Helen Klein Murillo, Ian Eppler  //  6/1/17  //  Daily Update

White House sources say that President Trump is planning to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accord. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s proposed budget for the Department of Justice says nothing about prosecuting illegal use of force by police officers. Jared Kushner’s company used a federal loan program intended to subsidize low-income housing to build a luxury residential building. Congress is investigating whether Jeff Sessions, who falsely testified before the Senate that he “did not have communications with the Russians,” may have had an additional private meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak. And Jim Comey, former Director of the FBI, will testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee as early as next week. 


Although courts should be wary of giving legal force to political statements, they should consider giving force to presidential speech where it “supplies evidence of intent or purpose of established legal relevance—for example, when assessing a claim of religious discrimination,” argues Kate Shaw in a New York Times op-ed.

A burden-shifting mechanism such as applying heightened scrutiny to subsequent enactments of the policy is one way to doctrinally define a “cure” where there has been a finding of unconstitutional intent, argues Joseph Blocher on Take Care.

Judge Stephen Reinhardt’s concurring opinion in Magana Ortiz v. Holder, a deportation case, took “extraordinary courage, heart, and insight” and “should be read wide and far,” argues Joshua Matz on Take Care.

New York City Council Members and advocates are urging Mayor Bill de Blasio to halt proposed restrictions on funding for indigent immigrants facing deportation (NYT).


A federal district court has ruled that transgender rights are protected under the Americans With Disabilities Act (Rewire).

  • Meanwhile, the Seventh Circuit became the first federal appeals court to hold that Title IX protects transgender students’ rights to use the bathroom corresponding to their gender identity (Rewire).

As President Trump fails to condemn violence against gay and bisexual men in Chechnya, newly elected French President Emmanuel Macron raised the issue in his first meeting with President Putin (Human Rights Campaign). 

A proposed rule by the Trump administration would undermine the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit (Rewire).

  • The proposed rule “puts employers in charge of women’s health,” comments Aaron Rodriquez (Human Rights Campaign). 

Framing abortion as an economic issue is both ineffective and unhelpful to the other economic justice issues Democrats seek to advance, argue Anat Shenker-Osorio & Sharon Rose Goldtzvik (Rewire).

The Trump era has ushered in a sharp rise in hate-motivated violence in Portland, Oregon, often see as a progressive haven, argue Leah Sottile and Lindsey Bever (WaPo). 


Texas officials in counties with large non-citizen populations have seen no evidence of voter fraud in the 2016 election, despite Trump’s persistent claims to the contrary (Texas Monthly). 


Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s proposed budget for the Justice Department signals his intention to forego civil rights enforcement by omitting any commitment to prosecuting police officers for illegal use of force (Rewire).

  • Andrew Cohen argues that the proposed budget is “unenlightened, regressive, and ultimately self-defeating” and that it will lead to increased crime (Brennan Center for Justice).

Several groups have written to the DOJ Inspector General urging an investigation into possible misconduct by senior DOJ officials related to the firing of former FBI Director James Comey (Brennan Center for Justice).

  • The letter is available here.

The D.C. Circuit recently struck down FAA drone regulations, leaving the future of drone regulation in flux, argue Russell Spivak and Ashley Deeks (Lawfare).

Compare the Trump administration’s use of economic sanctions against foreign countries to those of past administrations using a new data visualization tool available on Lawfare.

To finally settle the jurisdictional bounds of the military commissions, The Supreme Court should grant certiorari in two Guantanamo appeals, argues Steve Vladeck (Just Security).

  • Steve and Bobby Chesney take a deep dive into military commissions on this week’s National Security Law Podcast (Lawfare).

Hassan Rouhani’s election victory in Iran is unlikely to strengthen the leader, but the Trump administration should not be dismissive of the result and should heed Rouhani’s message about the benefits of direct negotiation with the regime, argues Suzanne Maloney (Lawfare).


Documents acquired through a public records request provide an early indication of how the Department of Justice under President Trump will handle conflicts of interest, Zoe Tillman writes on Buzzfeed.

Jared Kushner’s company used a federal loan program intended to subsidize low-income housing to build a luxury residential building, reports Shawn Boburg in The Washington Post.


The Trump administration will likely withdraw the United States from the Paris climate agreement, with a final decision to be made in the coming days (New York Times, Reuters, The Hill).

  • No final decision has been made, and there are factions in the administration with differing views (The Hill).
  • Withdrawing from the Paris Agreement itself may do little harm, but withdrawing from the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change would be destructive, argues Ann Carlson at Take Care.
  • At the New York Times, Jasmine C. Lee and Adam Pearce explain how other countries may respond, and how the climate may be affected.
  • Some climate activists and advocates have suggested that withdrawing from the agreement would actually benefit the fight against climate change (WaPo).
  • Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) criticizes the expected withdrawal in The Hill.
  • In the Washington Post, Benjamin Sanderson suggests that withdrawing from the agreement would primarily harm the United States.
  • At Dorf on Law, Take Care contributor Michael Dorf argues that President Trump’s plan to withdraw from the Paris agreement is consistent with the position of the Republican Party.
  • Mitt Romney, the 2012 Republican presidential nominee, urged President Trump not to withdraw (The Hill).
  • Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, has threatened to leave President Trump’s Strategic and Policy Council if the administration withdraws from the agreement (The Hill).
  • Meanwhile, the Trump administration continues to review the Clean Power Plan (E&E News).

Under Administrator Scott Pruitt, the Environmental Protection Agency has become significantly less accessible to journalists, argues Emily Atkin in the New Republic.

The Environmental Protection Agency has announced a 90-day delay of an Obama-era regulation on methane emissions from oil and gas drilling (The Hill). 

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin suggested that he is open to permitting the use of medical marijuana in VA facilities, which may conflict with Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ expressed intent to crack down on medical marijuana (The Hill).

The Federal Communication Commission’s plans to reverse Obama-era “net neutrality” regulations may jeopardize developments in medical technology such as telemedicine and electronic health records, argue Mark Gaynor, Leslie Lenert, Kristin Wilson, and Scott Bradner in HealthAffairs Blog.

The Trump administration is considering reviving the controversial proposal to construct a nuclear waste storage facility at Yucca Mountain, Nevada (The Seeker).


Vice President Mike Pence’s advice to “follow the chain of command without exception” during his commencement speech at the U.S. Naval Academy raises ethical and legal concerns, argues Benjamin Haas at Just Security.


Maura Dolan documents how Tani Cantil-Sakauye, Chief Justice of the California Supreme Court, has responded to the challenges posed by the Trump administration, in the Los Angeles Times.


The House Intelligence Committee has issued seven subpoenas as part of its investigation into Russian interference, including to former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and to Trump attorney Michael Cohen. The committee also subpoenaed former Obama administration officials as part of its investigation into allegedly improper “unmasking” (CNN, The Hill, Wall Street Journal).

Congress is investigating whether Jeff Sessions may have had an additional private meeting with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak (CNN).

Former FBI director James Comey will testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee regarding his conversations with President Trump about the Russia investigation as early as next week (CNN, WaPo).

  • At ACS Blog, Dan Froomkin and Caroline Fredrickson discuss the legal status of Jared Kushner’s security clearance in the wake of reports of allegedly improper contacts with Russian officials.
  • In the Lawfare Podcast, Carrie Cordero, Susan Hennessey, and Benjamin Wittes discuss the supposed “backchannel” sought by Kushner (Lawfare). 

In The Hill, former Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) argues that Congress must continue its investigation into Russian interference, despite the appointment of a special counsel.

The Trump administration is moving to return to Russia two diplomatic compounds that the Obama administration took control of in response to Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election (WaPo).




Daily Update | December 23, 2019

12/23/19  //  Daily Update

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell seek to leverage uncertainties in the rules for impeachment to their advantage. White House officials indicated that President Trump threatened to veto a recent spending bill if it included language requiring release of military aid to Ukraine early next year. The DHS OIG said that it found “no misconduct” by department officials in the deaths of two migrant children who died in Border Patrol custody last year. And the FISA court ordered the Justice Department to review all cases that former FBI official Kevin Clinesmith worked on.

Emily Morrow

Harvard Law School

Daily Update | December 20, 2019

12/20/19  //  Daily Update

Speaker Nancy Pelosi indicated the House will be “ready” to move forward with the next steps once the Senate has agreed on ground rules, but the House may withhold from sending the articles to the Senate until after the new year. Commentary continues about the Fifth Circuit's mixed decision on the status of the ACA.

Emily Morrow

Harvard Law School

Daily Update | December 19, 2019

12/19/19  //  Daily Update

The House of Representatives voted to impeach President Trump. Some Democrats urge House leaders to withhold the articles to delay a trial in the Senate. Meanwhile, the Fifth Circuit issues an inconclusive decision about the future of the ACA, and DHS and DOJ proposed a new rulemaking to amend the list of crimes that bar relief for asylum seekers.

Emily Morrow

Harvard Law School