Analysis and Commentary on Politics
The Oldest Republican Pander in the Book: “Do It for Our Children and Grandchildren”

UF Levin College of Law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan reacts to a comment by Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick that older people should be “willing to take a chance on [their] survival in exchange for keeping the America that all America loves for [their] children and grandchildren.” Buchanan points out that Patrick’s suggestion has been rightly mocked but that it is not usual for Republicans to claim, hypocritically, that older people should make sacrifices for younger generations.

What Should Democrats Do About Republicans’ Insistence on Lining Their Own Pockets With the Stimulus Plan?

UF Levin College of Law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan discusses the ongoing negotiations in Congress over the stimulus bill that would purportedly start to address the present economic crisis. Buchanan argues that while Democrats are right to try to stop Republicans from writing a huge unrestricted corporate handout into the bill, they will have to agree to something quickly—and the sooner the better.

Can the Republicans Cancel the Elections, Even Though Trump Can’t?

UF Levin College of Law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan considers whether (and how) President Trump or his supporters in Congress could cancel the 2020 elections, citing public safety as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Buchanan points out that because states control the procedures for the election, Trump would need Republican governors of certain blue states to shut down their state’s elections—something Buchanan stops short of saying is likely or unlikely.

When Is Optimism Actually Pessimism? When Trump Is President

UF Levin College of Law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan continues his discussion considering the future of the rule of law in the United States. Buchanan argues that even assuming a “long arc of American political history,” knowing that eventually, another group of heroes might rise is comforting only in a vague sense.

Another Attempt to Find Optimism in American Politics

UF Levin College of Law professor Neil H. Buchanan continues his series of columns attempting to find optimism in what he describes as “post-constitutional life in America.” In this installment, Buchanan notes that President Trump’s reactions to COVID-19 are a reason for optimism because they reflect a fear that a pandemic (and market responses to a pandemic) could threaten his hold on the White House.

Searching for Even Slim Reeds of Optimism That This is Not the End of the Rule of Law in America

UF Levin College of Law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan offers two possible reasons for cautious optimism that the rule of law survives under President Trump: (1) Trump continues to lie, and (2) even the most potentially unreliable Democrats have not (yet?) decided to stop opposing him.

How Much Worse Will Trump Become, and How Quickly?

Neil H. Buchanan, law professor and economist at UF Levin College of Law, contemplates the world in which we are likely to live if, as Buchanan argues is inevitable, President Trump refuses to leave office even after losing the 2020 election. Focusing in this column on the effects on government employees and contractors, Buchanan predicts that our society will be almost unimaginably worse a year from today and thereafter.

Dead Letter Office: What’s Left of the Impeachment Power After Trump’s Acquittal

Dean Falvy, a lecturer at the University of Washington School of Law in Seattle, discusses what happens now, after Senate Republicans voted to acquit President Trump. Falvy predicts that (1) President Trump will be emboldened to commit further abuses of power, (2) future presidents will be less constrained by fear of impeachment, and (3) impeachment may become more routine as political practice and significantly less effective as a constitutional remedy.

What Else Might Senate Republicans Have Done, Given That They’re Too Scared to Do the Right Thing?

UF Levin College of Law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan considers whether there is anything Senate Republicans might have done, instead of outright acquitting President Trump, to maintain the role of Congress as a coequal branch with the Executive. Buchanan proposes that under the text of the impeachment clauses, those Republican senators could have voted for removal—the necessary result of finding wrongdoing—but permitted Trump to run again in the election later this year.

The Real Insidious Part of Dershowitz’s Impeachment Defense

Illinois law dean Vikram David Amar and Michigan Law dean emeritus Evan Caminker discuss Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz’s explanation of why he stands (virtually) alone in his views on impeachment—that all the scholars who disagree with him are biased partisans. Amar and Caminker explain why this claim is so insidious, with effects lasting well beyond the span of the current presidency.

The Law Will Not Save Us

Cornell law professor Joseph Margulies reminds us that the rule of law exists in the United States primarily to conceal politics; that is, one cannot rely on having “the law” on one’s side if politics are opposed. Margulies illustrates this point by replacing “the lawyers reviewed the law and decided” with “the high priests studied the entrails and decided”—a substitution that ultimately yields the same results.

The Intra-Party Fight Among the Democratic Candidates Is Necessary and Healthy

UF law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan explains why the Democratic presidential candidates attacking each other over policy differences and other issues rather than unifying to oppose President Trump in the general election. Buchanan argues that, perhaps illogically, the infighting is essential and a healthy part of the process.

Senate Secrecy: Can the Votes of Senators on President Trump’s Impeachment be Withheld from the Voting Public?

Illinois law dean Vikram David Amar and professor Jason Mazzone evaluate the suggestion made by some that the votes of senators on President Trump’s impeachment can and should be private. Amar and Mazzone argue that while the text of the Constitution alone does not foreclose secrecy, structural, prudential, and logistical considerations strongly disfavor a secret vote on the matter.

Is John Roberts a Closeted Never-Trumper? Reading Between the Lines of the Chief Justice’s Year-End Report

Cornell law professor Michael C. Dorf offers one interpretation of Chief Justice John Roberts’s annual year-end report on the federal judiciary—that the Chief Justice intends to serve as a modest counterbalance to President Trump. Dorf supports his interpretation with text and context of the year-end report but offers his cautious praise to the Chief Justice with a few important caveats as well.

Impeachment of the President Normally Requires a Crime

NYU law professor Samuel Estreicher and 3L Christopher S. Owens discuss the unique situation of the impeachment of a U.S. President for conduct not alleged to be a crime. Looking to both text and history, Estreicher and Owens argue that commission of a particular, defined crime should be necessary for presidential impeachment for the preservation of the legitimacy and original purpose of that political device, particularly in polarized times such as these.

What Does John Bolton Know, and When Will We Know It? Why the Former National Security Advisor May Hold Trump’s Fate in His Hands

Dean Falvy, a lecturer at the University of Washington School of Law in Seattle, explains why former National Security Advisor John Bolton may hold the key to what happens with the impeachment proceedings of President Trump. Falvy describes Bolton’s background and shows why he may play such a critical and unique role in what happens to the President.

Another Way That American Democracy Might End

Neil H. Buchanan, a University of Florida Levin College of Law professor and economist, argues that a 2020 win for President Donald Trump would likely to lead to the end of constitutional democracy. Buchanan points out that the demise would be due not only to what Trump would do if reelected, but also what the Democratic Party and the media would do to pretend that the victory resulted from legitimate processes.

Alarmism Is a Necessity and a Virtue in the Age of Trumpian Attacks on the Foundations of the Republic

University of Florida Levin College of Law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan argues that, notwithstanding some commentators’ claims to the contrary, President Trump poses an existential threat to democracy in the United States and removing him from office via impeachment would be less messy and divisive than defeating him at the ballot box in November 2020. Buchanan points out that there is no reason to believe that Trump will accept losing the 2020 election, and there is every reason to fear that the inevitable protests by the majority of Americans whose votes defeated Trump will be met with violence.

Meet our Columnists
Vikram David Amar
Vikram David Amar

Vikram David Amar is the Dean and Iwan Foundation Professor of Law at the University of Illinois... more

Neil H. Buchanan
Neil H. Buchanan

Neil H. Buchanan, an economist and legal scholar, holds the James J. Freeland Eminent Scholar... more

Sherry F. Colb
Sherry F. Colb

Sherry F. Colb is the C.S. Wong Professor of Law at Cornell University. Colb teaches courses in... more

John Dean
John Dean

John Dean served as Counsel to the President of the United States from July 1970 to April 1973.... more

Michael C. Dorf
Michael C. Dorf

Michael C. Dorf is the Robert S. Stevens Professor of Law at Cornell University Law School. He... more

Joanna L. Grossman
Joanna L. Grossman

Joanna L. Grossman is the Ellen K. Solender Endowed Chair in Women and Law at SMU Dedman School... more

Marci A. Hamilton
Marci A. Hamilton

MARCI A. HAMILTON is the Fels Institute of Government Professor of Practice, and Fox Family... more

Joseph Margulies
Joseph Margulies

Mr. Margulies is a Professor of Law and Government at Cornell University. He was Counsel of... more

Lesley Wexler
Lesley Wexler

Lesley Wexler is a Professor of Law at the University of Illinois College of Law. Immediately... more