Showing posts from July, 2017

Another View: Twitter and the First Amendment

I try to keep these blog postings both short and readable.  That's one reason there are links to articles and legal documents (which I hope you read).  Of course, the issues I blog about quite often don't fit neatly in that format.  While I try not to "dumb down" issues, I can't flesh out every aspect of it.  And since the main purpose of this blog is "legal education for all", it's only proper that I give you differing views on these issues. Eugene Volokh is a highly respected law professor at UCLA, specializing in the First Amendment.  He is also a well-known blogger, most notably for  The Volokh Conspiracy . He published a piece before the Knight Center suit was filed, responding to a letter  the Knight Center sent to President Trump, arguing that his viewpoint-based blocking of people from his Twitter account violated the First Amendment.  Trump and his aides did not comply with the letter asking that the people represented by the Knight Cente

Twitter and the First Amendment

300 million people use Twitter and even those in the U. S. who don't use it hear about Twitter every day.  Maybe you use Twitter, as do friends, athletes, entertainers,  public figures, and  the President of the United States.  One feature of Twitter is that you can block people, that is, you can prevent, for whatever reason, another Twitter user from seeing your tweets, commenting on your tweets, view your followers (those who follow you) or the accounts you follow, or use the Twitter platform for searching for your tweets, and you as the blocking user won't see any tweets by the user you blocked.   Now if you block me, no one would argue that your blocking me rises to the level of a violation of any law or the Constitution: you're free to follow or not follow any user and block any user.  You have not violated my free speech rights by blocking me.  But what if you are the President?  What if your account, rather than being a private forum, is a public forum?  If

Pardon Me: Can The President Pardon Himself?

A blogger these days just can't plan.  When you think that you have your next blog posting all worked out, you are suddenly faced with the dreaded OBE: Overtaken By Events.  That's what happened Thursday night at about 9:15 when the Washington Post broke the story that Trump's lawyers are looking into the presidential power to grant pardons, including pardoning himself.  This post will focus on the question most people are asking: can the President pardon himself?  There are other, interesting issues: Prof. Steve Vladeck covers this and four other pardon-related issues briefly and clearly in this piece .  A short, worthwhile read. Let's start with the Constitution.  Article II, Section 2 provides: "The President...shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment" Just looking at the text, there seems to be nothing that would prevent the President from pardoning himself.  And because 

Upcoming Events

I have been on vacation since July 13th, but of course I have not stopped thinking about the law.  I will be posting later in the week on (at least) two topics: Donald Trump's Twitter account and the First Amendment challenge to his blocking people, and the ongoing emoluments litigation. Thanks for staying tuned!

Collusion versus Conspiracy.

This is a short post on two terms that I'm sure you're hearing a lot right now: collusion and conspiracy.  They look and sound similar, and it's easy to both confuse one with the other and be unsure of the meaning and legal significance of each.  And the news media, most often not trained in the law and forced into sound-bite length segments (there are exceptions on both counts) don't make it any clearer.  (I'm not trying to trash the media here, but there is only so much anyone in their circumstances can do).  So here goes. (Some of what follows comes from the "Law and Order" column of Politico which can be found here .  Well worth the read). Collusion, as bad as it sounds and as bad as it can be, is not by itself a crime.  The only place collusion is a federal crime is in antitrust law (e.g., price fixing).  Now the act of colluding--a secret agreement between two or more parties to facilitate their ends--can clearly lead to a crime/criminal activity

The 25th Amendment (and you know who).

When I took C onstitutional Law back in law school, no one ever talked about the 25th Amendment. Despite the course being 4 credits and being taught by an amazing professor (who now sits on the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals), you just can't cover everything in the Constitution.  (The Constitution Annotated, with expert commentary and cites to every major Supreme Court case, which you can download for free here , is 2862 pages long).  Also, because it had never been litigated (and still hasn't), and worked out just fine during the Watergate (and post-Watergate) Agnew/Nixon/Ford transition, it just wasn't an issue.   You can read the 25th Amendment here . But the Watergate mess only involved the first two sections of the Amendment: Section 1 (President resigns, Vice President takes over) and Section 2 (Vice Presidency vacant, President selects a Vice President, confirmed by a majority vote of both Houses of Congress), though it happened in reverse order.  And the uses o

Welcome to Ignorantia Legis Non Excusat!

Welcome to my blog!  It is a blog devoted first and foremost to "legal education for everyone".  No, I'm not trying to turn anyone into a lawyer (having taught at a law school I know what's involved in that).   Nor will I be using this blog to express my own legal opinions (though you can't talk about the law without doing some of that).  The goal is to provide information about the law and how it operates, usually focused on the legal newsworthy events of the day, though from time to time it may be a historic event that I think is important (or a legal oddity that I find interesting). First, an important caveat: this blog is not meant for, does not, and (according to the Rules of Professional Conduct) cannot provide any type of legal advice.  As they say, if you are in need of some legal advice, get a lawyer. Why this blog, you might ask?  It actually started with a series of postings on my Facebook page about the "travel ban" cases that