See you in court?
February 15, 2019

President Trump has signaled he will announce an emergency declaration at 10 a.m. on Friday in an attempt to take money from other federally appropriated projects and use it to build his border wall. It's a big gamble on Trump's part. "The Justice Department has warned the White House a national emergency declaration is nearly certain to be blocked by the courts on, at least, a temporary basis," ABC News reports. And, Politico adds, "aides privately predicted Trump will lose a vote on the Senate floor once the Democratic House passes a resolution of disapproval to block the move."

Once the House Democratic majority passes a joint resolution of termination to end Trump's declared emergency, the 1976 National Emergencies Act requires the GOP-controlled Senate to vote on the resolution within 18 days, The New York Times explains. Senate Democrats "would need only a handful of Republicans to join them to pass the resolution," and it's likely they'll get that. But thanks to a 1983 Supreme Court ruling, Trump can veto the resolution, and it's unlikely Democrats would have enough votes to override that veto.

Then there are the courts. It is unclear if House Democrats have authority to sue Trump over his sidestepping the Constitution's grant of spending authority to Congress, but they might thanks to a lawsuit House Republicans pursued against President Barack Obama. Outside groups, states, and local governments have also prepared legal challenges. Legal experts say border landowners whose property Trump would seize have the strongest chance of successfully suing Trump. "Their likely remedy, however, isn't to stop the project, but to boost the payout they get from the government," The Wall Street Journal reports.

A senior White House official tells ABC News "the administration is confident it could ultimately win the case on appeal." But the one thing everyone seems to agree on is that Trump's wall-building will be tied up for some extended period of time, and the courts will likely have the final say. Peter Weber

December 2, 2018

Israeli police and the Israel Securities Authorities on Sunday called for an indictment of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as well as his wife, Sara, on charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust.

There is sufficient evidence to prosecute the couple, officials say, for trading regulatory favoritism to the Bezeq telecom company in exchange for favorable media coverage. The decision about whether to bring charges will be made by Israel's attorney general.

Netanyahu denies all accusations, and some suspect he may call a snap election in an effort to demonstrate public support and ward off legal trouble. Police already recommended indicting the prime minister in two other corruption probes earlier this year, and his coalition in the Israeli parliament narrowly holds its majority by a single seat. Bonnie Kristian

August 28, 2018

A Pennsylvania grand jury investigation identified more than 300 Catholic priests accused of sexual abuses, and their names were released earlier this month. The report has left the Catholic laity reeling, but it raises an even more troubling point: What about the other 49 states?

State attorneys general are facing the same question, but so far, only a few have taken action.

Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley (R) is working with the Archdiocese of St. Louis and the diocese of Kansas City, both of which volunteered to give his office access to their records. He has asked for similar transparency from other Catholic dioceses in his jurisdiction. "If they don't [allow scrutiny]," Hawley told The Hill, "we will certainly let the public know that too."

In Illinois, Attorney General Lisa Madigan (D) is scheduled to meet with the Chicago Archdiocese, as well as dioceses in Joliet and Rockford. Attorneys general in New York, Florida, and Kentucky have also initiated inquiries, though in the former two states they will have to work through district attorneys' offices.

In many states, however, attorneys general do not have the legal authority to launch this sort of investigation. "Some [attorneys general] have direct power to issue subpoenas in criminal manners," explained political scientist Paul Nolette of Marquette University. "Others have to rely on a grand jury that has to be called by them or called by local prosecutors. And some don't have any power at all," limiting their options no matter how much they want to catch predators in the clerical hierarchy. Bonnie Kristian

March 12, 2018

Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger plans to sue oil companies for murder, he said on a Politico podcast episode published Monday.

Schwarzenegger likened oil companies to tobacco companies continuing to sell cigarettes after becoming aware of their deleterious effects on users' health. "The oil companies knew from 1959 on — they did their own study that there would be global warming happening because of fossil fuels, and on top of it that it would be risky for people's lives, that it would kill," he said. "If you walk into a room and you know you're going to kill someone, it's first-degree murder; I think it's the same thing with the oil companies."

The goal of the suit is to mandate health warning labels analogous to those on cigarette boxes. To "me it's absolutely irresponsible to know that your product is killing people and not have a warning label on it, like tobacco," Schwarzenegger said. "Every gas station on it, every car should have a warning label on it; every product that has fossil fuels should have a warning label on it."

Schwarzenegger seems to be referring to the Tobacco Master Settlement Agreement, which was settled in 1998, following four decades of health-related litigation against the the tobacco industry. The deal required large tobacco companies to make a number of changes to their business practices and to pay 46 states for the costs of treating tobacco-related illness in perpetuity. Bonnie Kristian

November 27, 2017

Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci is threatening a libel lawsuit against the Tufts University school newspaper, The Tufts Daily, as well as a graduate student, Camilo Caballero, who penned two op-eds the paper printed earlier this month.

The articles describe Scaramucci, a Tufts alumnus, as "irresponsible, inconsistent, an unethical opportunist" who exudes "the highest degree of disreputability" and "cares about gaining attention and nothing more." The op-eds were occasioned by Scaramucci's seat on an advisory board at the university's Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, a role Caballero argued Scaramucci should not retain.

"You may have a difference of opinion from me politically which I respect," Scaramucci wrote to Caballero, "but you can't make spurious claims about my reputation and integrity." His lawyers sent a letter to The Tufts Daily demanding a retraction and apology, and Scaramucci is busily defending his position on Twitter.

In response, Tufts postponed an event featuring Scaramucci that was scheduled for Monday, and the student paper posted the attorneys' letter without comment. Legal experts say it is unlikely Scaramucci would be able to successfully sue because the articles were opinion pieces rather than news reports. Bonnie Kristian

November 26, 2017

Come Monday, there will be two people starting the same job as acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB), one of them chosen by the agency's outgoing head (per the guidelines in the law that created the CFPB) and one picked by President Trump (per more general law on executive appointments). Both sides are apparently prepping for a legal fight — the Justice Department issued a memo justifying the administration's position Saturday evening — and lawyers told Reuters the dispute will likely go to court.

Trump defended his position on Twitter Saturday:

Trump did not explain why he would want to bring such a disastrous agency back to life. The Wall Street Journal article he appeared to have in mind describes the CFPB as unaccountable, partisan, and overreaching its legal purview from the very start of its six-year history. Bonnie Kristian

November 13, 2017

Roy Moore, the Republican Senate nominee for Alabama, told the audience at a Christian Citizen Task Force forum in Huntsville on Sunday he plans on suing The Washington Post over its report that when Moore was in his early 30s, he pursued relationships with teenage girls and made unwanted sexual advances toward a 14-year-old.

The Post interviewed more than 30 people for the report, all of whom said they knew Moore between 1977 and 1982, when he was a deputy district attorney. During the forum, Moore said the Post printed false allegations "for which they will be sued," NBC News reports. Moore did not say when he plans on filing his suit. When The New York Times published allegations that President Trump sexually assaulted a woman in the early 1980s and another woman in 2005, Trump threatened to sue the paper; the Times stood by its reporting, and Trump never filed suit. Catherine Garcia

September 25, 2017

On Sunday, the Trump administration rolled out a new iteration of its much-critiqued travel ban, a version that targets a slightly different set of countries and has no expiration date. The new ban may also differ from its predecessors by posing a more difficult challenge to those who would try to fight it in court, as Reuters detailed Monday in dialogue with several legal experts.

"The greater the sense that the policy reflects a considered, expert judgment, the less the temptation (by courts) to second-guess the executive," Saikrishna Prakash, a University of Virginia law professor, told Reuters. To the extent that this version "looks less like a matter of prejudice or a desire to fulfill a campaign promise," Prakash said, the safer from legal contest it will be.

Because the new ban adds North Korea and select government officials from Venezuela to its no-entry list, the White House can more easily argue it is not excluding Muslims on the basis of their religion rather than measurable security risks.

That each of the eight nations targeted are subject to slightly different guidelines will also help the administration's case in court, as will the ban's reliance on a multi-month review by the Department of Homeland Security. The review "at least arguably attenuates the link between the president’s alleged bias and the policy," said Margo Schlanger, a law professor at the University of Michigan. Bonnie Kristian

See More Speed Reads