blog

March 27, 2017

Neil Gorsuch and the Deconstruction of the Administrative State

When Donald Trump’s chief of staff Reince Priebus addressed the Conservative Political Action Committee in February, he identified two priorities of the administration: the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, and deregulation.

It turns out that elevating Gorsuch to the Supreme Court and achieving deregulation are inextricably linked.Read more

March 23, 2017

Gorsuch Would Use “Originalism” to Affirm Right-Wing Agenda

Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch says he’s an “originalist.” The late Justice Antonin Scalia, whom Gorsuch called “a lion of the law,” also championed originalism. Justice Clarence Thomas now stands alone on the high court as a self-proclaimed originalist.

Largely discredited by courts and legal scholars, originalism is ultimately a way to reach a right-wing result under the guise of following the original intent of the authors of the Constitution.Read more

March 17, 2017

Evaluate New Muslim Ban in Light of International Law

After a federal district court judge and a unanimous three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Donald Trump’s Executive Order (EO) instituting a travel ban was likely illegal, the president suspended it and issued a new EO on March 6, 2017.

On March 15, a federal judge granted a temporary restraining order in Hawaii v. Trump et al., halting the operation of the new EO nationwide. US District Judge Derrick K. Watson found that plaintiffs met their burden of establishing a strong likelihood of success on the merits of their Establishment Clause claim, that irreparable injury is likely if the requested relief is not issued, and that the balance of the equities and public interest counsel in favor of granting the requested relief.

When the case is heard on the merits, the legality of the new EO, which categorically suspends immigration from six Muslim majority countries to the United States, should be assessed in light of US treaty and customary international law, according to an amicus brief filed in the case.Read more

February 16, 2017

Trump Challenges the Limits of Executive Power

When Donald Trump learned that a federal district court had refused to reinstate his Muslim ban last week, he tweeted in all caps, “SEE YOU IN COURT!” Aside from this strange reaction to a court decision, Trump’s angry outburst raises the question: Is the president allowed to have whatever he wants? To better understand the limits of his power, let’s look back at his attempt to unilaterally impose the Muslim ban, and the ways in which it has been blocked so far.

A week after he was inaugurated, Trump created a constitutional showdown by issuing his executive order prohibiting nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States.

People from Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Yemen and Sudan were banned from the US for 90 days. The executive order also indefinitely forbade Syrian refugees, even those granted visas, from entry into the US. And it suspended the resettlement of all refugees for 120 days.Read more

Toxic Policies of ‘President Agent Orange’

Rapper Busta Rhymes pegged it at the Grammy Awards when he referred to Donald Trump as “President Agent Orange.” While performing with A Tribe Called Quest and Anderson Paak, Rhymes used the opportunity to call out Trump for his Muslim ban and “all of the evil” Trump has perpetrated since assuming the presidency three weeks ago.

Rhymes said, “I just wanna thank President Agent Orange for perpetuating all of the evil that you’ve been perpetrating throughout the United States,” adding, “I wanna thank President Agent Orange for your unsuccessful attempt at the Muslim ban. Now we come together! We the people! We the people! We the people!”

For some younger readers who may not be familiar with the term, Agent Orange was an herbicidal chemical weapon sprayed over 12 percent of Vietnam by the U.S. military from 1961 to 1971. The dioxin present in Agent Orange is one of the most toxic chemicals known to humankind.Read more

February 4, 2017

Trump’s Unconstitutional Muslim Ban

On January 27, 2017, President Trump made good on his campaign promise to institute a ban on Muslims entering the US. Trump’s executive order(“EO”) is titled “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States.”

The EO bars nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries from the US for at least 90 days. They include Iraq, Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Yemen, and Sudan. The EO also indefinitely prevents Syrian refugees, even those granted visas, from entering the US. And it suspends the resettlement of all refugees for 120 days.

None of the 9/11 hijackers came from the seven countries covered by the EO; 15 of the 19 men hailed from Saudi Arabia, which is not on the list. No one from the seven listed countries has mounted a fatal terrorist attack in the United States.

Countries exempted from the EO include Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon and the United Arab Emirates — countries where Trump apparently has business ties.Read more

February 3, 2017

Trump’s Choice of Gorsuch Endangers Civil, Human and Environmental Rights

As promised, President Trump has nominated to the Supreme Court a judge in the mold of the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Neil Gorsuch, like Scalia, is an “originalist,” who interprets the Constitution the way he thinks the founders intended and a “textualist,” who favors the plain meaning of statutes and the Constitution.

Gorsuch is a very conservative judge who would likely rubber-stamp much of Trump’s reactionary agenda. At age 49, Gorsuch, who would be the youngest justice on the Court if confirmed, could help shape US jurisprudence for three or four decades.Read more

January 30, 2017

Remembering Legendary People’s Lawyer Len Weinglass

In the great tradition of Clarence Darrow, Charles Garry, Ernest Goodman, William Kunstler, Carol Weiss King, Arthur Kinoy, Constance Baker Motley and Michael Ratner, legendary people’s lawyer Leonard Weinglass defended the poor and disenfranchised who struggled for social justice.

Weinglass is now immortalized in “Len: A Lawyer in History,” a valuable graphic historical work by cartoonist/writer Seth Tobocman. The book features some of Weinglass’ most significant cases, analyzing them in the historical context of the political movements in which they took place.Read more

January 25, 2017

The Injustices of Manning’s Ordeal

After overseeing the aggressive prosecution and near-seven-year incarceration of Army whistleblower Chelsea Manning, President Obama – in one of his last acts in office – commuted all but four months of her remaining sentence but ignored the fact that he had taken no action on the war crimes that Manning revealed.

At his final news conference, Obama explained his reasons for commuting Manning’s record-setting 35-year sentence for leaking classified information to the public. Manning is scheduled to be released on May 17.

“Chelsea Manning has served a tough prison sentence,” Obama said. “It has been my view that given she went to trial; that due process was carried out; that she took responsibility for her crime; that the sentence that she received was very disproportionate relative to what other leakers had received; and that she had served a significant amount of time; that it made sense to commute and not pardon her sentence. … I feel very comfortable that justice has been served.”

But there has been no justice for the Iraqis and Afghans whose unjustified deaths and mistreatment were exposed by the then-22-year-old Army private, known at the time as Bradley Manning. An Army intelligence analyst in Iraq, Manning sent hundreds of thousands of classified files, documents and videos, including the “Collateral Murder” video, the “Iraq War Logs,” the “Afghan War Logs” and State Department cables, to WikiLeaks. Many of the items that she transmitted contained evidence of war crimes.Read more

State-Sanctioned Torture in the Age of Trump

During the presidential campaign, Donald Trump declared he would “immediately” resume waterboarding and would “bring back a hell of a lot worse than waterboarding” because the United States is facing a “barbaric” enemy. He labeled waterboarding a “minor form” of interrogation.

Waterboarding, which involves pouring water into the nose and mouth to make victims feel like they’re drowning, has long been considered torture, which is a war crime under US and international law. Indeed, the United States hung Japanese military leaders for waterboarding as a war crime after World War II.

In late November 2016, Vice President Mike Pence refused to rule out torture in the Trump administration.Read more