Senator Robert Menendez and his close friend Salomon Melgen, a Florida eye doctor, are heading to a jury decision after U.S. District Judge William Walls ruled that the indictment against them for public corruption would stand. Menendez not only stands in considerable jeopardy for his highly questionable relationship with Melgen but his conviction could flip the seat in the Senate since Governor Chris Christie would appoint his successor. ( A new governor will be elected for January).
There are now eighteen states and the District of Columbia lined up to challenge the executive order by President Donald Trump to rescind the Obama order giving insurance companies billions in subsidies . . . without an appropriation of Congress. As explained below, this challenge advances a rather curious claim that Trump cannot rescind an earlier order found to be flagrantly unconstitutional by a federal court. In most high-profile litigation cases, counsel spends considerable time exploring whether a challenge will allow a bad case to make bad law on appeal. That would seem the most likely outcome here but much of the litigation by Democratic Attorneys General have been driven more by political than legal calculations. Voters now expect every act of Trump to be challenged and no Democratic AG wants to be the only one to sit out a challenge to an unpopular order. The result is a type of perpetual litigation machine where bad precedent is being cranked out because it is viewed as good politics.
Here is the column:
Below is my column in the Hill Newspaper on the proposals for new gun control measures in the wake of the Las Vegas massacre. As I discuss below, there are some obvious possible measures that could pass constitutional muster like banning bump stocks (which allow semi-automatic weapons to perform more like automatic weapons) and conversion kits. However, these proposals would not have prevented the massacre. There are many “work arounds” for semi-automatic weapons and Paddock would have likely passed any enhanced background checks. Nevertheless, GOP members have expressed interest in some additional gun control measures.
Here is the column:
Scott Fitzgerald once said “The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” If so, Republican Rep. Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania is a certifiable genius. However, in this case, Murphy’s two opposing views have cost him his seat in Congress. Murphy, who has run on a pro-life platform in securing eight terms in Congress, has struggled to explain emails where he asked his mistress to get an abortion. He has now announced his retirement from Congress to “take personal time.” The story is credited to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
I just returned from a terrific event at Christopher Newport University on Constitution Day — a debate with Professor John Yoo. While we were delighted by the large number of students who appeared to listen to the debate, we discussed the recent poll on the lack of knowledge of citizens. A recent poll by the Annenberg Public Policy Center (APPC) found that, in a survey of over 1,000 citizens, only a quarter were able to name all three branches of the federal government. We just discussed the poll showing that four out of ten Americans cannot name a single right under the first amendment. Once again, these polls leave us with the troubling prospect of a woefully uneducated public on their own government.
While the world did not end as announced on Saturday (which has proven an incredible inconvenience for those of us having to teach next week), the Trump travel ban did end on Sunday. When the Supreme Court lifted a significant part of the injunctions imposed on the bans by lower courts, there was a surprising footnote in the short order that I discussed at the time. The Court indicated that the Trump Administration had not asked for an expedited hearing before October. That set the travel ban up for what I described as “planned obsolescence” to expire shortly before the scheduled oral argument.
For years, we have been discussing how airlines have repeatedly misled Congress and the public about baggage fees, which were always an avenue to bilk customers of billions. Now a new report confirms again that this is not about fuel costs or falling revenues. The airlines are continuing to cut space for passengers, add charges for simple comforts, and raising baggage fees as they hit record profits. The U.S. airlines alone pulled in a record $1.2 billion in bag fees and another $737.5 million in reservation change fees in just the second quarter of 2017.