CourtSide - The FindLaw Breaking Legal News Blog

Recently in Government Law Category

Since 1790, the government census also has been used to count every single person residing in the United States, to determine state and federal political representation and collect demographic data about the country's population. That demographic information includes race, sex, and age, and from 1820 to 1950, the census also gathered information on citizenship status.

Starting in 1960, though, the government dropped the citizenship question, reasoning that noncitizens and Hispanic citizens would be less likely to participate for fear of census information being used against them and their loved ones. The Trump administration attempted to reintroduce the citizenship question for the 2020 census, but a federal court put those plans on hold. You can see that full decision below.

It's safe to say that most Americans didn't know what an emolument was before Donald Trump became president, and even fewer knew there was an Emoluments Clause in the Constitution. But as the legal case accusing Trump of violating that clause moves forward, we're guessing more of us will brush up on professional ethics reading.

A slew of subpoenas were issued relating to that lawsuit, so it's probably a good time to remind you what the case is about, and what the subpoenas potentially mean. And you can get a look at those subpoenas below.

"Since the day I was sworn in as Attorney General of the United States," Jefferson Sessions wrote to President Donald Trump, "I came to work at the Justice Department every day determined to do my duty and serve my country." But that service has come to an end, according to his resignation letter, apparently at Trump's request.

You can read the letter below.

Sports gambling isn't a federal crime. After all, why can you go to Vegas and place wagers on just about any game you like? But a federal law did allow federal authorities and sports leagues to sue states for "authorizing" sports betting, and block them from doing so.

This small distinction was the statute's undoing, as the Supreme Court repealed the law, leaving it up to the states to legalize or criminalize sports betting. You can read the Court's ruling below:

The Justice Department has named former FBI director Robert Mueller as special counsel to head the investigation into allegations that Russian agents meddled in the 2016 presidential elections. That investigation is expected to touch on contact that Michael Flynn, President Trump's former national security advisor, had with Russia before and after the election.

The necessity of independent counsel to oversee the investigation became apparent following Trump's dismissal of James Comey who was the head of the FBI until last week. The DOJ order gives Mueller the authority to investigate ties between Russia, Trump, and his presidential campaign. You can see the order below:

Another day, another Trump executive order, another lawsuit seeking an injunction against said order. This time it's the Freedom From Religion Foundation, which describes itself as a "National non prophet nonprofit working to promote the separation of state and church," suing Trump mere hours after he signed his Presidential Executive Order Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty.

While the order purports to protect "the freedom of Americans and their organizations to exercise religion and participate fully in civic life without undue interference by the Federal Government," critics claim it is an illegal attempt to skirt a largely inconsequential provision of the tax code. All we are waiting on now is the inevitable federal district court order enjoining enforcement of Trump's order. You can read the FFRF's lawsuit requesting that injunction below.

Soon after his election as president, Donald Trump attempted to crack down on speech coming out of federal agencies, especially speech on social media that might be critical of the new administration or supportive of the previous one. That attempt backfired somewhat, with federal employees going "rogue" and creating alternate social media accounts used to blast Trump policy changes.

In response, the Trump administration furthered its attempt to silence disparaging speech, issuing a federal summons to Twitter in an effort to unmask the users behind at least one rogue account. Twitter didn't blink, and countersued the Department of Homeland Security, along with several other individuals and agencies.

Less than 24 hours later, Trump's team withdrew its summons and Twitter followed suit, dropping its complaint challenging the administration's power to demand such information. You can read Twitter's filing below.

The average citizen might not be too familiar with the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, but we're guessing that weird word will become more commonplace in American diction in the near future. Legally speaking, an emolument is a payment, advantage, or profit gained from a person's possession of elected office. And the reason for its recent prominence in headlines is the new possessor of the highest office in the land.

As many began pointing out long before he was elected, President Donald Trump could run into more than a few ethical dilemmas while in office, not the least of which are foreign governments making payments to his many hotels and businesses. Now the first lawsuit has been filed alleging the new president is violating the Constitution by allowing his businesses to accept these payments, and you can see the list of allegations below:

A letter from the Federal Election Commission to Donald Trump's presidential campaign cited over 1,000 donations that may have violated various campaign finance laws, totaling around $1.3 million in campaign funds. The letter, which you can read in full below, alleges Trump accepted donations from unregistered political groups and that individual donations exceeded legal limits.

According to CNN, these letters aren't uncommon, and Barack Obama and Bernie Sanders both received similar notices in the past.

In recent weeks, 2016 presidential candidate Donald Trump's charity, the Donald J. Trump Foundation, has come under increased scrutiny for not being very charitable. Now, the New York Attorney General says the Foundation isn't listed as a charity at all, and must stop fundraising in the Empire State.

According to AG Eric Schneiderman's office, the Trump Foundation failed to register with the state Charities Bureau and therefore illegally solicited contributions. In a Notice of Violation, the AG's office ordered the Foundation to "immediately cease soliciting contributions or engaging in any other fundraising activities in New York." You can read the full letter below: