Birthright Citizenship and Presidential Power

The Halloween season is traditionally a time for scares and surprises in the United States. This year, President Trump got in on the act, floating a truly shocking idea on October 30. In an interview with Axios, the President declared that he intended to sign an executive order ending birthright citizenship in the United States. Before diving into the law, it is worth pausing to consider what a  breathtaking idea it is that the President could unilaterally determine who counts as a citizen.

Continue Reading →

Is the U.S. President Above the Law?

On June 4, President Trump tweeted that the President has the absolute right to issue pardons, even to himself. The President’s claim came close on the heels of the New York Times’s publication of a letter two White House attorneys had sent months earlier to Robert Mueller, the Special Counsel appointed to investigate links between Trump’s election campaign and the Russian government. The lawyers argued that the President’s firing of FBI Director James Comey could not constitute obstruction of justice, because the President is the chief law enforcement officer of the nation, and can fire the FBI Director for any reason at all. Can it really be the case that the President of the United States is above the law?

Continue Reading →

More Emolument Trouble For President Trump?

Emoluments is the word of the hour again in the United States. The past week saw the filing of two new lawsuits alleging that President Trump has violated one or more of the Constitution’s emoluments clauses by accepting payments and other benefits from foreign and domestic governments. What’s significant about the new suits is who the plaintiffs are. One is brought by the state of Maryland and Washington, D.C., the other by 196 members of Congress, all Democrats. Are these the plaintiffs who can get a court to rule, for the first time ever, on what “emolument” means as used in the Constitution?

Continue Reading →

Trump and the FBI: Four very quick questions and answers from SANFORD LEVINSON

US President Donald Trump, to the bewildered horror of many, has dismissed FBI director James Comey in the middle of an investigation about his aides' ties to Russia. Some even call this situation a constitutional crisis. We have shot Constitutional Law professor Sandy Levinson four very quick questions and received four equally short answers.

Continue Reading →

"A Roguish and Unpopular President is potentially an Occasion for the Judiciary to Shine"

Will Democrats be able to block Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation as Supreme Court Justice, and how will it affect the Court if they won’t? Mattias Kumm on the latest developments in the nomination process and the judiciary’s role in holding the Trump administration in check.

Continue Reading →

Schlechte (und verfassungswidrige) Ideen reisen schnell: Einreisestopp und Grundgesetz

Es war wohl zu erwarten. Die europäischen Rechtspopulisten haben unlängst in Koblenz den grenzüberschreitenden Schulterschluss geübt. Anwesend im Geiste war ohne Zweifel auch Donald Trump, der in vielerlei Hinsicht gegenwärtig der Posterboy der rechten Populisten ist. Mit seinem Einreisestopp vom Januar ist Trump zwar bislang krachend an den rechtsstaatlichen Prinzipien gescheitert, die die Gerichte ihm entgegengehalten haben. Dieses Scheitern hielt aber weder Trump davon ab, am Montag einen zweiten Anlauf zu unternehmen, einen Einreisestopp zu verankern, noch hindert es seine Epigonen daran, ähnlich krude Vorschläge für andere Staaten in die Welt zu setzen.

Continue Reading →

Trump’s Muslim Ban and its Constitutional Limits

The dramatic executive orders of the newly inaugurated President of the United States, Donald Trump, including, most infamously, his executive order excluding Syrian refugees from entry into the United States, and popularly known as the “Muslim ban,” has raised not only hackles among many outside observers, but also questions about the legality of these orders. The short answer is that some of the matters set out in his executive orders, including those affecting refugees, are almost certainly legal, while other aspects of those orders raise significant issues under the United States constitution.

Continue Reading →