill).

Did Russian interference in the 2016 election violate international law? What about the planting of fake news? Two Penn Law panels featuring NSA Director General Michael Hayden discussed these questions and more (video and coverage from Lawfare). 


And that's our update today!  Thanks for reading.  We cover a lot of ground, so our updates are inevitably a partial selection of relevant legal commentary.  

If you have any feedback, please let us know here

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

Daily Update | April 19, 2018

4/19/18  //  Daily Update

The Trump administration is attempting to transfer an unlawfully detained American citizen from Iraq to Saudi Arabia. Anticipating that President Trump may pardon close associates, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman asked the New York legislature to give his office increased power to pursue state charges against individuals given federal pardons. The American Constitution Society, a liberal legal group, sent an open letter to the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group with strong ties to the Trump administration, to stand together against efforts to interfere with investigations into the administration. Karen McDougal, a former model, settled a lawsuit with the parent company of the National Enquirer over a nondisclosure agreement that prevented her from discussing an alleged affair with President Trump.

Jacob Miller

Harvard Law School

Daily Update | April 18, 2018

4/18/18  //  Daily Update

The Supreme Court struck down a law allowing deportation of some immigrants who commit serious crimes as unconstitutional due to vagueness by a vote of 5-4, with Justice Gorsuch joining Justices Kagan, Ginsburg, Sotomayor, and Breyer in the majority. James Comey’s public criticism of President Trump during his book tour may hurt his image as fully apolitical. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced that the Senate would not take up a bill to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller against termination by President Trump. In a move backed by Congressional Democrats, the Department of the Interior decided not to reduce royalty rates on offshore drilling, overriding the recommendations of an advisory panel. The 9th Circuit will appoint a special prosecutor to defend the criminal contempt conviction of Joe Arpaio after he was pardoned by President Trump.

Jacob Miller

Harvard Law School