Checks & Balances

While the powers of the Presidency are vast, they are subject to the separation of powers.

The Attorney General, Hawaii Statehood, and National Injunctions

4/21/17  //  Quick Reactions

The AG's comments denigrating Hawaii statehood are objectionable for many reasons. But don't overlook his underlying complaint about national injunctions—which conservatives spent years developing and have suddenly, painfully discovered can be used against them.

Joshua Matz

Publisher

Echoes of History in Objections to Federal Enforcement of Voting Rights

4/21/17  //  Commentary

A letter about how to fix DOJ’s Civil Rights Division has some interesting parallels to a recent voting rights dissent.

Leah Litman

U.C. Irvine School of Law

There’s Unquestionably Standing in the CREW Case. Here’s Why.

4/19/17  //  In-Depth Analysis

The additional plaintiffs in the CREW case unquestionably have standing.

Jonathan Taylor

Gupta Wessler PLLC

Will Trump’s Lawyers Rewrite and Invert the Emoluments Clause?

4/18/17  //  In-Depth Analysis

NYT has leaked one of DOJ's theories in the emoluments clause case: that this is a "political question." Any such argument, however, would be exceptionally weak as a matter of text, precedent, and purpose, and would completely invert the basic operation of the Foreign Emoluments Clause.

Joshua Matz

Publisher

Information Wars Part III: Climate Changing the Facts

4/18/17  //  Commentary

The Trump administration is engaging in climate denial by concealing information relevant to environmental policy.

Leah Litman

U.C. Irvine School of Law

The Blind Side In Trump’s War On The Administrative State

4/17/17  //  Commentary

Neomi Rao’s nomination to serve as Administrator of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) is part of Trump and Bannon’s war on the administrative state.

Leah Litman

U.C. Irvine School of Law

Ian Samuel

Harvard Law School

Updates | The Week of April 3, 2017

4/9/17  //  Daily Update

A federal judge has allowed a lawsuit against President Trump for inciting violence at a campaign rally to go forward.

Updates | The Week of March 27, 2017

4/2/17  //  Daily Update

Rep. Devin Nunes, Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, disclosed that he made a visit to the White House to view intelligence files regarding President Trump's wiretapping claims. Commentators argued that this disclosure makes it hard for Republicans to claim impartiality as they investigate Russian interference.

Updates | The Week of March 27, 2017

4/2/17  //  Daily Update

This week, Jared Kushner was tapped to head a new "Office of Innovation." Niko Bowie and John D. Michaels provided commentary on Take Care. The White House's decision to prevent acting Attorney General Sally Yates from testifying demonstrates the administration's aggressive approach to executive privilege.

Updates | The Week of March 27, 2017

4/2/17  //  Daily Update

Niko Bowie argues on Take Care that the Supreme Court's recent warnings against appointments of "unfit characters" and "family connection" may be relevant to legally dubious Trump Administration appointments. Leah Litman and Dan Deacon explain that the judicial backlash to President Trump's revised entry ban is standard judicial practice in response to extraordinary events. And the Chief Justice of California used her State of the Judiciary Address to critique President Trump's immigration policies.

Updates | The Week of March 20, 2017

3/26/17  //  Daily Update

Experts questioned whether Judge Neil Gorsuch would provide a robust check on President Trump if confirmed to the Supreme Court and whether Obama-era legal precedents will provide dangerous latitude to the new administration.

The CBO-CBA Analogy, or What Wonks Could Learn from Each Other

3/17/17  //  In-Depth Analysis

Republican criticism of CBO's report on the American Health Care Act echoes long-standing criticism of cost-benefit analysis at OIRA. There are lessons to be learned here.

Jennifer Nou

University of Chicago Law School

Constitutional Hurdles for Concealed Carry Reciprocity

3/16/17  //  In-Depth Analysis

President Trump favors federal legislation requiring states to recognize concealed carry licenses issued by other states. But that policy rests on shaky constitutional foundations.

Joseph Blocher

Duke Law School

Improper Commands from President Trump's Employees?

3/16/17  //  Commentary

Key White House personnel might be violating important limits on their lawful authority.

Nikolas Bowie

Harvard Law School

NFIB v. Sebelius As Anti-Canon (a.k.a. This Administration’s Galling Constitutional Hypocrisy)

3/23/17  //  In-Depth Analysis

The Trump administration is engaged in stunning constitutional hypocrisy. Measured against conservatives' professed commitment to "liberty" and "freedom," there is no serious distinction to be drawn between Obamacare and Trump's American Health Care Act.

Leah Litman

U.C. Irvine School of Law

The Nuclear Option and Democratic Deterioration

4/10/17  //  Commentary

The Gorsuch nomination battle illustrates and exacerbates the dynamics of democratic deterioration. Reversing these trends will require elected officials to act with courage. It will also require significant structural changes to our political system.

Daniel P. Tokaji

Ohio State, Moritz College of Law

An Unconstitutional Threat to Sanctuary Cities

3/21/17  //  Commentary

DOJ argues that courts can't hear challenges to Trump's executive order threatening to punish sanctuary cities. Its arguments are wrong and prove that Trump's policy is illegal.

Nikolas Bowie

Harvard Law School

American Cognitive Dissonance

3/17/17  //  Commentary

Perhaps some good may come from Trump’s ham-fisted efforts to drain the swamp: a revitalization of the bureaucracy, which renders important services to the nation.

Jon D. Michaels

UCLA School of Law

No Peeking? Korematsu and Judicial Credulity

3/22/17  //  Commentary

The Supreme Court's decision in the Japanese Internment Cases offers a chilling reminder of why courts cannot close their eyes to clear evidence of bigotry in executive orders supposedly justified by security concerns.

Ian Samuel

Harvard Law School

Leah Litman

U.C. Irvine School of Law

McKayla Maroney Is Not Impressed (With DOJ's Brief in the Fourth Circuit)

3/27/17  //  In-Depth Analysis

The Department of Justice has filed a brief in the Fourth Circuit defending President Trump's revised entry ban. This is not an impressive brief: it is rife with misstatements of fact and incorrect legal arguments.

Leah Litman

U.C. Irvine School of Law

Cruise Missiles More Dangerous Than the "Nuclear Option"

4/10/17  //  Commentary

If Congress does nothing now to further delineate the scope of presidential authority to deploy military force, it will effectively be forfeiting, now and forever, its constitutional authority to check presidential moves short of all-out state-to-state war.

Peter M. Shane

Ohio State, Moritz College of Law

Judge Kozinski Asked The Wrong Question & Got The Wrong Answer

3/20/17  //  Commentary

Judge Alex Kozinski, among others, has argued that President Trump's campaign statements are irrelevant to assessing the Muslim Ban. But his argument starts with the wrong question, and inevitably reaches the wrong answer.

Amir Ali

Roderick & Solange MacArthur Justice Center

It’s Time To Pay Attention To Whom Trump Is Putting in Charge of Federal Agencies—And How He’s Doing It

3/17/17  //  Commentary

President Trump isn't nominating people to many positions requiring Senate confirmation. Instead, he's relying on employees who haven't been vetted through the advice & consent process. That's not okay.

Brianne J. Gorod

Constitutional Accountability Center

Justice Gorsuch, Executive Power, And Muslim Ban 2.0

3/20/17  //  In-Depth Analysis

A careful review of Judge Gorsuch's record reveals strong reason to believe that he would vote to uphold President Trump's revised Muslim Ban (and potentially many other executives abuses, too).

Leah Litman

U.C. Irvine School of Law

Amir Ali

Roderick & Solange MacArthur Justice Center

In Consumer Bureau Showdown, it’s Trump’s DOJ versus . . . Trump’s DOJ

4/12/17  //  Commentary

There's been a stunning development in the pending D.C. Circuit case about the CFPB's constitutionality: DOJ has recently filed a brief in another separation-of-powers case that directly and irrefutably contradicts the main argument in its brief attacking the CFPB.

Deepak Gupta

Gupta Wessler PLLC

Jonathan Taylor

Gupta Wessler PLLC

Jared Kushner's New SWAT Team More Like Neighborhood Watch

3/27/17  //  Quick Reactions

Trump's son-in-law will lead a new office to "overhaul the federal bureaucracy." But Kushner can't wield real power without crashing into federal anti-nepotism rules. So our new government efficiency czar can't make big decisions himself. Oh, the irony ...

Nikolas Bowie

Harvard Law School

Nunes Recuses. Sort Of. Now What?

4/7/17  //  Quick Reactions

Chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence Devin Nunes will step aside from the committee’s Russia investigation. Sort of. What does this mean -- and what comes next?

Ian Samuel

Harvard Law School

The Standard Fare of Judges: What Happens When the Judiciary Does What It Always Does

3/28/17  //  Commentary

The Muslim Ban litigation does not involve a "revolt of the judges." As proven by a survey of major and minor cases from the legal canon, this litigation involves only the standard fare of judging.

Daniel Deacon

U.C. Irvine School of Law

Leah Litman

U.C. Irvine School of Law

When Due Process Reliance Defenses May Bar Enforcement

3/24/17  //  Commentary

In limited but vital ways, those who relied on Obama-era immigration and marijuana non-enforcement policies should be protected against sudden shifts in federal policy under President Trump.

Zachary Price

U.C. Hastings College of the Law

The Trump Administration’s Immigration-Related Detentions

3/24/17  //  Commentary

The Supreme Court is considering a major constitutional challenge to federal immigration detention policies. Trump’s recent executive orders make that case even more significant.

Leah Litman

U.C. Irvine School of Law

(Apparent) Administration Justifications for Legality of Strikes Against Syria

4/8/17  //  Commentary

A document seeking to justify the use of force in Syria has begun circulating outside the government that is said to have been developed within the Administration. But there are significant flaws in this justification as a matter of domestic and international law.

Marty Lederman

Georgetown Law

On Key Issues, Judge Gorsuch Is Pro-Presidential Power

3/20/17  //  In-Depth Analysis

Although Judge Gorsuch is often described as "good" for the separation of powers, on key issues he is a formalist and would take a decisively pro-presidential view.

Leah Litman

U.C. Irvine School of Law

Secretary Price Can’t Fix The CBO Score By Regulating

3/16/17  //  Commentary

HHS Secretary Price says the CBO report on the American Health Care Act is not believable because he will reduce costs through regulatory changes. Don't be fooled.

Nick Bagley

University of Michigan Law School

Arresting the Deterioration of Democracy

3/31/17  //  Commentary

Troubling signs abound for American constitutional democracy. It isn't (yet) too late to halt the decline. But that will require the creation and implementation of a robust democracy agenda.

Daniel P. Tokaji

Ohio State, Moritz College of Law

Should the United States Have Special Elections for the Presidency?

3/27/17  //  Quick Reactions

Proposals for a "special election," potentially in response to evidence of Russian interference with the 2016 Presidential Election, raise major constitutional, political, and policy questions.

Ian Samuel

Harvard Law School

The Contingency of Partisanship

3/27/17  //  In-Depth Analysis

Both history and recent events make clear that President Trump can’t rely on partisan allegiance alone to save his presidency.

Josh Chafetz

Cornell Law School

The First Amendment Belongs Only to Americans? Wrong

3/29/17  //  Commentary

The First Amendment makes America great for everyone, not just for citizens.

Nikolas Bowie

Harvard Law School

Leah Litman

U.C. Irvine School of Law

Why Trump's Travel Ban Statements Compel a Finding of Improper Purpose

4/6/17  //  Commentary

Trump's statements about the revised travel ban overwhelmingly evidence a purpose at odds with the Establishment Clause. And few, if any, of those statements evince actual, substantive national security or foreign affairs objectives that explain the bizarre scope of his order.

Joshua Matz

Publisher

Information Wars Part II: Undermining Our Understanding of Police Practices

4/14/17  //  Commentary

As part of the Trump administration's war on information, the administration has started to roll back federal investigations into police violence and criminal justice.

Leah Litman

U.C. Irvine School of Law

Goodbye, U.S. Senate?

4/7/17  //  Quick Reactions

Abbe Gluck explains that the Republicans’ win-at-all-costs strategy will almost certainly lead next to the end of the filibuster for legislation, not just nominations, which would fundamentally change the culture of the Senate and be a tragic loss for our democracy.

Take Care

Trump Administration Appointments

4/4/17  //  Commentary

Between the torpor of President Trump’s sub-cabinet nominations, and his frequent preference to nominate persons lacking prior government experience, the deconstruction, or perhaps reconstruction, of the administrative state may be well under way.

Peter L. Strauss

Columbia Law School

Reliance Defenses in the Trump Era and Beyond

3/23/17  //  Commentary

The transition to President Trump has massively shifted federal enforcement priorities. Does the Constitution protect people who relied on Obama's immigration, healthcare, or marijuana policies?

Zachary Price

U.C. Hastings College of the Law

States Can Require Financial Disclosure by Presidential Candidates to Safeguard Electoral Transparency

4/6/17  //  In-Depth Analysis

Many states are considering bills requiring future federal presidential candidates to release tax returns, or comparable information, in order to be listed on the ballot. Such requirements are good policy and should be upheld under the Constitution.

Danielle Lang

The Campaign Legal Center

Ethics Complaints Against Lying Trump-Administration Lawyers

4/7/17  //  Commentary

There might still be some lies that people won't tolerate. Even from lawyers. And even from lawyers who are also politicians. Should those lies be the basis for discipline under legal ethics rules?

Charlie Gerstein

Civil Rights Corps

Real Reasons To Worry About Filibuster Repeal

4/10/17  //  Commentary

The filibuster repeal itself is ultimately far less important than some deeper trends it reflects concerning partisanship, institutional norms, and the separation of powers in our constitutional order.

Zachary Price

U.C. Hastings College of the Law

Alternative Facts & History, and Alarming Implications, in DOJ's CFPB Brief.

4/17/17  //  In-Depth Analysis

DOJ's brief attacking the CFPB is riddled with alternative facts and offers a fictional history of the separation of powers. It may inflict lasting damage on DOJ's credibility. And the implications of DOJ's position for the SEC, Federal Reserve, and U.S. Postal Service, among other federal agencies, are alarming.

Neil J. Kinkopf

George State University College of Law

Confusion Over The Essential Health Benefits

3/24/17  //  Quick Reactions

Last night, House Republicans released the text of the final manager’s amendment to the American Health Care Act. If it becomes law, the individual insurance market will likely collapse nationwide in 2018.

Nick Bagley

University of Michigan Law School

The Acosta Hearing & the “Deconstruction” of Federal Agencies

3/24/17  //  Quick Reactions

Hearings on President Trump's nominee for Secretary of Labor revealed little about the future of labor policy. But the hearings made crystal clear that Trump's executive orders and proposed budget threaten even popular and effective government programs.

Charlotte Garden

Seattle University School of Law

That Time When Republicans Re-Regulated Retirement Savings

4/11/17  //  In-Depth Analysis

Congressional Republicans care about one thing far more than their professed values and far more than the American people they claim to represent: protecting the financial services industry. This was recently made clear when they undid two key DOL rules.

Danielle D'Onfro

Washington University Law School

Why Courts Have Probed Trump’s Motives for the Travel Ban

4/4/17  //  Commentary

Perceptions of presidential bad faith have given judges the fortitude to do what the law already demands of them, even though their actions might prompt the President to bash them by name on TV or Twitter.

Joshua Matz

Publisher

A Landmark Victory for LGBT Rights (And The Path Ahead)

4/5/17  //  Commentary

The en banc Seventh Circuit has held that Title VII protects against sexual orientation discrimination. SCOTUS is likely to grant review of this important issue in the near future. But it remains unclear what position the Trump Administration will take.

Joshua Matz

Publisher

Why Did Trump Believe the Syria Strike Was Lawful?

4/10/17  //  Commentary

When the President unilaterally decides that America will start killing people in foreign countries, the least we can expect is a sound justification for that action under domestic and international law. Yet Trump has yet to offer one.

Joshua Matz

Publisher

Making Bureaucracy Great Again: Trump’s New Office of Innovation

3/27/17  //  Quick Reactions

Jared Kushner says he will run government like a business. But this administration has no understanding of government, or of business. And it doesn't respect the distinctive, unbusinesslike practices and principles of running a government.

Jon D. Michaels

UCLA School of Law

Motive Matters in Assessing the Travel Ban

3/20/17  //  Commentary

To the extent that Trump’s statements about the travel ban shed light on why the executive orders were issued—and they surely do—those statements are material to the constitutional analysis.

Richard Primus

University of Michigan Law School

SCOTUS Warns Against Appointing "Unfit Characters"

3/24/17  //  Quick Reactions

A decision this week reminds us that President Trump is bound by laws, which he is violating, in making key appointments. The Acting U.S. Trade Representative, for instance, might well be occupying that role unlawfully.

Nikolas Bowie

Harvard Law School

Desuetude and Immigration Enforcement

3/16/17  //  Commentary

It's time to force Congress back into the conversation about immigration enforcement. Here's how.

Jamal Greene

Columbia Law School

Sherley You’re Joking

3/27/17  //  Commentary

A confused and poorly reasoned decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit shouldn’t be read to shield agencies from judicial review whenever they happen to be following an executive order.

Nick Bagley

University of Michigan Law School

Can Trump Treat the Consumer Bureau’s Director Like a Contestant on Celebrity Apprentice?

4/13/17  //  Commentary

The future of the CFPB remains murky. With political attacks and judicial challenges piling up, here's what you need to know about the path ahead for Elizabeth Warren's crowning achievement.

Deepak Gupta

Gupta Wessler PLLC

Jonathan Taylor

Gupta Wessler PLLC

See You In Court 2.0

3/16/17  //  In-Depth Analysis

Last night, a federal judge in Hawaii blocked Trump's revised entry ban. Here is a detailed analysis of its decision and an assessment of what likely will happen next in that litigation.

Leah Litman

U.C. Irvine School of Law

The World Is Not Made Brand New Every Morning

3/20/17  //  Commentary

Judge Kozinski thinks that we cannot account for President Trump's campaign statements in the Muslim Ban cases. That is wrong. Courts can, and should, reckon with this history in assessing whether Trump's ban comports with religious neutrality.

Jonathan Taylor

Gupta Wessler PLLC

Congress’s Vital Power of the Purse

4/5/17  //  Commentary

The upcoming budget fights will be ugly and brutal, but they implicate the most important practical means of constraining this president (or any other)—Congress’s power over appropriations. But the nature and limits of that power remain shockingly undefined.

Zachary Price

U.C. Hastings College of the Law

Presidential Bad Faith

3/16/17  //  Commentary

If the President cannot be trusted to “take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed,” then that obligation falls on “We the People."

Laurence H. Tribe

Harvard Law School

Youngstown Zone Zero

3/16/17  //  Commentary

Justice Jackson's famous separation of powers framework offers no support for President Trump's entry ban. In fact, it's irrelevant.

Leah Litman

U.C. Irvine School of Law

Ian Samuel

Harvard Law School

Faith in the Ninth Circuit

3/16/17  //  Commentary

An analysis of Judge Bybee's dissent from denial of rehearing en banc in Washington v. Trump, and some predictions about the future of President Trump's revised entry ban.

Daniel Hemel

University of Chicago Law School

Republican (and Democratic) Hypocrisy on Faithful Execution

3/17/17  //  Commentary

President Obama pushed the limits of enforcement discretion. Trump may be worse. Will anyone check him if he is?

Zachary Price

U.C. Hastings College of the Law

Updates | The Week of March 20, 2017

3/26/17  //  Daily Update

Congress continued its investigations of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. One Representative argued that Congress should block the administration’s proposed budget cuts to the State Department.