National News Roundup: Week 20 (June 4–10)

The news this week is a wild roller coaster ride. We actually saw a lot of positive developments! But it can be hard to really feel that in the middle of the daily grind, and we saw some pretty busted stuff as well. Stay with us and stay fighting, folks; I promise it’s worth it.

Standard standing reminders apply: I am no journalist, though I play one in your inbox or browser, so I’m only summarizing the news within my area of expertise. This week also contains multiple headlines outside my area as a legal generalist — still a lawyer, not a spy! — but all offroad adventures are marked with an asterisk. Okay, I think that’s about it for the disclaimers. Onward to the news!

Constitutional Crisis Corners:

There was movement on two crises this week, but most of it was positive. Judicial Enforcement was definitely successfully tagged into the ring, and brought their best friend Senate Hearings while they were at it.

Still standing despite a repeated pummeling, at least for now: The Russia Collusion Investigation! Boy did a lot happen on this one this week.

In addition to all your by-now-ordinary Russia weirdness, we also saw some breaking excellent news on The Emolument Clause! More specifically…

  • Maryland and DC are Suing Trump. This is new as of today and I’m really excited about it; the Attorneys General for both Maryland and the District of Columbia are suing Trump for violating the Emoluments Clauses of the Constitution. Though this is not the first suit to be brought against him on this issue, it’s the first time a public entity has sued. It seems likely that this suit will not run into the standing issues that have plagued the private case, so we’ll likely see a decision on the merits — but this is all uncharted territory, so who only knows what we’ll see from here.

Your “Normal” Weird:

  • “I Am (Foolishly) Calling it a TRAVEL BAN!”: My coworkers and I discussed recently that Trump must be the worst client in the world to represent, because he keeps undermining his own cases. The latest this week was his insistence on calling his executive order a travel ban, referring to the current iteration as “watered down [and] politically correct.” Needless to say, if you’re taking the position in court that your executive order is not a travel ban, it’s not super wise to announce the exact opposite with lots of exclamation points in a public Twitter tirade. And this did in fact come back to bite him within the week — more on that below.
  • Weird Cardboard Ceremonies. This past week, Trump made sure he had a photo op moment signing… uh, nothing, basically. After Trump announced he wanted to privatize the air traffic control system (which strikes me as a bad idea, but this administration has so many of those that this just makes it Tuesday), he sat down to Sign an Important Order About This Topic. But since he doesn’t actually have the power to do that, he just signed “a decision memo and letter transmitting legislative principles to Congress.” In other words: “Hey, Congress, I want you to do this thing!” (Spoiler: Congress already decided not to do this thing last year.) Then, just to up the executive weirdness ante, Trump held his first full cabinet meeting today. I guess we can now expect all cabinet meetings to include a ceremonial Taking Turns Praising The President as well as the Presidential Embarrassingly-Apparent Falsehood Call to Order.
  • “They’re Not Even People.” Eric Trump had the distinction this week yet again of saying the quiet part out loud, this time in his announcement to Fox News that Democrats “aren’t even people” to him. Which, to be fair, we knew already. But you’re not supposed to say it on live television. (The DNC did not bother to respond directly, which was probably wise.)

The Bad:

The Good:

  • Clean Energy Shuffle. Continuing the efforts that began last week, both Hawaii and California passed legislation in the past week to adhere to the Paris Accord terms. California has agreed to expand cooperation with China to create low-carbon urban development and zero-emission vehicles. Hawaii, in contrast, established a task force to improve soil health and created provisions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions generally. These efforts are in tandem with the United States Climate Alliance, though both states are also members.
  • British Special Election Backfires. Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May called a special general election in an effort to push her party’s agenda, which backfired spectacularly when she lost the conservative majority in Parliament instead. The considerably-more-liberal Labour Party won significant gains in Parliament, resulting in a hung Parliament (and muddied waters for upcoming Brexit negotations and the new British order). There’s still likely to be a conservative majority coalition, with the Tories working with the ultra-conservative Democratic Unionist Party, but that hasn’t been confirmed yet, and there might be yet another election if it can’t be pulled together. Either way, Theresa May had to apologize to her base for squandering their majority. That said, since she was making statements about how she planned to ignore human rights just prior to losing the majority, it’s likely the election was a powerful referendum on British views of ultraconservative policies. This is an opportunity for Britain to reorganize in a more moderate fashion before Brexit negotiations begin, which is likely to be a long-term positive, even though the value of the British pound has dropped and it makes the immediate future of Brexit uncertain.
  • 9th Circuit Expands Stay on Travel Ban.: Remember how I mentioned above that Trump got himself in trouble with his travel ban tweets already? That would be because the Ninth Circuit, which heard arguments recently about his new travel ban and the stay put in place by a district court judge, went ahead and considered them when issuing an order to leave the stay in place. (Though that said, the Ninth Circuit decision primarily rests on a finding that the administration failed to show sufficient national interest to justify the ban, not a finding of bad faith.) The Ninth Circuit decision echoes and expands the previous decision made by the Fourth Circuit, extending the stay to the provisions about refugee admissions as well as travel more generally.

And that’s the news that’s fit to print! And some that isn’t, but you heard it here anyway.

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