The Insurrection Act of 1807 empowers the President of the United States to deploy U.S. military and National Guard troops inside the United States in certain circumstances. But what are the limits of this Presidential power; does does the Insurrection Act narrow the powers granted to the President under the Constitution, or is it perfectly compatible with the Constitution? Who decides the precise scope of these powers? Can a governor or state legislature reject the offer for help or assertion of power?

— John G. Malcolm, Vice President, Institute for Constitutional Government, Director of the Meese Center for Legal & Judicial Studies and Senior Legal Fellow, The Heritage Foundation
— Prof. John C. Yoo, Emanuel S. Heller Professor of Law, University of California at Berkeley School of Law

Three cases before the Supreme Court consider the ability of grand juries and congressional committees to subpoena the personal tax records of the President. In Trump v. Mazars USA and Trump v. Deutsche Bank, three House committees subpoenaed the President’s tax records. In Trump v. Vance, a local grand jury has subpoenaed these tax documents as well. There are several issues at play in determining if these subpoenas are valid.

Starting with the Congressional subpoenas, the President claims that these subpoenas are for information protected under the Right to Financial Privacy Act, which prohibits disclosure of a customer’s financial records to “any Government authority” without certain procedures the committees concede they did not follow; but the committees claim that they are not a “Government authority” under the meaning of the Act. Secondly, the President claims the Internal Revenue Code, which allows disclosure but only with procedural requirements the committees admit that they have not done. But the committees claim this requirement only applies if the bank acquired the tax documents from the IRS. Third, the President claims there is no legitimate legislative purpose to the subpoena which is required for such a legislative subpoena. The committees note that although that requirement exists, the scope of what is within a proper legislative purpose is very broad and met in this case.

COVID-19 has disrupted the world like few other events in recent history. The disruptions are sure to lead to disagreements and serious legal disputes. As matters are sorted out in courts across the country, how should and how will science and expert testimony be used? How will the ‘battle of experts’ be engaged in the courts? Will standards of expertise change in either direction, either in sympathy for people who have suffered, or in anticipation of opportunistic plaintiffs seeking a payout?

— Mark A. Behrens, Partner and Co-Chair, Public Policy Group, Shook Hardy & Bacon LLP
— Jeff Stier, Senior Fellow, Taxpayers Protection Alliance

Paul Atkins, Patomak Global Partners CEO, and banking consultant Bert Ely will discuss the numerous programs Congress, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, has directed the Federal Reserve to implement to provide financial support to America’s financial institutions, state and local governments, and the broader economy. Much of this support will consist of the Fed purchasing bonds and other debt instruments, which could balloon the Fed’s balance to a record size. Some of these support programs were undertaken after the 2008 financial crisis; others have never been tried before. Paul and Bert will also offer their views as to how these programs might play out, and their potential longer term impacts on the U.S. financial system and the broader economy – all of which is taking place in an election year. The latter portion of this one-hour teleforum will be open for comments and questions from participants.

— Paul Atkins, CEO, Patomak Global Partners
— Bert Ely, Principal, Ely & Company Inc.

Shut-down orders issued by state governors amid the COVID-19 pandemic and federal responses to the pandemic such as the CARES Act raise a range of issues related to religious freedom. Join us for this teleforum that will discuss the constitutional and statutory issues raised by these measures, including religious exemptions and participation by religious institutions in federally funded relief programs.

— Kim Colby, Director of the Center of Law and Religious Freedom, Christian Legal Society
— Prof. Michael P. Moreland, University Professor of Law and Religion and Director of the Eleanor H. McCullen Center for Law, Religion and Public Policy, Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law

First appearing in a 1949 dissent authored by Justice Robert H. Jackson, the phrase “the Constitution is not a suicide pact” is being cited today by critics of perceived government overreach. Local, state, and federal authorities have directed citizens to self-isolate to prevent the spread of COVID-19, causing the biggest economic shutdown in modern history. Part of the effort to “flatten the curve,” these initially voluntary quarantines are quickly becoming legal mandates in certain states (and nations across the world). In California and New York, people violating stay-home orders for non-essential activities have been ticketed and cited with misdemeanors. Is there a point at which these restrictions on travel and assembly violate the rights inherent in America’s constitutional order? Many legal scholars agree the chief executive has quasi-wartime powers during national pandemics, but is there a limiting principle or expiration date? Join Professors Richard Epstein and Anthony Kreis as they discuss the viral menace and civil liberties in this Teleforum.

— Prof. Richard A. Epstein, Laurence A. Tisch Professor of Law and Director, Classical Liberal Institute, New York University School of Law
— Prof. Anthony Kreis, Visiting Assistant Professor of Law, Chicago-Kent College of Law, Illinois Institute of Technology

Conversation with the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai.

A coronavirus outbreak is raising attention and concern worldwide. Dr. Jennifer Nuzzo and Prof. Lawrence Gostin will discuss the outbreak. What can be done about it? What do we know, and what remains unknown? Join the call to learn about the law and policy options available against this urgent national security crisis.

Dr. Nuzzo is an epidemiologist and Senior Scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. Her work focuses on outbreak detection and response. Dr. Nuzzo has advised national governments on pandemic planning efforts, and also worked as a public health epidemiologist for the City of New York.

Does New York’s “rent stabilization” law violate the federal Constitution? The law, which regulates approximately 1 million apartments in New York City, was enacted more than fifty years ago and remains in effect based on an every-three-year declaration of a housing “emergency.” The law does not merely regulate rent levels, it also limits a property owner’s right to determine who uses an apartment, to convert the property to new uses, and to occupy the property for use by the owner and his or her family.

A lawsuit filed last year asserts that the New York law—including 2019 amendments that significantly increased the restrictions on property owners—violates due process and effects both physical and regulatory takings of the property that it regulates. New York City, New York State, and tenant advocacy groups have moved to dismiss the action.

On February 24, 2020, the Supreme Court will hear argument in two consolidated cases, U.S. Forest Service v. Cow Pasture River Assn. and Atlantic Coast Pipeline Assn. v. Cow Pasture River Assn., in which the Fourth Circuit invalidated the permit for construction of a multi-billion-dollar natural gas pipeline that crosses the Appalachian Trail on Forest Service land in Virginia. The issue is which, if any, federal agency can authorize construction that impacts the Trail, which crosses private, state and federal land from Georgia to Maine and operates under a host of statutes, regulations and private agreements. The case is a textbook study in legislative interpretation, congressional intent and private-public cooperative agreements.

Our presenters will be two of the lawyers who filed amicus briefs for parties directly impacted by the case. Keith Bradley, counsel for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, is a partner with the Squire Patton Boggs firm in Denver and former counsel with the Department of Energy, where he was lead lawyer on implementation of the Iran nuclear deal. Tom Jensen is a partner with Perkins, Coie in Washington, D.C. He formerly served as the majority counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources and was the associate director for natural resources on the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Roger Marzulla, partner at Marzulla Law in Washington, D.C. and former head of the U.S. Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, will moderate.

Public notice and comment on rulemaking is a core requirement of the Administrative Procedure Act, and creates the administrative record on which any subsequent judicial review will be based. Yet many people (even people who take the trouble to vote) seem to think that commenting on rules is difficult or futile, and therefore don’t participate – even when they care about the outcome. This Teleforum will discuss the practical mechanics of tracking the development of rules and filing timely comments; in fact, timely filing is about the only legal requirement for getting comments onto the record. It will describe the sorts of comments that tend to be effective in persuading an agency, including comments made directly by affected small entities without professional representation. It will also explain the concept of a “Public Interest Comment” which argues, not on behalf of any particular party or cause (however worthy), but in favor of a balanced resolution of the conflicting considerations that an agency must take into account.

— Prof. Susan Dudley, Director, GW Regulatory Studies Center and Distinguished Professor of Practice, Trachtenberg School of Public Policy & Public Administration, George Washington University
— Karen Harned, Executive Director, National Federation of Independent Business Small Business Legal Center
— Prof. Brian F. Mannix, Research Professor, Regulatory Studies Center, George Washington University

Professor Brian Fitzpatrick of Vanderbilt Law School and Ted Frank of the Center for Class Action Fairness will debate Professor Fitzpatrick’s provocative new book, The Conservative Case for Class Actions (University of Chicago Press). Join us for this lively conversation.

Amazon Web Services, Inc. (Amazon) has claimed in a lawsuit in the United States Court of Federal Claims that unlawful intervention by President Donald Trump deprived it of a $10 billion decade-long contract with the Department of Defense (DoD) for a cloud computing system known as the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastucture (JEDI). Long considered the favorite, Amazon nevertheless lost the award to Microsoft Corp. in a competitive bidding process that Amazon claims was arbitrary and capricious and tainted by President Trump’s open feud with Amazon company founder Jeffrey Bezos.

Dan Kelly, Alexander Major and Franklin Turner, nationally recognized commentators and practitioners in the federal bid protest arena, will unpack what we know about Amazon’s case, and discuss the possible grounds, laws and regulations governing mandates for competitive contracting by federal agencies.

Bridget Anne Kelly and William Baroni were convicted of wire fraud, federal program fraud, and conspiracy for orchestrating lane closures on the George Washington Bridge in September, 2013, as an elaborate punishment to the mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey, for refusing to endorse Governor Chris Christie for re-election. In Bridget Anne Kelly v. United States, the latest in a series of political corruption cases to reach the Supreme Court, the justices will consider whether these acts can amount to defrauding the government. Steve Klein, a partner at Barr & Klein PLLC and a member of the Free Speech & Election Law Executive Committee, will discuss the implications of the case and give his thoughts on oral argument.

— Steve Klein, Partner, Barr & Klein PLLC

This teleforum focuses on the sundry problems with so-called “Brand X deference,” whose name derives from the 2005 Supreme Court decision in National Cable & Telecom. Assoc. v. Brand X Internet Services. The judicial deference holding in the case was that federal agencies may issue new regulations that supersede previous interpretations of the relevant statute made by federal courts of appeals (unless that prior federal-court interpretation purported to be the only permissible interpretation of the statute). Hence, even if a federal circuit court of appeals has previously interpreted a statute, if an agency with jurisdiction subsequently issues a new regulation interpreting that statute differently, the federal court in a future case must defer (i.e., give Chevron deference) to the agency’s new interpretation of the statute.

This month the U.S. Supreme Court will consider whether or not to take up a case that could do for Brand X deference what Kisor v. Wilkie did for Auer deference. That is, the Court could radically reduce the scope of Brand X’s application and/or clarify that Brand X deference only applies when a prior federal court did not use traditional tools of statutory analysis in interpreting the statutory provision at issue. Or, the Court could go even further and do away with Brand X deference altogether, as then-Judge Gorsuch called for when he was serving on the Tenth Circuit.

At issue in the case of Holguin-Hernandez v. United States is whether a formal objection after pronouncement of sentence is necessary to invoke appellate reasonableness review of the length of a defendant’s sentence. Daniel Guarnera joined us to discuss the case as presented at oral argument before the Supreme Court on December 10, 2019.

— Daniel Guarnera, Associate, Kellogg, Hansen, Todd, Figel & Frederick

On Wednesday evening, the United States House of Representatives voted to impeach President Donald Trump. This is the third impeachment of a sitting U.S. President after Johnson and Clinton. As a part of their continuing conversation series, John Malcolm and John Yoo discuss the vote, Trump’s letter, possible Senate trial rules, comparisons to the historic meaning of impeachment, and more.

— John G. Malcolm, Vice President, Institute for Constitutional Government, Director of the Meese Center for Legal & Judicial Studies and Senior Legal Fellow, The Heritage Foundation
— Prof. John C. Yoo, Emanuel S. Heller Professor of Law, University of California at Berkeley School of Law

In late October, the People of the State of New York v. ExxonMobil Corp. trial began in the Supreme Court of the State of New York before Justice Barry Ostrager. The lawsuit was brought under New York’s Martin Act, an anti-fraud statute, and alleged that ExxonMobil misled its investors about how the company accounted for climate-change risks. The trial was the culmination of a nearly three year investigation that was initially launched by former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman with his successor eventually filing a lawsuit against ExxonMobil in the fall of 2018. Justice Ostrager handed down his decision on December 10, 2019, ruling for Exxon. Andrew M. Grossman, partner at BakerHostetler, joins us to discuss the ruling, next steps in the case and its implications for other ongoing litigation brought by states and municipalities against energy companies.

— Andrew M. Grossman, Partner, Baker & Hostetler LLP

On September 30 a federal district judge in Massachusetts issued a ruling rejecting discrimination claims in Students for Fair Admissions v. President and Fellows of Harvard College, 2019 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 170309 (D. Mass.), a case that many expect to go to the U.S. Supreme Court and potentially redefine affirmative action law. In the case, Asian-American students allege that Harvard’s racial preferences for other minority groups discriminate against them in violation of Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The students introduced evidence that Asian enrollment at Harvard is less than half what it would be if admission was based solely on academic achievement; that Asian applicants receive the lowest scores on an amorphous “personal rating” assigned by admissions officials who have not met them; and that Harvard’s “holistic” admissions system, touted by the Supreme Court as the model for permissible racial preferences, was originally devised to exclude Jews.

The case raises the question of the meaning of “diversity” in an increasingly multi-racial era, and the continued justification for affirmative action in that era when its burden may now fall largely not on the white majority but on another historically marginalized racial minority group.

In Atlantic Richfield Co. v. Christian, the Supreme Court will determine whether the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act preempts state common law claims for restoration damages for pollution also addressed by an EPA-directed cleanup plan. In this case, a Montana copper smelter polluted its neighbors’ properties for decades, but has also spent $450 million to remediate this pollution under a plan negotiated with EPA. Believing Montana state law entitles them to more extensive restoration than the EPA plan provides, neighboring property owners sued Atlantic Richfield for trespass and nuisance, seeking restoration damages and other relief. Jonathan Wood and Corbin Barthold join us to discuss the oral argument in this case and its implications for CERCLA and property rights.

— Jonathan Wood, Senior Attorney, Pacific Legal Foundation
— Corbin K. Barthold, Senior Litigation Counsel, Washington Legal Foundation