Byby Robert Faturechi, ProPublica, and Danielle Ivory, The New York Times |
President Trump entered office pledging to cut red tape, and within weeks, he ordered his administration to assemble teams to aggressively scale back government regulations. But the effort — a signature theme in Trump’s populist campaign for the White House — is being conducted in large part out of public view and often by political appointees with deep industry ties and potential conflicts. Most government agencies have declined to disclose information about their deregulation teams. But ProPublica and The New York Times identified 71 appointees, including 28 with potential conflicts, through interviews, public records and documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. Some appointees are reviewing rules their previous employers sought to weaken or kill, and at least two may be positioned to profit if certain regulations are undone. The appointees include lawyers who have represented businesses in cases against government regulators, staff members of political dark money groups, employees of industry-funded organizations opposed to environmental rules and at least three people who were registered to lobby the agencies they now work for.
ProPublica recently took a look at the Emoluments Clause, the provision of the Constitution which seems to ban payments from foreign countries to Donald Trump’s businesses once he becomes president unless Congress consents. But at least one scholar, whose work we inadvertently overlooked, insists that the clause does not apply to presidents, vice presidents or members of Congress. Professor Seth Barrett Tillman, a lecturer in law at the National University of Ireland Maynooth, bases his argument, which appeared in more accessible form in a New York Times Room for Debate feature in November and much earlier in scholarly form, including this article in the Northwestern University Law Review, makes two principal arguments. First, he notes that George Washington accepted two gifts from French officials while president without seeking congressional consent. Second, Tillman says that a list of office holders prepared by Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton for the Senate during the 2nd Congress, and which excluded elected officials such as the president, vice president and members of Congress, establishes that such officials were not intended to come within the Emoluments Clause’s scope.
This week’s Supreme Court decision in Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt was an unexpectedly sweeping victory for reproductive rights advocates 2014 a “game changer,” said Nancy Northrop of the Center for Reproductive Rights that “leaves the right to an abortion on much stronger footing than it stood on before this decision was handed down,” long-time court-watcher Ian Millhiser wrote. Abortion foes had hoped the court would use the Texas abortion case as an opportunity to gut not just Roe v. Wade, but also 1992’s seminal Planned Parenthood v. Casey, which held that abortion laws creating an “undue burden” on women were unconstitutional. Instead, the court clarified and strengthened Casey while striking down two of Texas law H.B. 2’s key provisions 2014 strict building rules for abortion clinics and a requirement that abortion doctors have admitting privileges at local hospitals. This could invalidate anti-abortion laws in another 25 states. The ruling is expected to have a monumental ripple effect, invalidating strict clinic laws in about half the states.
Millions of Americans live with the possibility that, at any moment, their wages or the cash in their bank accounts could be seized over an old debt. It’s an easily ignored part of America’s financial system, in part due to a common attitude that people who don’t pay their debts deserve what’s coming to them. A couple of years ago, we set out to find out more about the growing use of the courts to collect consumer debts. How many lawsuits are filed? Who is filing them?