Posts Tagged ‘constitutional law’

Could the White House be “tyrant-proofed”?

How would one go about “tyrant-proofing” the U.S. presidency, after years in which many were happy to cheer the expansion of White House power so long as the office was held by someone *they* liked? Key point in Ben Wittes’s 3-part series at Lawfare: the hardest to tyrant-proof are not the extraordinary and covert national security powers held by the chief executive, but the everyday powers over the Department of Justice and regulatory agencies [parts one, two, three].

More: Neither Donald Trump nor his progressive opponents have shown themselves loyal to the principle of the rule of law [John McGinnis, Liberty and Law] Nature of the Presidency lends itself to authoritarianism and despite retrenchment under Coolidge and Ike, that’s been the trend for a century or more [Arnold Kling] And quoting William & Mary lawprof Neal Devins: “A President Trump could say, ‘I’m going to use the Obama playbook’ and go pretty far.” [Marc Fisher, Washington Post] And: Tyler Cowen on FDR, McCarthy, the politics of the 1930s-50s, and “our authoritarians” versus “their authoritarians.”

Constitutional law roundup

  • Ilya Shapiro on round II of Fisher v. University of Texas, the racial preferences case [Pope Center]
  • “Supreme Court Endorses Tribal Courts; Bad News For Corporate Defendants?” [Daniel Fisher on Sixth Amendment case U.S. v. Bryant]
  • “Is The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Unconstitutional?” [Susan Dudley]
  • “Dueling perspectives on Lochner v. United States” [Andrew Hamm, SCOTUSBlog on Paul Kens vs. Randy Barnett debate, earlier]
  • First Amendment and commercial speech: “Crazy Law Allows ‘Discounts’ for Cash but Not ‘Surcharges’ for Credit” [Ilya Shapiro on Expressions Hair Design case]
  • Who ‘ya gonna call if you need a Third Amendment lawyer? [humor]

Supreme Court and constitutional law roundup

“Administrative Law Judges Are Unconstitutional”

Administrative law judges are executive-branch as distinct from judicial officers, yet the President has no power to remove them; at the Securities and Exchange Commission and many other federal agencies, they are themselves employed by the agency on whose enforcement cases they must render quasi-judicial rulings. In recent years federal judges have expressed unease about whether assigning ALJs this particular combination of adjudicatory powers and institutional affiliations is entirely consistent with the U.S. Constitution, and now a Cato Institute amicus brief, in the D.C. Circuit case of Timbervest LLC v. Securities and Exchange Commission, urges courts to take the next logical step and rule that it is not. [Ilya Shapiro and Thaya Brook Knight; earlier here, here, here here, etc.]

Randy Barnett, “Our Republican Constitution”

Georgetown law professor Randy Barnett came to Cato April 21 for a book forum to discuss his new book Our Republican Constitution: Securing the Liberty and Sovereignty of We the People (reviews). Roger Pilon introduced and there were comments from University of Maryland law professor Robert Percival. Description in part:

The Constitution begins with the words “We the People.” But from our earliest days there have been two competing notions of “the People,” leading to two very different constitutional visions. Those who view “We the People” collectively think popular sovereignty resides in the people as a group, which leads them to favor a democratic constitution that allows the will of the people to be expressed by majority rule. In contrast, those who think popular sovereignty resides in the people as individuals contend that a republican constitution is needed to secure the preexisting inalienable rights of “We the People,” each and every one, against abuses by the majority. In his latest book, with a foreword by George Will, Randy Barnett explains why “We the People” would greatly benefit from the renewal of our republican Constitution, and how this can be accomplished in the courts and the political arena.

During the Q & A period, I ask a question about amending the U.S. constitution. More: Nick Gillespie interviews Barnett for Reason TV.