The Debt Ceiling Charade

Once again our elected representatives in Congress are engaged in political posturing over the so-called “debt ceiling.”  For readers who want to know (a) how the debt ceiling really works and (b) why it is a complete charade/sham and ought to be abolished, check out Jack Balkin’s (Yale Law Prof) excellent post on the issue.

Money quote:

So what good is the debt ceiling? Well, the only people who use it are politicians who want to hold the United States hostage and threaten to crash the world economy. It has no other function at this point.


Court Reporters Should Be Licensed

I’m always amazed at legislative proposals that just sort of “pop up” towards the end of a legislative session without much–or any–notice.  One that caught my eye is a bill, which has already passed the Senate, which would repeal the licensing requirement for court reporters.  (See section 5 of the bill.) Read the rest of this entry »


Fourth Circuit to Trump: “Travel Ban Is Unconstitutional”

The Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit issued its decision today largely affirming a District Court ruling that struck down President Trump’s Executive Order Travel Ban.  Here is the opening paragraph of the opinion:

The question for this Court, distilled to its essential form, is whether the Constitution, as the Supreme Court declared in Ex parte Milligan, 71 U.S. (4 Wall.) 2, 120 (1866), remains “a law for rulers and people, equally in war and in peace.” And if so, whether it protects Plaintiffs’ right to challenge an Executive Order that in text speaks with vague words of national security, but in context drips with religious intolerance, animus, and discrimination.

Click here to read the rest of the opinion (although the courts’ ultimate legal conclusion ought to be fairly obvious. . . .)  The case will likely end up in the Supreme Court.

UPDATE: Here’s another significant paragraph from the opinion.  It reveals the critical role that the courts will play in ensuring that the Trump administration abides by the Constitution.

The Government has repeatedly asked this Court to ignore evidence, circumscribe our own review, and blindly defer to executive action, all in the name of the Constitution’s separation of powers. We decline to do so, not only because it is the particular province of the judicial branch to say what the law is, but also because we would do a disservice to our constitutional structure were we to let its mere invocation silence the call for meaningful judicial review. The deference we give the coordinate branches is surely powerful, but even it must yield in certain circumstances, lest we abdicate our own duties to uphold the Constitution.


Waltz For Jennifer

This post, the first in quite a while, has nothing to do with the law.  Truth is, it is a beautiful spring morning (finally!) and I just felt like sharing a little jazz waltz I wrote for my amazing, incredible, beautiful wife, Jennifer.


Nominate G-Squared (Garland & Gorsuch) To The Supreme Court

Relations between Democrats and Republicans in Washington, D.C. have deteriorated to the point that I see little chance of the following suggestion becoming reality. But because hope springs eternal, I offer it anyway. It is hardly novel.

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Justice Zarella–Up Close And Personal

Since Peter T. Zarella retired from the Connecticut Supreme Court at end of 2016–after 16 years as an Associate Justice–I have had the great honor and pleasure of being his colleague at McElroy, Deutsch, Mulvaney & Carpenter, which he joined upon his retirement from the bench.

Recently, Emmy award-winning Connecticut journalist Diane Smith interviewed Justice Zarella at the Old State House.  It’s a terrific interview. Thoughtful questions, thoughtful answers on a variety of legal and judicial subjects.  Click here to watch the interview on CT-N.


Thoughts On Originalism In The Age Of Gorsuch

Today marked the fourth day of hearings on the nomination of Tenth Circuit Judge Neil Gorsuch to become a justice of the Supreme Court.  After three days of questioning Judge Gorsuch, the Senate Judiciary Committee turned its attention to testimony from a number of individuals, including Law Professor William Marshall of the University of North Carolina.

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In Search of Intellectual Honesty: A Belated Memoriam To Justice David M. Borden

“I hope I’ll be remembered as a judge who was intellectually honest about his craft.”

Justice David M. Borden

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Ninth Circuit Upholds TRO Against Presidential Order

Click here to read the Ninth Circuit’s decision upholding a temporary restraining ordering (TRO) against Mr. Trumps executive order (EO) concerning immigration.  Remember, this ruling is not a final adjudication of the merits of the legal arguments in support of, or against, the TRO.  It only addresses whether enforcement of the EO should be stayed pending a thorough review of its legality.  To be sure, part of the inquiry includes a preliminary review of the merits of the parties’ legal arguments.


That “So-Called” Judge Ctd.

Not content with his previous verbal lashing against the federal judge who enjoined his travel ban, the president has escalated his verbal assault on the judge with his latest tweets:

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