See you in court
February 16, 2019

President Trump on Friday declared a national emergency to redirect about $6.7 billion from programs in the Departments of Treasury and Defense to border wall construction. Less than 24 hours later, the declaration already faces its first legal challenge.

A lawsuit has been brought by Public Citizen, a progressive advocacy group, on behalf of Texan landowners whose property would be used for the wall. The suit argues Trump "exceeded his constitutional authority and authority under the National Emergencies Act" and asks that he be banned from "using the declaration and funds appropriated for other purposes to build a border wall."

The Justice Department reportedly warned the president in advance of his Friday announcement that the declaration would be held up in court. Trump himself acknowledged as much, musing in a sing-song voice that after his declaration, the White House "will then be sued, and they will sue us in the 9th Circuit [Court] ... and then we'll end up in the Supreme Court, and hopefully we'll get a fair shake, and we'll win at the Supreme Court, just like the ban [on travel from majority-Muslim nations]."

Whether Trump's forecast is correct remains to be seen. Conservative radio pundit Hugh Hewitt on Friday predicted the emergency declaration would move through the courts fairly quickly, and that Trump would win on appeal, perhaps before reaching the Supreme Court.

Few echoed that expectation. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) promised Congress would use "every remedy available," including the courts, to fight Trump's action, and California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) likewise pledged a court challenge to this presidential "vanity project."

George Conway, a conservative lawyer and the husband of White House counselor Kellyanne Conway, tweeted that Trump knows he will lose in court and that the emergency declaration is unconstitutional. And Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) warned the declaration will "likely get tied up in litigation, and most concerning is that it would create a new precedent." Bonnie Kristian

February 11, 2019

President Trump is being sued by former White House communications aide Cliff Sims, author of a tell-all book about his time working in the Trump administration.

Last week, the Trump campaign filed an arbitration claim against the Team of Vipers author, saying he violated a nondisclosure agreement he signed while working for Trump during the 2016 presidential election. Sims has said he doesn't remember if he ever signed a nondisclosure agreement. In the lawsuit filed Monday, Sims' attorney says Trump is "seeking to impose civil liability against Mr. Sims through application of NDAs that apply to information Mr. Sims learned solely during his federal service."

The suit also accuses Trump of trying to enforce only certain NDAs; he went after former aide Omarosa Manigault Newman, whose book about her time in the White House was less than flattering, but left Corey Lewandowski and Sean Spicer, whose books he liked, alone. Trump has called Sims a "low-level staffer" who "pretended to be an insider when in fact he was nothing more than a gofer." Catherine Garcia

November 24, 2018

A New York judge on Friday denied a request from President Trump's attorneys to dismiss a lawsuit brought by New York State Attorney General Barbara Underwood which accuses the president of misusing his family's charitable foundation for political purposes.

The suit alleges Trump and his three eldest children, Donald Jr., Ivanka, and Eric Trump, through the foundation engaged in "extensive unlawful political coordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and willful self-dealing transactions to benefit Mr. Trump's personal and business interests, and violations of basic legal obligations for nonprofit foundations."

The president's lawyers argued he is immune from lawsuits while in office, protested the family's ignorance of any wrongdoing, and said the suit is politically motivated. The judge rejected all three claims.

Underwood praised the decision in a statement saying "the Trump Foundation functioned as little more than a checkbook to serve Mr. Trump's business and political interests." Trump Foundation lawyer Alan Futerfas maintained "all of the money raised by the Foundation went to charitable causes to assist those most in need." Bonnie Kristian

November 19, 2018

A federal judge in California will hear arguments Monday for blocking President Trump's November executive order restricting asylum applications to migrants who enter the U.S. legally.

Civil rights groups aim to persuade U.S. District Judge Jon Tigar the order violates current immigration law, as the Immigration and Nationality Act says anyone who arrives in the U.S. "whether or not at a designated port of arrival" may apply for asylum. They also argue the administration made a procedural error by failing to provide adequate time for public comment on the new rule.

The Trump administration has claimed via a statement by acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker and Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen that Trump holds "broad authority to suspend or restrict" immigration if he believes it is in U.S. national interest to do so.

Should Tigar, appointed by former President Barack Obama, decide against the Trump administration Monday, it will likely be a temporary ruling restoring the previous guidelines while further litigation proceeds. Bonnie Kristian

November 7, 2018

The Girl Scouts of the USA filed a federal lawsuit on Tuesday against the Boy Scouts of America, accusing the organization of trademark infringement.

The Boy Scouts announced last fall that it would start letting girls join the Cub Scouts, a decision that angered the Girl Scouts. "We are confused as to why, rather than working to appeal to the 90 percent of boys who are not involved in BSA programs, you would choose to target girls," Girl Scouts national President Kathy Hopinkah Hannan wrote in a letter published last year by BuzzFeed News.

The Scouts BSA program is open to boys and girls ages 11 to 17, and in the lawsuit, the Girl Scouts argues this generic use of "Scouts" will "not only cause confusion among the public," but will also "marginalize the Girl Scouts movement by causing the public to believe that GSUSA's extraordinarily successful services are not true or official 'Scouting' programs, but niche services with limited utility and appeal." The Girl Scouts also allege that marketing materials for the Boy Scouts make it look like the two organizations have combined. Catherine Garcia

November 3, 2018

Six Honduran migrants in the caravan slowly making its way through Mexico have filed a class-action lawsuit against President Trump's stated plans for their reception at the U.S. border.

The suit alleges Trump "continues to abuse the law, including constitutional rights, to deter Central Americans from exercising their lawful right to seek asylum in the United States." It argues his intent to refuse asylum to those who enter the U.S. illegally violates the Fifth Amendment's guarantee of due process, as current law allows asylum applications regardless of entry point.

"Trump's policy of keeping all persons detained until they must leave the country necessarily violates due process rights," said the migrants' attorney, John Shoreman. "[T]he plaintiffs are seeking asylum, and Trump simply cannot stop them from legally doing so by using military, or anyone."

The White House and the Department of Justice did not comment on the suit. Bonnie Kristian

November 3, 2018

A federal judge on Friday denied a request from the Justice Department to prevent collection of evidence in a lawsuit alleging President Trump has violated the Constitution's emoluments clause by maintaining a financial interest in his Washington, D.C., hotel. The provision bans the president from accepting gifts from foreign heads of state absent congressional consent.

Judge Peter J. Messitte directed the plaintiffs, the attorneys general for Maryland and the District of Columbia, to create a schedule for evidence collection within 20 days. He limited the discovery to the Washington property but dismissed the Trump team's claim that producing this evidence would be unduly burdensome on the administration. "The president himself appears to have had little reluctance to pursue personal litigation despite the supposed distractions it imposes upon his office," Messitte wrote.

"The Department of Justice disagrees with and is disappointed by this ruling," said an agency representative. "This case, which should have been dismissed, presents important questions that warrant immediate appellate review."

A separate emoluments suit brought by about 200 Democratic members of Congress is also pending in federal court. Bonnie Kristian

October 13, 2018

A lawsuit challenging Harvard University's use of race as a factor in admission decisions heads to trial Monday in Boston.

At issue is whether the school unfairly discriminates against Asian-American applicants, whom the lawsuit says would have a better chance of acceptance — all other things being equal — were they white, black, or Hispanic. Harvard says it considers applicants using a "whole person review" and cultivates a "diverse campus environment."

"The case is critically important," said Nicole Gon Ochi of Asian Americans Advancing Justice–Los Angeles, which backs Harvard, "as it's really about diversity at colleges all across the country."

Harrison Chen, an Asian-American student who was rejected by Harvard and has worked with the plaintiff organization, Students for Fair Admissions, disagrees. "We have created institutions that fail to reward merit, losing sight of the American Dream and failing our citizens," he has argued. "We are trying to combat past inequalities with, ironically, additional inequality."

The lawsuit is supported by the Trump administration's Justice Department, which has opened a similar inquiry into Yale University. Bonnie Kristian

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