Neil Gorsuch is the first U.S. Supreme Court justice to join the court mid-term since Samuel Alito did in 2006, a Bloomberg story says. But he shouldn't have much trouble getting up to speed for his first day today, said Emory Law Associate Professor Alexander Volokh. Preparing for arguments should be easy given his decade on a federal appeals court. "He's just going to be reading the briefs in the cases, and he knows how to do that," Volokh said.
Was President Donald Trump morally justified in launching 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian air base in response to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad's chemical attack on his own citizens? CNN asked experts from five faiths. Emory Law Professor and Rabbi Michael Broyde responded: "As I understand the facts, Trump struck a military target directly connected to the gas attack. To the extent that there is ever a situation in which military force is proper and appropriate, from a Jewish legal and ethical standpoint, it is to defend civilians against just such an attack. Attacking the airfield is the most ethically defensible thing to do."
Former president Jimmy Carter says he hopes President Donald Trump's words and actions will "reinvigorate" the women's movement in this country, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. The U.S. tendency to champion human rights and international law has weakened in the past few years, he said, a trend that's intensifying now. Carter was Emory Law's invited speaker for the annual David J. Bederman Lecture on April 6.
Beneath the radar, President Trump nominated Judge Amul R. Thapar to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. "The nomination says something about Trump's strategy for filling the numerous vacancies on the lower federal courts," Emory Law Professor Jonathan Nash writes for The Hill. "And in the long run, it may have a larger impact than the nomination of Gorsuch" for the Supreme Court.
Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal says he opposes a Senate effort to add "religious liberty" protections to a bill dealing with adoptions, a change that could allow private adoption agencies receiving public money to refuse to place children with LGBT families. Melissa Carter, director of Emory"s Barton Child Law and Policy Center, is also concerned the bill could be defeated because of the proposed change. "It's certainly a possibility that the entire bill could be lost as a casualty of these efforts," she said. Lost in the fight is how much the present laws need an update, she says. "As a legal practice, adoption is a highly technical area. Over time it needs to be updated and modernized."
A change intended to modernize Georgia's adoption laws would allow private foster and adoption agencies to refuse services based on their "mission as evidenced by its written policy, statement or other document." But child advocates say that may violate federal law and have a negative effect on children in state care. "This could very much harm them in the disruption of our placement protocols, in curtailing the resources that we currently have, and frankly, in conveying a sense to any given child that 'you are unwanted'--again, and again, and again," said Melissa Carter, director of Emory Law's Barton Child Law and Policy Center.
After the 9/11 attacks, the U.S. responded in self-defense against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan "and has since used force against al Qaeda and several affiliated groups from Pakistan to Yemen to Syria to Somalia and beyond," Emory Law's Laurie Blank writes in a column for Jurist. It raises two important questions, she says. "How long does self-defense last ... and how far can a state go--both in the geographic sense and in the sense of the legitimate aims of using force--when acting in self defense?"
A Georgia voter redistricting plan has raised charges that it is designed to dilute the influence of minority voters and protect members of GOP who came close to losing their seats in the last election. Republicans say there is nothing "sinister or underhanded" about the bill. If passed, the redistricting may be open to court challenge. "The issue in Georgia, and in the North Carolina cases, is whether the predominant intent of the legislature is racial or partisan," said Emory Law Professor Michael Kang.
SEC officials didn't attend an annual conference for Wall Street bond dealmakers in Las Vegas last week, Bloomberg reports. The agency is bracing for deep spending reductions in President Donald Trump's budget proposal, the story says. "We're already seeing a quieter enforcement regime" since the change of administration, said Emory Law Associate Professor Urska Velikonja. "The number of enforcement cases is likely to be down considerably going forward."
Immigration Court judges in Atlanta are failing to uphold ethical standards that ensure immigrants receive fair and impartial treatment, according to a seven-week study by Emory Law students and the Southern Poverty Law Center, which was recently featured on the Immigration Prof Blog. "These observations confirm the Atlanta Immigration Court's reputation as a system where judges fail to respect the rule of law," said Adjunct Professor Hallie Ludsin of Emory Law School, who led the law students in their court monitoring.
The Trump administration is struggling to revise its executive order limiting travel to the United States for citizens of seven majority-Muslim countries, McClatchy News reports. A new order needs to address two key aspects to prevent another suspension, Emory Law Professor Polly Price says. It must honor green-card holders' permanent resident status and not apply to the temporary visas of those already here. It also needs a better justification of why these countries are being singled out so it doesn't appear to be based on religion. "It's reasonable to believe that green card holders would have constitutional rights, at least to some degree," she said. However, temporary visitors who haven't yet entered the U.S. "don't have any rights that we can review."
"The US Department of Agriculture recently removed all government inspection reports of animal facilities from its website, abolishing transparency of businesses and universities using animals and severely undermining the ability to prevent even the most extreme animal abuse," Emory Law Professor Ani Satz writes for CNN. Some were reposted later, but "reducing public access to inspection reports undermines government accountability and animal protection."
"The Trump administration showed its hand on Friday, when the Department of Justice withdrew its request that a Texas district court lift its stay in a case dealing with access to bathrooms for transgender students," Emory Law Professor Tim Holbrook writes for CNN. "The action by the DOJ in Texas on its face seems minor. In fact, it is quite revealing. LGBTQ rights will not be defended at the federal level. Those in favor of LGBTQ equality will need to defend themselves against efforts in states to ban the use of restrooms and to embrace so-called religious-liberty bills. The fight is now our own. We won't be able to look to this administration for help."
Under the Trump Administration, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) enforcement officers say, they are now authorized to use their discretion to make more arrests than they did under the Obama Administration. Last week, they began an aggressive push to do that. President Trump promises to increase arrests and deportations as soon as he can. There are other considerations, says Emory Law Professor Polly Price. "It's completely dependent on Congress," she tells WXIA, "to add more staff to ICE, to add more staff on the border, and also... to fully staff and add to the immigration courts."
EPA Director Scott Pruitt's mission to roll back Obama EPA regulations, particularly on climate, could be as simple as rereading the Clean Air Act, Bloomberg News writes. "If confirmed as administrator, Pruitt could revive some of the arguments he had offered against Obama-era EPA regulations, reading new limits on the agency's power that could pass judicial muster," the story says. Nash commented on how using the Chevon rule affects agency policy.
President Donald Trump's derisive comments about judges, including Federal District Judge James Robart, whom he labeled a "so-called judge" have been widely criticized, Emory Law Professor Jonathan Nash writes for The Hill. But Trump is only continuing a trend that began long ago. "Those who are troubled by his comments would do well to address the problem as a whole rather than fixate on the Trump as the sole offender," he writes.
An Arkansas Supreme Court case that questions whether a city can pass laws that exceed a state's existing antidiscrimination protections could be a bellwether on how clashes between liberal cities and conservative states are resolved, Emory Law Professor Tim Holbrook told the Wall Street Journal. "I think at present it's isolated, but it has the potential to grow," Holbrook said of the case's impact. if the state wins, he says, courts elsewhere might also argue that the need for uniformity across cities and counties outweighs cities' and counties' right to pass their own antidiscrimination protections.
Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch frequently dissents when a court majority seeks to impose federal authority over other governing bodies, says an Associated Press story. Emory Law Associate Professor Alexander Volokh says Gorsuch's views on the power of federal agencies could be particularly important with Donald Trump in the White House. "For anyone who is concerned about abuses of power under Trump," he said, "that sort of person would really welcome a theory that would limit how much authority the agencies would have to say what the statutes mean."
Emory Law professor Polly Price spoke with CNN's Jonathan Mann about the real-life and legal implications of the suspension of President Trump's travel ban. She doesn't expect a quick decision on the merits of the case, calling it an enormously complex issue. However, Trump's argument that his executive order is not subject to judicial review could set up a constitutional conflict, she says.
Despite the fact they believe former President Obama was denied his right to appoint the next U.S. Supreme Court justice, Emory Law's Visiting Professor Fred Smith Jr. writes he hopes Democrats will not play tit for tat at confirmation hearings. "Judge Gorsuch is a brilliant jurist. And while I will likely often disagree with him on the rights of the accused, the right scope of extra-textual concepts like 'sovereign immunity,' or how broadly to understand statutes like the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, he should be treated with respect and receive a fair hearing," he says.
When the University of California, Berkeley canceled an appearance by Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos because of violent protests, President Trump appeared to threaten, via tweet, to cut the college's federal funding. The government can't pull funding by retroactively saying federal money is contingent on protecting free speech, Associate Professor Alexander Volokh told the Chronicle of Higher Education. "If the funding comes explicitly with strings attached, which is that you must adequately protect free speech on your campus if you want these funds, and if the university takes these funds knowing the condition, that's one thing," he said.
There is reason to believe, Emory Law Professor Jonathan Nash writes for The Hill, that Gorsuch's greatest impact (at least in the short-term) will be on the question of how much deference courts should afford agencies when they interpret federal statutes. "Signals from Gorsuch's court of appeals opinions indicate a desire by the judge to restore some measure of judicial supremacy over statutory interpretation," he adds.
Charles Shanor will retire this month after 41 years of teaching. In addition to his role as a beloved professor, he also established institutions that will endure at Emory Law well beyond his tenure. In 2013, Shanor created the Emory Law Volunteer Clinic for Veterans with Director Emeritus Lane Dennard and two student leaders; he currently serves as co-director.
Professor Alexander Volokh has known Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch for more than 20 years. "Generally, I don't have any expectation that Trump will do the right thing, so I'm unexpectedly pleased that--of the three judges who were apparently on Trump's short list--Judge Gorsuch is probably the best on civil liberties issues," he writes for the Washington Post's Volokh Conspiracy.
Black sites and extraordinary renditions indicate by their very name that they lie outside the norm of ordinary behavior, writes Laurie Blank, director of Emory Law's International Humanitarian Law Clinic. Reports that President Trump is preparing an executive order that could reinstate the use of secret overseas prisons for detention and interrogation would violate international law, she writes in an op-ed for The Hill.