FROM Elizabeth Wydra
With the help of conservative groups, Trump remakes the courts Trump is enjoying a modern presidential record for getting his federal appellate court nominees confirmed, and the conservative Federalist Society appears to have an outsized role in helping to suggest nominees. What impact will these mostly white men have on the civil rights, voting rights, privacy and immigration cases they hear?
Can President Trump 'pack' the federal court system? Judge Neil Gorsuch is likely to be confirmed to the US Supreme Court, and there may be other vacancies in the next four years. In addition, 124 judicial benches are open in federal appellate and district courts all over the country, and more retirements are inevitable. As long as Republicans dominate the Senate, there's a real chance that Mr. Trump could push the system to the Right for generations. That's been the goal of so-called "dark money" spent by shadowy billionaires to make American institutions more to their liking.
Is Donald Trump thumbing his nose at the Founding Fathers? The Constitution prohibits public officials — including the President — from financial conflicts of interest — domestic or foreign. Recent Chief Executives have sold off assets or placed them in blind trusts, but Donald Trump’s lawyer says there’s no way he could be “blind” to his very public investments. Trump may be violating America's basic law the moment he takes the oath of office a week from today. Many legal scholars -- and ethics watchdogs -- say he's failed to avoid financial conflicts as demanded by the Constitution. But as opponents whisper about possible impeachment, other experts insist he's done all that he can as the richest man ever elected to serve in the White House. We hear about Constitutional law -- and politics: is Trump right to say that most Americans don't care enough to make him change?
Undocumented Parents and the Supreme Court Today the Supreme Court heard a case that could determine the fate of President Obama's most sweeping executive action on deportation. It would also drastically change the lives of some four million undocumented immigrants in the US. The President's 2014 plan would delay the deportation of parents of children who are US citizens or permanent legal residents, and offer them temporary work permits. But it's been on hold since it was announced 18 months ago because of court challenges, leaving immigrants across the nation in limbo -- the majority of whom have been in the country for ten years or more. The case lands in a presidential campaign already swirling with talk of a wall on the Mexican border. Will the shorthanded high court end in a 44 deadlock?
Four Words and Seven Million Americans The Supreme Court found Obamacare to be constitutional two years ago. Today it was asked to decide a legal challenge . Does the law provide that subsidies for low-income people apply only where health insurance markets have been "established by the state?" The Court's interpretation of those four words could determine if subsidies are valid for seven million people who signed up where the federal government established the markets. It's a case deeply rooted in partisan politics. Four liberal court members and two conservatives made clear what they think. Chief Justice John Roberts could be the decider — but he was hardly heard from.
The longest US war: Will Trump send more troops to Afghanistan? The Trump White House is divided over the Pentagon's request for more troops in Afghanistan—where the US has been fighting for the past 16 years. Is there a formula -- either for "victory" or a political settlement? Is there an end in sight for America's longest war?
Human Rights in the era of Donald Trump President Trump’s UN Ambassador, Nikki Haley, said today the US might pull out of the United Nations’ Human Rights Council. Serious violators of human rights are members of the Council itself–and a US resignation could make things worse. Later on today’s show, now that he’s into his second term, comedian turned US Senator Al Franken is telling jokes again.
Is the threat from Russia missing from the Russia meddling probe? There's much being made about the Trump administration's possible ties with Russia. But the bottom line is Russia's effort to influence American democracy. Do the President and his aides care enough to take action before voters go back to the polls?