No president has ever abolished a national monument, and it has been more than 50 years since a president shrank one. Nor has Congress revoked any significant monuments. The high regard given these special places is part of what makes President Donald Trump’s order to review all large monuments designated since 1996 so extraordinary. Courts have never decided whether a president has the legal authority to change or undo a designated monument, and now this uncertainty has sparked a clash of legal titans. A multitude of legal experts — including 121 law professors — argue that presidents lack the power to alter or revoke monuments.
Sen. Tom Udall has a plan to get Merrick Garland confirmed to the Supreme Court—a trade, of sorts, in which the Senate confirms Trump nominee Neil Gorsuch and Garland at the same time. Garland, who was nominated by President Barack Obama after the death of Antonin Scalia, never had a confirmation hearing, let alone a vote. Scalia died over a year ago, but the Republican majority in the Senate said they would not confirm a nominee by Obama in his final year of his presidency. Udall made the unusual announcement after a meeting with Gorsuch Monday, according to Politico. “You had President Trump saying, ‘I want to unite the country, I’m a deal-maker, I’m going to bring people together,’” Udall told reporters following his meeting with Gorsuch on Monday.
Far from ending with President-elect Trump’s announcement that he will separate himself from the management of his business empire, the constitutional debate about the meaning of the Emoluments Clause 2014 and whether Trump will be violating it 2014 is likely just beginning. That’s because the Emoluments Clause seems to bar Trump’s ownership of his business. It has little to do with his management of it. Trump’s tweets last Wednesday said he would be “completely out of business operations.” But unless Trump sells or gives his business to his children before taking office the Emoluments Clause would almost certainly be violated.
—Gov. Susana Martinez is hitting the presidential campaign trail. She will be campaigning with Marco Rubio in Jacksonville this Saturday, a day after going to Kansas. Martinez, of course, endorsed Rubio on Thursday. Kansas holds caucuses on Saturday, while Florida has primaries on March 15. Early voting begins Saturday, though hundreds of thousands have already cast ballots by mail in the Sunshine State.
Both U.S. Senators from New Mexico expressed condolences over the death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, while saying that President Barack Obama should nominate a replacement. Scalia died in Texas on Saturday, and the focus almost immediately turned to who would be the conservative justice’s replacement. Many conservatives, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, said that Obama should not nominate a replacement because he is nearing the end of his second term. Obama will be in office until Jan. 20, 2017, more than 11 months from now.
In a decision on Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against an environmental initiative that came from President Barack Obama’s administration. Justice Antonin Scalia, who was part of the majority in the ruling, wrote that the Environmental Protection Agency did not take costs into consideration when the agency used the Clean Air Act for new rules related to emissions from power plants. He and the majority said that the EPA put environmental outcomes over the potential costs to energy producers for regulation. “One would not say that it is even rational, never mind ‘appropriate,’ to impose billions of dollars in economic costs in return for a few dollars in health or environmental benefits. In addition, ‘cost’ includes more than the expense of complying with regulations; any disadvantage could be termed a cost,” Scalia wrote in the ruling.
Same-sex marriage is now legal in every state in the United States after a ruling by the United States Supreme Court. A little more than 11 years after Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage, the United States Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that same-sex couples have the right to marry and that laws that barred such marriages are, in fact, unconstitutional. “Were the Court to uphold the challenged laws as constitutional, it would teach the Nation that these laws are in accord with our society’s most basic compact,” Justice Anthonhy Kennedy wrote in the majority opinion. “Were the Court to stay its hand to allow slower, case-by-case determination of the required availability of specific public benefits to same-sex couples, it still would deny gays and lesbians many rights and responsibilities intertwined with marriage.” Within hours, same-sex couples in states that had previously not allowed same-sex marriages were lining up at courthouses to get married.