That “So-Called” Judge. . . .

As most readers probably already know, our president is referring in this tweet to Federal District Court Judge James Robart, a George W. Bush appointee who had the audacity to rule in favor of the attorneys general of Washington state and Minnesota on a lawsuit they brought seeking to overturn the president’s travel ban.

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Malloy Nominates D’Auria For Supreme Court

While the nation’s attention has been focused on President Trump’s nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court, Governor Dannel P. Malloy today announced the nomination of Gregory T. D’Auria to the Connecticut Supreme Court.  D’Auria, 53, will fill the vacancy created by the recent retirement of Justice Peter Zarella.

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Yale Federalist Society Hosts Symposium On Justice Thomas

On February 10-11, the Yale Federalist Society and Yale Law School will host a conference in honor of Supreme Court Justice and YLS alumnus Clarence Thomas.  The conference, which is open to the public, will feature an array of distinguished speakers.  Whatever your legal or political philosophy, the conference is sure to be thought-provoking and, therefore, worthwhile.  Check it out!

My Proposed Financial Disclosure Amendment To The Constitution

Donald Trump will become President of the United States tomorrow at noon. He still has not released his tax returns, and he probably never will. We still know very little about his actual finances, business arrangements with domestic and foreign entities, and financial debts to foreign lenders (especially the Chinese). What we do know, however, gives us good reason to believe that his financial and business interests around the world will create serious conflicts of interest that will affect his judgment as president.

The recent presidential campaign proved that longstanding norms that have governed candidates for the highest office in the land–such as disclosure of tax returns–are insufficient.  We need something much stronger than norms, stronger even than a statute.  We need a constitutional amendment.

I propose the following as the Twenty-Eighth Amendment to the United States Constitution:

No person shall be eligible to appear on any ballot for election to the offices of President or Vice President of the United States who has not at least six months before the election disclosed to the public his federal and state tax returns for the preceding seven years and a current statement of all assets and liabilities.

The Stories Behind The Stories

Dear Readers,

As many of you know, I am a long-time advocate for open government.  I am also the immediate past-president of the Connecticut Foundation for Open Government (CFOG), a tax-exempt, not-for-profit corporation founded in 1991 by citizens of Connecticut interested in promoting open government and the public’s right-to-know.

Please join CFOG and its supporters on Monday, January 23, from 5-7 pm at the Lyceum in Hartford, for the organization’s first important event of 2017–“The Stories Behind the Biggest Stories of 2016 . . . and the Storm on the 2017 Horizon.”  WNPR’s Colin McEnroe and CT News Junkie’s Christine Stuart will moderate a discussion by a star-studded panel including some of our state’s leading journalists.  They will highlight the “real” stories behind 2016’s headline news in Connecticut and predict the major stories of 2017. A small $10 donation is all that is required to attend this terrific event.

You can register online at or by email at

I look forward to seeing you there!

I hope to see you there!

To Avoid A Constitutional Problem, The Legislature Should Vote On Union Contracts

Please see this post on the CT Good Governance blog.

AG Files Opening Brief In CCJEF v. Rell Appeal

Just in case you missed it, on December 12 the Attorney General filed his opening brief in the Supreme Court in his challenge to the trial court’s dramatic ruling last fall in the long-running CCJEF v. Rell case, about which I’ve written previously.

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Emoluments, Pension Deals And More On The Legal Eagle Show

I had the pleasure of joining Marcia Chambers today on Legal Eagle, her weekly radio show on WNHH, the New Haven Independent’s affiliated radio station.  We discussed a wide range of topics, including the recent arrest of a reporter in New Haven for photographing a potential crime scene, President-Elect Donald Trump’s impending violations of the Emoluments Clause of the United States Constitution, and a potential constitutional problem with a recent deal between the Malloy administration and public employee unions to fix the state pension system.  Click here to listen to the show on SoundCloud.

In Support Of Kevin Lembo

The Connecticut Law Tribune has published an editorial supporting State Comptroller Kevin Lembo’s recent letter to the American Family Association, a conservative Christian ministry that is considered one of the most anti-gay lobbies in the country. Mr. Lembo told the AFA that its apparent failure to comply with the state’s nondiscrimination policy might render it ineligible to particulate participate in a program that allows state employees to contribute to certain charities through payroll deductions. The editorial explains why the First Amendment allows the state to exclude charitable organizations that discriminate based on sexual orientation and gender identity from the payroll deduction program.

UPDATE 12/19/16: I should have noted that the Second Circuit addressed this issue in 2003, in Boy Scouts of America v. Wyman.  The court of appeals upheld then-Comptroller Nancy Wyman’s decision to exclude the Boy Scouts of America from participating in the state charitable giving program because the BSA discriminated against gay men.

Donald Trump And Arguments From Ignorance

Most people, even very young children, have an intuitive sense that proof of the existence of something is required before that “something” is acknowledged as true. Kids say “prove it.” Adults understand that the burden of proof is almost always on the party asserting the truth of something. For example, in our justice system the burden of proof is on the state (in a criminal action) and the plaintiff (in a civil action). A defendant does not have to prove his innocence; the state must prove his guilt–beyond a reasonable doubt.

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