In this two-part series of columns, UF Levin College of Law professor Neil H. Buchanan discusses some new reasons for guarded optimism that Americans are beginning to recognize—and thus might be able to mitigate—the danger Donald Trump represents to American democracy. In this first part, Buchanan grounds his guarded optimism in Joe Biden’s expressly voicing concern that Trump will not leave the White House if he loses the election.
Cornell law professor Michael C. Dorf discusses a claim by Missouri Senator Josh Hawley that the purpose of originalism and textualism is to provide a mechanism for obtaining results that religious conservatives favor on ideological grounds. In light of two recent Supreme Court decisions that disappointed conservatives, Dorf considers how conservatives might respond to these decisions and expresses hope that they might rethink their support for Trump. Dorf observes that while Supreme Court rulings do sometimes follow election returns, the reverse is also sometimes true, and we can’t yet know which direction this year will flow.
Touro law professors Jeffrey B. Morris and Rodger D. Citron conduct a profile of John J. Gleeson, the lawyer and former judge who has been appointed as a “friend of the court” to advise the federal district court on a matter where the U.S. Department of Justice is seeking dismissal of the case against former national security advisor Michael Flynn. Morris and Citron describe Gleeson’s background both on and off the bench and predict that, if given the opportunity to fulfill his role, Gleeson will certainly be fair and proper in determining the proper way to deal with Michael Flynn’s case.
UF Levin College of Law professor Neil H. Buchanan reiterates his argument that Donald Trump will refuse to leave the White House even if he loses the 2020 election and considers why journalists are only just now beginning to recognize that as a possibility. Buchanan laments the possibility that there is nothing to be done about this existential threat to America’s constitutional democracy.
In this second of a two-part series of columns, UF Levin College of Law professor Neil H. Buchanan explains why Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is incorrect in claiming that the reason Democratic-led states are in trouble is that they are providing excessively generous pensions to retirees who worked for state and local governments. Buchanan then examines a workaround, first described by Professor Darien Shanske of the University of California at Davis, that would allow the Federal Reserve to give assistance to states and cities without interference from Republicans in the Senate or the White House.
Austin Sarat— Associate Provost, Associate Dean of the Faculty, and William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science at Amherst College—comments on the decision by the conservative Wisconsin Supreme Court halting the state’s stay at home order. Sarat points out that the opinion recapitulates, without acknowledgment, debates in analytic jurisprudence about the distinction between orders and rules, and he argues that while the decision may be good for the Trump campaign, it puts at risk the lives and well-being of Wisconsin’s citizens.
In this first of a series of columns about federal relief to state and local governments, UF Levin College of Law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan provides the economic background to explain how unprecedented these times are and argues that supporting cities and states is essential to surviving this crisis.
Cornell law professor Michael C. Dorf comments on last week’s decision by the U.S. Supreme Court reversing the convictions of two New Jersey officials for their role in the so-called “Bridgegate” scandal of 2013. Although the Court made clear that the underlying conduct was dangerous and wrong, its holding reversing the convictions may effectively permit corrupt bullies to continue to exercise political power, due in part to inadequate responses from other political actors.
Austin Sarat—Associate Provost, Associate Dean of the Faculty, and William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science at Amherst College—comments on the recent news that the Justice Department will seek dismissal of charges against Michael Flynn. Sarat suggests that because the decision does not seem to advance the fair administration of justice in this case, the court should take the unusual step of refusing to grant the prosecutor’s motion to dismiss.
Cornell Law professor Sherry F. Colb comments on recent sexual assault allegations against presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Colb argues that if the only choices for President are Donald Trump and Joe Biden, the sexual assault allegation against the latter will take second fiddle to the need to defeat the former and defends this perspective as not manifesting hypocrisy or indifference to sexual assault or other intimate violence.
Austin Sarat—Associate Provost, Associate Dean of the Faculty and William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Jurisprudence and Political Science at Amherst College—comments on Harvard Law Professor Adrian Vermeule’s essay “Beyond Originalism,” which Sarat argues brings conservative authoritarianism out of the shadows. Sarat describes Vermeule as a modern-day Machiavelli, offering advice to the governing class and laying out a theory of governance Vermeule calls “common-good constitutionalism” but which in reality elevates the “common good” above individual goods in a manner antithetical to freedom, pluralism, and democracy.
Cornell law professor Joseph Margulies calls upon President Trump to condemn the rise of anti-Asian calumny and violence and contrasts Trump’s actions today with those of President George W. Bush after the September 11 attacks. Margulies points out that immediately after 9/11, President Bush defined national identity in the language of equality and tolerance, stressing that Muslims and Arab-Americans were not the enemy.
Marci A. Hamilton, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, criticizes the Trump administration’s failure to adequately handle the national coordination of efforts to get the COVID-19 crisis under control. Hamilton points out that the Framers of the Constitution anticipated that the country would face emergencies and intentionally consolidated power in a single President to make decisions to unify and protect the nation.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
UF Levin College of Law professor and economist Neil H. Buchanan reflects, based on current trends, on what the legal system in the United States will look in a few years. Specifically, Buchanan considers whether the country will become a “banana republic” or whether instead we will see a system of “legalistic lawlessness.”