Professor Tarlock on the EPA

By Professor Dan Tarlock

During the 2016 presidential campaign, candidate Donald Trump promised both to curb and to eliminate the EPA. A Florida congressman is planning to introduce legislation to abolish the agency by 2018. Going nuclear against the EPA will not be easy and the counterattacks will be fierce.

The EPA was created in 1970 by President Richard Nixon by Executive Order. It gathered into a new agency the scattered, weak environmental laws delegated to the Departments of Agriculture, then Health, Education and Welfare and Interior. Most foundational environmental laws enacted between 1970-1980 were assigned to the EPA for implementation and enforcement.

The President’s power to abolish agencies falls under government reorganization acts that trace back to the New Deal. The last one was enacted in 1977, before the Supreme Court invalidated legislative vetoes, so the current thinking is that the President must ask Congress for authority to abolish an agency. Even assuming that the current Congress grants the authority, then the fun starts. The air, hazardous waste and water pollution laws that EPA implements and enforces cannot be abolished by the Executive; the Constitution clearly grants that authority exclusively to Congress.

Does the Republican controlled Congress really want to create that level of chaos? Stay tuned.

Professor Batlan on Religious Discrimination and Jewish Immigrants – Post 1

By Professor Felice Batlan

Religious Discrimination and Jewish Refugees

Writing as a legal historian, I want to say that President Trump’s Executive Order of January 27th regarding immigration and refugees was entirely unprecedented but it was not. What I can say is that looking back at immigration laws and policies, like those in the Executive Order, we can see how they were entirely misguided and driven by racist stereotypes.  I briefly want to point to two such events involving Jewish refugees and immigrants.

In 1892 poor Eastern European Jewish refugees attempting to enter the United States spent months in U.S. quarantine under the mistaken belief that they were carriers of typhoid and later cholera. Such hysteria was driven by the wide-spread stereotype that such Jews were dirty, dangerous, and that they polluted the Christian body of the nation. Protecting the nation’s security was thus mapped on to the Jewish body. At the time, no one brought a habeas petition on behalf of those detained. Rather Jewish charities and others cooperated with officials hoping that the ban would soon be lifted.

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Before the Gorsuch Hearings: Originalism and Textualism Hide Ideological Judgments Behind Claims of Objectivity

By Professor Carolyn Shapiro

Now that President Trump has nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit to the Supreme Court, we will be hearing a lot about the proper role of a Supreme Court justice. In introducing Judge Gorsuch, for example, Trump said that he had sought a nominee who would “interpret [the Constitution and laws] as written.” Praising Trump’s choice, Sean Hannity noted that Trump was fulfilling his promise to appoint someone who would “strictly adhere to the original meaning of the words of the Constitution” and claimed that Gorsuch is not someone who will “legislate from the bench.” Other conservatives have hailed him as a “textualist” and one who “espouses judicial restraint.”

All of these statements are wrong. They are wrong not necessarily because they misdescribe Gorsuch’s jurisprudence, but because they misdescribe the job. The job of the judge — and especially the job of a Supreme Court justice — is much more complex and nuanced than catchphrases like “applying the law as written” suggest.

The statements are also code. They are code for a particular type of judge – and make no mistake, it is a judge who conservatives believe will produce results that, by and large, they like. This is not to say that a judge has to do something illegitimate to reach those results. Rather, it is to say that such a judge is – like all judges addressing hard and indeterminate questions of law – making judgments, considering facts, weighing competing principles and taking account of precedent, history, and societal norms and expectations.

Continue reading “Before the Gorsuch Hearings: Originalism and Textualism Hide Ideological Judgments Behind Claims of Objectivity”

Professor Batlan at O’Hare Airport Protest over Immigration Ban

Professor Felice Batlan comments on protests taking place at O’Hare International Airport on Monday, January 30, 2017, over President Trump’s executive order closing U.S. borders to refugees, immigrants and others from seven predominantly Muslim countries. Watch the video.

Dean Krent on President Trump’s Executive Order on Immigration

By Dean Harold J. Krent

AS A SCHOLAR OF PRESIDENTIAL POWERS, I am appalled at the lawlessness of Friday’s executive order on refugees. The Order flouts congressional authority, undermines settled rights of visa holders, and impinges on the Freedom of Religion. The President’s power in immigration matters is broad, but not limitless.

AS AN EDUCATOR, I am saddened by the Order’s categorical exclusion of individuals who have brought insights, vitality, and intelligence to this campus and so many others. We have learned from students from Syria, Sudan, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen, and hope to continue to do so in the future. We are better for it.

AS A CITIZEN AND SON OF A REFUGEE, I am aghast at the repudiation of our country’s cherished past as a country of immigrants. Wealthier countries have the moral obligation to open their doors to those fleeing the carnage of the current fighting in Syria, Iraq, Somalia and Yemen. Refugees from those countries have committed no terrorist acts here, and there is no reason to believe that our current screening will be less able to filter out individuals posing a threat from those countries as opposed to others. All people are worthy of security and protection without regard to race, religion or country of origin.

I encourage interested faculty, staff, and students to join in the representation of those turned away at our nation’s doorstep. In the coming days, we will be disseminating information and holding workshops as to how you can help.

Dean Krent emailed the message above to Chicago-Kent students, faculty, and staff on January 30, 2017, under the subject line “President Trump on Immigration.”