From the abstract for Stacy Hawkins, Trump’s Dangerous Judicial Legacy, UCLA Law Review Discourse, Vol. 67, 2019:

Reviewing statistical data on the composition of the federal judiciary over the last forty plus years, this paper describes what appears to be President Trump’s deliberate effort to reverse a decades-long trend by his presidential predecessors to diversify the federal judiciary. It then imagines both the motivations for and consequences of this effort. The longstanding commitment to increasing judicial diversity that preceded President Trump reflects a tacit, and at times even explicit, acknowledgement by his presidential predecessors that the legitimacy of our justice system depends on a diverse judiciary. By contrast, Trump’s judicial appointments reveal an increasingly evident ambition to “whitewash” America that has emerged from his larger rhetorical commitment to “Make America Great Again.” Combining the statistical data on the rapidly shifting demography of the federal judiciary under President Trump with insights from the scholarly literature on theories of procedural justice and representative bureaucracy, which posit that the diversity of judges matters to citizens’ perceptions of justice as well as to judicial accountability to minority citizens’ interests, this paper suggests that President Trump’s “whitewashing” of the federal judiciary will have grave consequences for the legitimacy and effective functioning of our courts on behalf of an increasingly diverse citizenry.

From the abstract for Nathan Cortez, Information Mischief Under the Trump Administration, Chicago-Kent Law Review, Vol. 94, No. 2, 2019:

The Trump administration has used government information in more cynical ways than its predecessors. For example, it has removed certain information from the public domain, scrubbed certain terminology from government web sites, censored scientists, manipulated public data, and used “transparency” initiatives as a pretext for anti-regulatory policies, particularly environmental policy. This article attempts to tease out an emerging “information policy” for the Trump administration, explain how it departs from the information policies of predecessors, and evaluate the extent to which both legal and non-legal mechanisms might constrain executive discretion.

From the introduction to China’s Economic Rise: History, Trends, Challenges, and Implications for the United States (RL33534, updated June 25, 2019):

China’s growing global economic influence and the economic and trade policies it maintains have significant implications for the United States and hence are of major interest to Congress. While China is a large and growing market for U.S. firms, its incomplete transition to a free-market economy has resulted in economic policies deemed harmful to U.S. economic interests, such as industrial policies and theft of U.S. intellectual property. This report provides background on China’s economic rise; describes its current economic structure; identifies the challenges China faces to maintain economic growth; and discusses the challenges, opportunities, and implications of China’s economic rise for the United States.

Over the next two days, 20 Democrats will take the stage for the first debates of the 2020 presidential race. Here are three articles that profile the candidates in the context of the Democratic debates:

Nearly 100 internal Trump transition vetting documents were leaked to “Axios on HBO,” identifying a host of “red flags” about officials who went on to get Trump administration jobs and others who never had an administration materialize. Axios redacted personal details that weren’t newsworthy, information from spurious sources, and material the vetting team described as rumors about contenders’ personal lives, and contact and identification information. All the unredacted information is from public sources. Read the documents here.

From the abstract for Mayo Moran, The Problem of the Past: How Historic Wrongs became Legal Problems (2018):

Compensation for historic wrongs was once legally unthinkable. Now such claims are increasingly commonplace and count among law’s most difficult cases. This paper tells the story of how historic wrongs became legal problems and seeks to provide the foundations for a more robust understanding of redress. To date, literature on historic injustice has tended to focus on threshold questions or on the relatively novel terrain of truth commissions, acknowledgement and commemoration. The survivor’s quest for individual redress has, by contrast, garnered relatively little sustained attention even though such claims are among the most disruptive and challenging aspect of this ‘new’ problem of historic wrongs. This project aims to respond to this gap. It begins by seeking to better understand the problem, using three illustrative cases to help trace how historic wrongs came to be among law’s most vexing problems of responsibility. The UK decisions on the Mau Mau uprising highlight how claims that seek redress for historic wrongs often exhibit surprising force, capable of eroding the once-powerful procedural rules that used to protect the past from legal responsibility. Canada’s five billion dollar settlement of claims relating to the legacy of Indian residential school reminds us both of this force and of the challenges law faces when confronted by its own complicity in historic injustice. Finally the US reparations for slavery movement illuminates how, despite defeat in the courtroom, ‘reparative justice’ claims often possess a tenacious quality that makes them capable of moving powerful institutions. Tracing the role law has played in spurring the problem of the past helps to illuminate some of the key features of redress that have to date been all but ignored and provides the basis for developing more effective responses to historic wrongs.

The 2015 Paris Agreement set a global goal to reach net zero emissions in the second half of the century. An increasing number of governments are translating that into national strategy, setting out visions of a carbon-free future. Is it enough? Of course not. But it is becoming the benchmark for leadership on the world stage. See Climate Change News’ Which countries have a net zero carbon goal? for details (regularly updated).

From the blurb for Preet Bharara, Doing Justice: A Prosecutor’s Thoughts on Crime, Punishment, and the Rule of Law (Knopf, March 19, 2019):

Preet Bharara has spent much of his life examining our legal system, pushing to make it better, and prosecuting those looking to subvert it. Bharara believes in our system and knows it must be protected, but to do so, we must also acknowledge and allow for flaws in the system and in human nature.

The book is divided into four sections: Inquiry, Accusation, Judgment and Punishment. He shows why each step of this process is crucial to the legal system, but he also shows how we all need to think about each stage of the process to achieve truth and justice in our daily lives.

Bharara uses anecdotes and case histories from his legal career–the successes as well as the failures–to illustrate the realities of the legal system, and the consequences of taking action (and in some cases, not taking action, which can be just as essential when trying to achieve a just result).

Much of what Bharara discusses is inspiring–it gives us hope that rational and objective fact-based thinking, combined with compassion, can truly lead us on a path toward truth and justice. Some of what he writes about will be controversial and cause much discussion. Ultimately, it is a thought-provoking, entertaining book about the need to find the humanity in our legal system–and in our society.

From the blurb for John Nichols, Horsemen of the Trumpocalypse: A Field Guide to the Most Dangerous People in America (Hachette Books, 2018):

A line-up of the dirty dealers and defenders of the indefensible who are definitely not “making America great again”. Donald Trump has assembled a rogue’s gallery of alt-right hatemongers, crony capitalists, immigrant bashers, and climate-change deniers to run the American government. To survive the next four years, we the people need to know whose hands are on the levers of power. And we need to know how to challenge their abuses. John Nichols, veteran political correspondent at the Nation, has been covering many of these deplorables for decades. Sticking to the hard facts and unafraid to dig deep into the histories and ideologies of the people who make up Trump’s inner circle, Nichols delivers a clear-eyed and complete guide to this wrecking-crew administration.

In a public statement today [transcript here], Mueller reiterated DOJ policy that an indictment or criminal prosecution of a sitting President would unconstitutionally undermine the capacity of the executive branch to perform its constitutionally assigned functions so indicting President Trump for obstruction of justice was “not an option.” See the DOJ OLC’s memo titled A Sitting President’s Amenability to Indictment and Criminal Prosecution (updated Dec. 10, 2018).

Excerpt from the introduction to Legislative Purpose and Adviser Immunity in Congressional Investigations (LSB10301, May 24, 2019):

The Trump Administration has recently questioned the legal validity of numerous investigative demands made by House committees. These objections have been based on various grounds, but two specific arguments will be addressed in this Sidebar:

  1. The President and other Administration officials have contended that certain committee demands lack a valid “legislative purpose” and therefore do not fall within Congress’s investigative authority.
  2. The President has made a more generalized claim that his advisers cannot be made to testify before Congress, even in the face of a committee subpoena. This position, based upon the executive branch’s longstanding conception of immunity for presidential advisers from compelled congressional testimony regarding their official duties.

From the introduction to An Overview of State and Federal Authority to Impose Vaccination Requirements (LSB 10300, May 22, 2019):

“In addition to measles, for about every 5 years since 2006, outbreaks of other vaccine – preventable diseases, such as mumps, have also been reported in the United States. In light of these outbreaks and their association with unvaccinated individuals, this Sidebar provides an overview of the relevant state and federal authority to require vaccination for U.S. residents.”

Informed Comment reports that internal ExxonMobil documents show that the company’s scientists predicted in 1982 that by 2020, parts per million of carbon dioxide in earth’s atmosphere would reach 410-420 ppm. For the first time this spring ppm of CO2 exceeded 415.

The memo says in part,

“Considerable uncertainty also surrounds the possible impact on society of such a warming trend, should it occur. At the low end of the predicted temperature range there could be some impact on agricultural growth and rainfall patterns which could be beneficial in some regions and detrimental in others.

“At the high end, some scientists suggest there could be considerable adverse impact including the flooding of some coastal land masses as a result of a rise in sea level due to melting of the Antarctic ice sheet.”

Read the CO2 “Greenhouse” Effect report here.

From the introduction to The National Popular Vote (NPV) Initiative: Direct Election of the President by Interstate Compact (R43823, updated May 9, 2019):

“The National Popular Vote (NPV) initiative proposes an agreement among the states, an interstate compact that would effectively achieve direct popular election of the President and Vice President without a constitutional amendment. It relies on the Constitution’s grant of authority to the states in Article II, Section 1 to appoint presidential electors “in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct …. Any state that joins the NPV compact pledges that if the compact comes into effect, its legislature will award all the state’s electoral votes to the presidential ticket that wins the most popular votes nationwide, regardless of who wins in that particular state. The compact would, however, come into effect only if its success has been assured; that is, only if states controlling a majority of electoral votes (270 or more) join the compact.”

From the introduction to “Sanctuary” Jurisdictions: Federal, State, and Local Policies and Related Litigation (R44795, updated May 3, 2019):

One legal question relevant to sanctuary policies is the extent to which states, as sovereign entities, may decline to assist in federal immigration enforcement, and the degree to which the federal government can stop state measures that undermine federal objectives.