- Jon D. Michaels: Secondary systems of separating, checking power dusted off
- Trump presidency has shaken our constitutional reality to its very core
Jon D. Michaels is a professor of law at the UCLA School of Law, where he teaches and writes about administrative law, national security law, privatization, and the separation of powers. His book, "Constitutional Coup: Privatization's Threat to the American Republic," is forthcoming from Harvard University Press. Unless otherwise noted below, facts reflect research for his scholarly projects. The views expressed in this commentary are his own.
(CNN)In the immediate aftermath of President Donald Trump's surprising election, I received a number of calls and emails from students and former students, all Democrats to be sure. Should they accept jobs in the Justice Department? Should they remain in their posts in the Environmental Protection Agency? My answer was an unwavering yes. One serves regardless of the president's politics.
- After the White House placed gag orders on officials in the EPA and the Departments of Agriculture, Interior, Health and Human Services, the National Park Service stepped into the vacuum, tweeting perhaps inconvenient facts about the reality of climate change and drawing similarly inconvenient analogies between Japanese-American internment and the administration's new immigration policy. Soon, those accounts were likewise disabled. But in an elaborate game of whack-a-mole, dozens of "rogue twitter" accounts loosely affiliated with the EPA, NASA, the Forest Service, and other agencies have popped up, attracting millions of followers and spawning countless copycats, all of whom are quite literally speaking truth to power.
- Foreign Service officers in the State Department are busily circulating a formal dissent cable opposing the immigration ban on public policy grounds.The formal dissent cable is a venerable, though rarely resorted to, means of expressing rank-and-file opposition. At last reporting, the cable has over 1,000 signatures and has taken on a life and energy of its own. The challenge has not been in getting signatures but rather in recording all the signatures from the many, many officials stationed around the world who want their names added.
- Acting Attorney General Sally Yates directed Justice Department lawyers not to defend the President's immigration order before the federal courts, a staggering admission that the order is beyond the legal pale. Though summarily (and lawfully) fired, Yates made clear her principled objection to a dangerous and, in her considered judgment, legally unsupportable directive.