President Trump filed a lawsuit against the House Committee on Ways and Means, New York State’s attorney general and the state’s tax commissioner on Tuesday, to block the release of multiple years of his state tax returns. Trump filed this suit “in his capacity as a private citizen” after the Ways and Means Committee sued the Treasury Department for his tax returns.
Latest in Separation of Powers
A forthcoming draft paper in the Harvard Law Review takes up the question.
Alan Z. Rozenshtein on Digital Communications and Data Storage Companies as "Surveillance Intermediaries"
Alan Z. Rozenshtein, a former contributor to Lawfare who now works at DOJ, has a new article forthcoming in Stanford Law Review, "Surveillance Intermediaries," analyzing the role of corporate actors such as Apple, Google, Facebook, and others, that dominate digital communications and data storage, situated between government and targets of surveillance.
Zivotofsky was expected to make a valuable contribution in the form of its analysis of the scope of exclusive executive power. But the Court failed to set forth a compelling or clear method of deciding exclusivity, and instead, it chose to rely on a variety of indeterminate sources. This approach is troubling for many reasons, not least because it opens the door to problematic “functional” analyses of the type exemplified by Zivotofsky itself.
This morning, the U.S. Supreme Court engaged deeply in Zivotofsky v. Kerry with significant questions implicating foreign relations law and the separation of powers, and—perhaps surprisingly—provided some illuminating answers. Lawfare has drafted a summary of the Court's 93-page opinion.
The Supreme Court in Zivotofsky held that the President can disregard a statute that requires him to designate “Israel” on passports of U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem because the statute infringes on the President’s exclusive power to recognize foreign sovereigns. It is very unusual for the Court to give the President a victory in defiance of a congressional restriction, and it is literally unprecedented for the Court to do so in the foreign relations context, as the Chief Justice noted in the first sentence of his dissent. This is one important feature of the case.
The decision in Zivotofsky v. Kerry, a blockbuster foreign policy-related Supreme Court case that many of us have been watching carefully, was just released: The DC Circuit is affirmed. The President holds the exclusive power to recognize foreign sovereigns, and the relevant statute compelling the Executive to write "Israel" on relevant passports impermissibly infringed on this exclusive authority to determine the status of Jerusalem.