Analysis and Commentary on Politics
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.

Dear Mayor “Extremely Vague” and Senator “Pipe Dream”: Put Up or Shut Up

University of Florida Levin College of Law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan calls upon Democratic presidential candidates Mayor Pete Buttigieg and Senator Amy Klobuchar to step up and say what they are for, rather than merely what they are against. While Buchanan acknowledges that he does not fully agree with Warren’s Medicare-for-All proposal, but he praises her for being bold enough to put forth a plan, unlike many of her competitors.

Go Big, Democrats: Attempts to Rig Elections Are Not the Only Impeachable Offenses

University of Florida Levin College of Law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan argues that Democrats should draft broad articles of impeachment. As Buchanan points out, if the Democrats do not lay out the full case against Trump, everything that is left out will have been validated and will become a precedent for future misdeeds by this or any other President.

Pete Buttigieg and his Critics Are Both Wrong About the Supreme Court

Cornell law professor Michael C. Dorf explains why Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg and his critics are both wrong about the U.S. Supreme Court having become especially political. Dorf points out that since the Court’s 1803 decision in Marbury v. Madison the Court has been highly political, and the true problem lies with the unprecedented polarization of the political parties—not with the Court or the appointments process.

The Battle of Kiev: How Bill Taylor’s Testimony Blew a Hole in Trump’s ‘No Quid Pro Quo’ Defense

Dean Falvy, a lecturer at the University of Washington School of Law in Seattle, discusses the private testimony of U.S. diplomat Bill Taylor regarding President Trump’s interactions with Ukraine. Falvy argues that by meticulously tracking his digital and verbal conservations with other high-level players, Taylor is forcing the implicated officials to engage at a similar level of detail and precluding them from asserting blanket “I do not recall” defenses.

Warren Is Not Being ‘Evasive’ About Taxes and Health Care, But Buttigieg Is

University of Florida Levin College of Law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan criticizes Democratic pundits and presidential candidates for trying to force Senator Elizabeth Warren to say explicitly whether she intends to raise taxes to pay for her healthcare-for-all plan. Buchanan points out that their insistence on this point essentially does Republicans’ work for them, rather than setting the table for an honest and clear discussion about the financial costs (by any name) of reform.

U.K. Supreme Court Prorogation Judgment Exemplifies Representation-Reinforcing Judicial Review

Cornell law professor Michael C. Dorf comments on the recent unanimous decision by the U.K. Supreme Court ruling that Prime Minister Boris Johnson acted unlawfully in asking the Queen to prorogue Parliament. Dorf explains how that ruling highlights the error of the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Rucho v. Common Cause, in which the Court declined to intervene in a political gerrymandering case, citing the so-called political question doctrine.

Could Biden’s Promise to Return to ‘Normal’ End Up Being Even Worse for the Country?

University of Florida Levin College of Law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan argues that Biden’s campaign promise of a return to “normal” if he is elected President could result in the country’s situation becoming even worse than it currently is. Buchanan suggests that if Biden wins the nomination and the presidency and he is not seen as a serious fighter, he will lose a generation of voters forever.

North Carolina Three-Judge Panel Smartly Uses the Room the U.S. Supreme Court in Rucho v. Common Cause Left for State Courts to Enforce State Constitutions

Illinois law dean and professor Vikram David Amar comments on a recent decision by a panel of state-court judges in North Carolina striking down partisan gerrymandering schemes as violating that state’s constitution. Amar had argued after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Rucho v. Common Cause that state courts would have to address partisan gerrymandering on “independent and adequate state-law grounds” (rather than on federal constitutional grounds), which is exactly what the North Carolina court did.

Elections, the Economy, and Trump: Part Two, the False Choice Between Our Economy and Our Soul

In this second of a two-part series of columns, University of Florida Levin College of Law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan argues that Americans do not have to—and should not—support Trump simply because he claims (erroneously) to have revitalized the economy. Buchanan argues that for a voter to cast a vote purely on account of a perceived improved economy would require her to devalue every other issue—effectively selling the country’s soul.

Out Trumping Trump: Democrats Join the Attack on Courts but the United States Won’t Be Better for It

Guest columnist Austin Sarat—Associate Provost, Associate Dean of the Faculty and William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science at Amherst College—expresses concern that Democrats are joining President Trump in undermining the public’s trust in the judiciary. Sarat specifically discusses an amicus brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court by five Democratic senators in which the senators criticize the bias and partisanship of the Court’s conservative justices.

Do Not Overestimate Trump: He Is Weak and Beatable

University of Florida Levin College of Law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan cautions liberals, particularly the Democratic presidential candidates, not to treat Donald Trump as unbeatable—as though he were some sort of undefeatable science-fiction villain. Buchanan argues that while liberals should not make the same mistake they made in 2016 of being overconfident, they should also not overstate his ability to win, lest they make that perspective a self-fulfilling prophecy.

President Yertle’s Wall

Cornell Law 3L Jareb A. Gleckel and professor Sherry F. Colb argue that President Trump’s overarching goal in his presidency is not to benefit the country but to create a legacy for himself, and a wall along the U.S.–Mexico border would be the pinnacle of such a legacy. Gleckel and Colb draw a comparison to Dr. Seuss’s character Yertle the Turtle, who had similar lofty ambitions, and call upon Americans to expose the President’s true motives and thus undercut his malign pursuits.

Constitutional Democracy, Trust, and Self-Restraint: The Destructive Consequences of Republicans’ Opportunism

University of Florida Levin College of Law professor Neil H. Buchanan laments the current precarious situation of our constitutional democracy. He argues that a constitutional democracy becomes unsustainable and ultimately dies when a party abuses and changes the system to maintain its power, which he observes Republicans are doing now.

Elected Dictators? The Limits of What Government Officials Can Do With Their Power

University of Florida Levin College of Law professor Neil H. Buchanan considers whether America, having elected Donald Trump, must consequently accept everything he does as “democracy at work.” Buchanan argues that constitutional processes exist not only to protect democracy not only in word but also in spirit, and that extreme consequences of legal action can still threaten the future of democracy.

The Trouble With Trump’s Tariff Threats—And With a Critique of Them

Cornell law professor Michael C. Dorf explains why President Trump’s threat to escalate tariffs on all Mexican goods if Mexico had not stopped the flow of Central American Migrants erroneously presumes a win-lose situation where none exists. Dorf also explains the fallacy of the criticism that immigration and trade ought to be always kept separate in negotiations.

Woulda Coulda Shoulda: Were, And Are, Mueller’s Hands Really Tied From Saying Whether President Trump Committed Indictable Crimes?

Michigan law professor Evan Caminker considers whether Special Counsel Robert Mueller could have—and whether he can yet—opine on whether President Trump committed a federal crime in obstructing justice. Caminker argues that if Mueller is subpoenaed to testify before Congress, he should say more than he did in his report.

New York Lawmakers Take Aim at Trump

Cornell law professor Michael C. Dorf considers whether two New York bills—one that requires state and local officials to provide congressional committees with the President’s state and local tax records upon request, and the other that would permit the state to prosecute an individual for conduct that was presidentially pardoned—set a dangerous precedent for state interference with federal action. Dorf argues that these bills provide a permissible form of diagonal checks and balances between the branches of the state and federal government and do not raise constitutional concerns.

Exactly What Are the Rules Concerning Supreme (or Other Federal) Court Review of Impeachment Proceedings?

Illinois law dean and professor Vikram David Amar comments on President Trump’s recent tweet suggesting that if the Democrats were to try to impeach him, he would ask the Supreme Court to block the impeachment. Amar argues that while critics of that assertion are correct, the legal matter is more complicated than might appear at first blush.

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 Robert A. Fox Leadership Program 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