Derek Reinbold  //  4/16/17  //  Topic Update


President Trump has officially notified Congress of U.S. military action against Syria (Politico).

  • Here is the President’s letter to Congress.
  • President Trump must reveal his reasoning and the Administrations’ legal justifications for the Syria strikes, writes Joshua Matz at Take Care.
  • Marty Lederman considers the Trump Administration’s legal reasoning for the strikes based on apparent Administration guidance at Take Care.
  • United to Protect Democracy filed a FOIA request to obtain President Trump’s legal justification for the strike.
  • Jennifer Daskal calls for the Trump Administration to release its full legal rationale for the strikes (Just Security).
  • John B. Bellinger, III reacts to the President’s report sent to Congress following the strike at (Lawfare).
  • Ryan Goodman recounts the views of top legal experts at (Just Security).
  • John B. Bellinger, III considers possible legal bases for the Syrian strike (Lawfare).
  • Andrew J. Bacevich argues that the strikes are a considerable encroachment on congressional war powers (Boston Globe).
  • Steven D. Schwinn concludes that congressional authorization isn’t needed for a strike against ISIS (Constitutional Law Prof Blog).
  • Large-scale military intervention against Syria will require congressional authorization, argues Ilya Somin at The Volokh Conspiracy.
  • Charlie Savage outlines significant international and domestic legal issues raised by President Trump’s military strike against Syria (NYT).
  • Harold Koh argues that the strike was not prohibited by the U.S. Constitution or the U.N. Charter (Just Security).
  • Marty Lederman disagrees, arguing that the strikes was not permitted as humanitarian intervention under the U.N. Charter.
  • Jens David Ohlin agrees with Koh, arguing the strike was permissible under Article 51 of the U.N. Charter (Opinio Juris).
  • Marko Milanovic concludes the strike was “clearly illegal” (EJIL: Talk!).
  • Hina Shamsi condemns the strikes as an illegal response to horrific atrocities (ACLU).
  • Michael J. Adams questions whether the Trump Administration justifies the strike on legal or moral grounds (Lawfare).
  • Jack Goldsmith examines the strike through the lens Office of Legal Counsel precedents (Lawfare).
  • Responding to Goldsmith, Andrew Kent argues that consensus has emerged regarding the interplay between presidential and congressional war powers (Lawfare).
  • Deborah Pearlstein questions whether the relevant international law principles in 2017 differ from those in 2013 (Opinio Juris).
  • Similarly, Julian Ku compares current arguments to those advanced in 2012–2013 (Opinio Juris).
  • Conor Friedersdorf argues that the strikes were “unconstitutional and unwise” (The Atlantic).
  • Edward Swaine breaks down the debate on international versus domestic law grounds (Opinio Juris).
  • Julian Ku notes a lack of criticism of the strike by other states (Opinio Juris), and comments specifically on China’s refusal to condemn the strike (Lawfare).
  • Michael Schmitt and Chris Ford discuss whether humanitarian intervention is an emerging norm (Just Security).
  • Monica Hakimi analyzes initial implications in the context of jus ad bellum (EJIL: Talk!).
  • Ashley Deeks compares the Syria strikes to the 1999 NATO intervention in Kosovo.
  • Marko Milanovic writes that the strikes maybe be illegal but legitimate (EJIL: Talk!).
  • Congress needs to act now to prevent forfeiting its roll as a constitutional check on the President’s war powers forever, argues Peter M. Shane at Take Care
  • At EJIL: Talk! Anthea Roberts warns that the U.S.’s failure to legally justify its actions in Syria will incentivize China and Russia to ignore international law. 
  • At Opinio Juris, Jens David Ohlin elaborates on his previous post on the right to self-defense and humanitarian intervention.
  • The Trump Administration’s military action against Syria last week was markedly different from President Obama’s plans in 2013, explains Ryan Goodman (Just Security).  
  • Ilya Somin examines partisan bias in the reaction to President Trump’s Syria strike (Volokh Conspiracy).
  • Jens David Ohlin posits that arguments against humanitarian intervention, such as the U.S. strike in Syria, tend to ignore principles beyond reducing international armed conflict (Opinio Juris).
  • Congressional silence and mixed signals on the intervention in Syria is an abdication of constitutional responsibility to weigh in, thereby contributing to meaningful limits on presidential power, argues Chris Edelson (ACSblog).
  • The Trump Administration risks making a bad situation in Syria even worse if it fails to develop a strong long-term plan, notes Ammar Abdulhamid (Lawfare).

Russia vetoed a UN resolution, drafted by the US, the UK, and France, condemning the use of chemical weapons in Syria last week and urging that Bashar al-Assad comply with international investigators (ReutersCNN).

Following military strikes last week, the Trump Administration has told Russia to end its support for Syrian President Assad (WaPo). 

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has said that the U.S. would punish those “who commit crimes against the innocents anywhere in the world.” (NYT)

There should be protocol or standardized expectation governing the executive’s disclosure of legal posture and process relating to military actions, urges Bob Bauer at Lawfare.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is open to new sanctions against Russia, reports Jordain Carney (The Hill).

The Trump Administration’s stance on human rights seems “muddled” following Egyptian President al-Sisi’s visit this week, argue Eric Rosand and Alistair Millar (Just Security).

International law has failed to clearly address humanitarian intervention in Syria, argues Rebecca Ingber (Just Security).

  • Proposals to erode the U.N. Charter system fail to consider that the international legal system is likely incapable of making nuanced use-of-force distinctions, writes Ingrid Wuerth at Lawfare.

Signals that the Trump Administration may leave a global anti-corruption initiative may portend the end of U.S. involvement in many similar international agreements, argues Amelia Evans (Just Security).

Contradicting a campaign promise, Trump said he would not label China a currency manipulator (WSJ).

Noting NATO’s anti-terror efforts, Trump reversed his campaign position and said the organization is no longer obsolete (CNN).

Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter, which relates to when a country can use force, is “largely irrelevant,” argues Josh Blackmun (Blackmun's Blog).

A bipartisan bill has been introduced in the Senate to advance accountability for international crimes committed in Syria (CSPAN).

  • The full bill can be found here.
  • At Just Security, Beth van Schaack outlines the key elements of the legislation.

Updates | The Week of January 22, 2018

1/28/18  //  Daily Update

President Trump threatened to take aid away from Palestine if Palestinian leadership remained unwilling to negotiate with Israel. Vice President Mike Pence announced that the new embassy in Jerusalem would open in 2019.

Updates | The Week of January 15, 2018

1/14/18  //  Daily Update

President Trump refuses to certify that the Iranian nuclear disarmament deal is in America’s best interests, but is expected to allow the accord to continue. The Trump administration announces it will suspend most security assistance to Pakistan.

Zachary Piaker

Columbia Law School

Updates | The Week of December 18, 2017

12/24/17  //  Daily Update

President Trump said in a speech on national security that Russia and China “seek to challenge American influence, values and wealth,” but did not directly address Russian interference in the 2016 election. A majority of nations in the United Nations General Assembly voted in favor of a resolution rebuking America's decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and relocate the US embassy to the city.