Jacob Miller  //  2/21/19  //  Daily Update


Justice Department officials believe that Robert Mueller will potentially finish his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election by next week. President Trump announced that the United States would not re-admit Hoda Muthana, a student who traveled to Syria to try to join the Islamic State, but has apologized and wishes to return to the United States. The Supreme Court on ruled 9-0 that the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution’s ban on excessive fines applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment in Timbs v. Indiana. The Environmental Protection Agency has begun to lay out a new plan to change Obama-era rules and make regulation of mercury and air toxins substantially more difficult. Members of Congress have grown concerned that Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats may soon be removed from his position by President Trump.

  

TRUMP: INVESTIGATIONS & LITIGATION

Michael Cohen will testify before the House Oversight Committee on February 27, 2019 (Politico, WSJ, WaPo).

Congress should question Michael Cohen even as special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation continues, but Congress should tread very carefully and take proper safeguards when doing so, writes Elise Bean for Just Security.

Justice Department norms of independence, as well as former Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker himself, should be praised for encouraging non-interference with special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, especially in light of comments encouraging intervention from President Trump, writes Jack Goldsmith for Lawfare.

Justice Department officials believe that Robert Mueller will potentially finish his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election by next week (WaPo, LATimes)

 

IMMIGRATION

Protect Democracy announced it filed a lawsuit on behalf of the County of El Paso, Texas and the Border Network for Human Rights against President Trump’s use of emergency powers with a legal team that includes former Acting Attorney General Stuart Gerson and Professor Laurence Tribe.

American Civil Liberties Union Director Anthony Romero announced that the organization will bring suit against President Trump claiming illegal use of emergency powers to build some of a border wall (USA Today).

The legal challenges to President Trump’s attempted use of emergency power to build some of a border wall may lead to Courts stopping the action on Constitutional or “merely” legal grounds, and although either rationale would halt the action, each may have different political implications, writes Michael C. Dorf for Dorf on Law.

President Trump announced that the United States would not re-admit Hoda Muthana, a student who traveled to Syria to try to join the Islamic State, but has apologized and wishes to return to the United States (NYT).

Hoda Muthana has a right to return to the United States if she is in fact a United States citizen, argues Steve Vladeck for Just Security.

 

CIVIL RIGHTS 

The Supreme Court on ruled 9-0 that the Eighth Amendment to the Constitution’s ban on excessive fines applied to the states through the Fourteenth Amendment in Timbs v. Indiana (NYT, WaPo, LATimes, WSJ).

  • Read the opinion here

The Supreme Court’s decision in Timbs left open the question of what “excessive” means in the civil forfeiture context, which will be critical to the case’s ultimate impact, writes Ilya Somin for The Volokh Conspiracy.

 

DEMOCRACY

Senate Republicans are preparing to use the “nuclear option” to reduce debate times on executive branch and judicial nominees substantially (NYT).

 

JUSTICE & SAFETY

President Trump’s attempts to negotiate new trade deals with China have largely been unproductive in addressing key structural issues, in spite of the Trump administration’s rhetoric, write Rachel Brown and Preston Lim for Lawfare.

 

CONFLICTS OF INTEREST

Current Environmental Protection Agency assistant administrator Bill Wehrum’s former lobbying firm received millions of dollars from coal companies to lobby against the Obama Administration’s air regulations (Politico).

 

REGULATION

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said publicly that the FCC’s annual broadband assessment shows access has improved throughout the United States due to policies implemented during his time with the Trump administration (Ars Technica).

The Environmental Protection Agency has begun to lay out a new plan to change Obama-era rules and make regulation of mercury and air toxins substantially more difficult, argues Michael Lemov for The Hill.

The Trump administration’s talks with California lawmakers over fuel-economy standards have broken down and failed to produce important compromises (LATimes).

 

RULE OF LAW 

Members of Congress have grown concerned that Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats may soon be removed from his position by President Trump (WaPo).

 


Daily Update | May 20, 2019

5/20/19  //  Daily Update

The federal government’s ban on spending federal funds on abortions means that Medicaid recipients cannot access abortion, creating a burden on women of color and women living in poverty. A new rule proposed by the Trump administration would prohibit families from obtaining subsidized housing if any family member is undocumented. The Fourth Circuit found that the Trump administration’s decision to rescind DACA was arbitrary and capricious – and therefore unlawful – because it was not adequately explained and the administration did not address the impact of this decision on DACA-recipients’ reliance interests. The White House has released a new tool to solicit information from people who believe that their social media posts have been censored by politically biased social media companies.

Karen Kadish

Columbia Law School

Daily Update | May 16, 2019

5/16/19  //  Daily Update

The Trump Administration’s forthcoming immigration plan will focused on increasing the educational and skills requirements for people who are allowed to migrate to the United States and would scale back family-based immigration. Loose regulation of government websites allows executive agencies to weaken policies the executive branch opposes, such as the Affordable Care Act, which has been censored at least 26 times on HHS websites. The Trump Administration will not sign an international pledge to combat extremist content online, potentially because of First Amendment concerns. A new report from Paul C. Light outlines the ways that the House has investigated presidents since World War II, and gives an analysis of how Congress can conduct a meaningful probe into Presidential actions.

Karen Kadish

Columbia Law School

Daily Update | May 15, 2019

5/15/19  //  Daily Update

The Alabama Senate approved a measure that would outlaw abortion at all stages of pregnancy except in cases where the mother’s life is at serious risk; it awaits signature by Governor Kay Ivey. A new law will impose financial burdens on individuals convicted of felonies that make it harder for them to vote in Florida, despite the passing of Florida’s ballot initiative to restore voting rights to felons. Action from the FCC has continued to increase tensions between the United States and China following a unanimous vote to block China Mobile, and threatening public statements from President Trump. Donald Trump Jr. has agreed that he will appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee behind closed doors, following a fight between Republican lawmakers. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis claimed he was not allowed to say which two Florida counties were hacked by Russians in the 2016 election.

Jacob Miller

Harvard Law School