Today's Headlines and Commentary

Today's Headlines and Commentary

By Victoria Clark
Wednesday, June 27, 2018, 3:21 PM

Anthony Kennedy announced he will retire from the Supreme Court, reports the New York Times. Justice Kennedy was nominated by President Reagan in 1988 and successfully positioned himself as a key swing vote on many of the court’s most significant rulings. During his tenure, Kennedy penned landmark opinions such as Planned Parenthood v. Casey, Boumediene v. Bush, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, and Obergefell v. Hodges. President Trump now has the opportunity to nominate a conservative justice, a move that is likely to tip the high court further to the right.

A federal judge granted an injunction that will halt the separation of families at the border, according to CNN. Judge Dana Sabraw of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California ordered federal officials to reunite parents with their children under the age of five within two weeks, and with their children over the age of five within 30 days. The injunction is part of a larger case that began when the American Civil Liberties Union sued Immigration and Customs Enforcement on behalf of a Congolese woman separated from her 7-year-old daughter. The case has since expanded to include a larger class of plaintiffs. In the order, Judge Sabraw was critical of President Trump’s executive order on family separations, which she called “reactive governance” responding to “a chaotic circumstance of the Government’s own making.” The government is likely to appeal the injunction. Read the full order, as well as the order granting class certification on Lawfare.

Beginning Nov. 4, the United States will sanction any country that buys oil from Iran, reports the Wall Street Journal. The announcement surprised many nations who expected to have more time to reduce their imports after the U.S. announced its withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal in May. The U.S. will not issue sanction waivers to those nations who are unable to meet the deadline. According to a senior State Department official, the Trump administration now considers the economic isolation of Iran “one of our top national-security priorities.”

A federal judge in Alexandria, Va., rejected Paul Manafort’s claim that Special Counsel Robert Mueller lacks the authority to pursue charges against him, according to the Washington Post. Attorneys for Manafort had argued that their client’s business dealings before the 2016 campaign, which are the subject of the charges against him, are outside the scope of Mueller’s investigation. Judge T.S. Ellis III refused to dismiss the indictment on the grounds that it was “plausible, indeed ultimately persuasive … to argue that the investigation and prosecution has some relevance to the election.” The opinion included a strong warning against the use of special counsels for high-level investigations: “Those involved should be sensitive to the danger unleashed when political disagreements are transformed into partisan prosecutions.”

Russia and Syria oppose a measure that would seek to determine who is responsible for chemical weapons attacks, reports the New York Times. Currently, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) only ascertains whether a chemical weapons attack occurred but not who is behind the attack. Britain proposed expanding the organization’s responsibilities at a OPCW meeting on Tuesday, but before a debate could occur on the measure, members of the Russian, Syrian and Iranian delegations interjected with procedural questions to forestall a meaningful discussion.

National security adviser John Bolton met with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday to prepare for a summit with President Trump that is planned for mid-July, reports the Post. According to a Kremlin foreign policy adviser, the summit is expected to cover topics including Iran, Syria, and nuclear arms control. These negotiations are a marked shift from Bolton’s previous stance on Russia. In July 2017, Bolton argued “We negotiate with Russia at our peril.”

A Libyan militia leader involved in the Benghazi attacks will be sentenced today, according to the Post. Federal prosecutors allege that Ahmed Abu Khattalah was involved in the 2012 terrorist attack that killed a U.S. ambassador and three U.S. citizens. Khattalah was convicted of conspiracy and providing material support to terrorists. Prosecutors seek a life sentence.

A British judge granted Uber a temporary license to operate in London, reports BBC. London transport authorities previously refused to renew Uber’s license on the grounds that the company’s behavior was not “fit and proper.” One of the main areas of concern was Uber’s policy for reporting crimes. The tech company accepted the decision with enthusiasm: Uber’s general manager for Britain said the company will work diligently to earn back the city’s trust.

El Chapo’s lawyers will now argue he was not the top man in the Sinaloa drug cartel, according to the Times. When Joaquín Guzmán Loera was extradited from Mexico to the United States last year, federal prosecutors celebrated the chance to bring charges against the top man in the notorious Sinaloa cartel. It now appears he may not have been in charge after all. At a Tuesday court hearing, Guzmán’s lawyers referenced a sealed letter in which prosecutors admitted that a number of confidential informants have said Guzmán may not have been the top man. Defense counsel now seek more information from the government about the informants and their claims.

ICYMI: Yesterday on Lawfare

Heather Hurlburt cautioned against foreign policy institutions that are stuck in the past.

J. Dana Stuster highlighted Turkey’s election results, a new Syrian offensive, and growing protests in Iran.

Matthew Kahn posted the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in Hawaii v. Trump.

Mihoko Matsubara reviewed Shinichi Yokohama’s book on Japanese cybersecurity.

Hilary Hurd and Yishai Schwartz summarized the Supreme Court’s travel ban ruling.

Victoria Clark posted the District Court opinion rejecting Paul Manafort’s claim that the Special Counsel lacks the authority to pursue charges against him.

Peter Margulies offered his thoughts on the travel ban ruling.

Orin Kerr outlined the implications of Carpenter on the law of subpoenas.

Jen Patja Howell posted the Lawfare Podcast where Benjamin Wittes and Stephanie Leutert discussed recent developments along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Kahn posted the federal court order granting an injunction on behalf of a class of immigrants separated from their children at the border.

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