Civil servant? Worried about illegal orders? These lawyers want to defend you.
The tweet was simple, but promised a very complicated future:
“Any government official who refuses to execute Trump’s orders on grounds of illegality will receive free representation from me. & I’m good!” it read.
Good is not an idle boast. The author, Ian Samuel, 33, has clerked for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, worked for the Obama Justice Department, handled cybersecurity cases for a large corporate law firm and currently hosts the FirstMondays podcast about the Supreme Court while also teaching at Harvard Law School.
Frustrated by what he saw as a “clearly unconstitutional” executive order, he typed out his tweet on Friday night, plus a second one asking his 8000-plus followers to “please retweet this. My own audience is rather small but I need lots of people to know this offer exists.”
Then he went out to dinner. By the time he checked next, he’d been retweeted nearly 7000 times. By the end of the weekend, he’d compiled a list of nearly 100 other lawyers, law students and “people with no legal skills who want to help anyway, like one former secretary who offered to do any filing or stapling we needed.”
Ian Samuel, Harvard Law School lecturer who is offering to defend any government employees who refuse to carry out what they see as illegal executive orders . (Photo credit: Shannon McHugh)
He had also heard from some civil servants who might need to take him up on his offer.
Perhaps it was his own time spent in government, he said in an interview with Yahoo News, but when he read of the new immigration ban he immediately thought of the workers who would be needed to implement it.
“No government policy is self-executing,” he said in an interview, describing his thinking before posting his tweet. “The White House can command whatever they want, but it requires tremendous cooperation from the workers.”
And those workers, he says “aren’t under any obligation to break the law.” And, he contends, the policy announced Friday night to bar entry to citizens of seven largely Muslim nations, “is not only unwise, it also clearly breaks the law.”
Not all of the response to his tweet was positive. Several people angrily accused him of acting illegally himself. “They said next time I am up at Harvard, I’m going to have the police arrest you,” one said. “You are encouraging civil disobedience and anarchy.”
Fellow law professors who volunteered to help with the growing project stress that the group is not advocating anarchy, or encouraging civil servants not to do their jobs.
“We are not asking people to do things as much as we are saying ‘if you do this out of conscience we will defend you,” says Dan Epps, an associate professor of law at the Washington University School of Law and a co-host of the FirstMondays podcast, who met Samuel when he too clerked at the Supreme Court (Epps worked for Justice Kennedy.)
And there is more to defend them from than just threat of punishment from above, notes Leah Litman, assistant professor of law at the University of California at Irvine, who also clerked for Justice Kennedy. “Simply being asked to carry out an unlawful order puts government employees in jeopardy. If they do so, then they are open to lawsuits down the road by those who their actions have hurt.”
President Trump signs an executive order in the Oval Office. (Photo: Carlos Barria/Reuters)
Their hope, Samuel says, is that few employees will actually have to make the choice to enforce rules they think are illegal. “The ideal situation in my view is that no one ever needs the help we’re offering, because if you have a substantial number of, say, Customs and Border Patrol agents who say ‘we’re not going to do this’ the government would back off,” he says.
But they agree it is more likely that instead there will be more orders, affecting more employees, from more parts of government.
“It won’t just be the travel ban,” Litman says. “There may be other illegal orders related to other things coming out of this administration.”
They stress that they cannot promise to win the cases they take. While the Merit Systems Protections Board rules specifically protect the jobs of civil servants who refuse to enforce illegal acts, there is not a lot of case law on the details, because it hasn’t come up often in recent decades. “No one knows what any particular judge will do in a particular case,” Litman says.
But they do promise to take the case, pro bono.
“We are not saying ‘go do this’” Epps says. “We are saying ‘if you do this, we will fight for you.’”
Agreed Samuel: “What it means is we will put our money where our mouth is. There are so many of us out there ready to do something. A lot of legal energy waiting to be unleashed and unlocked.”
Could you please make a modern Bellarke AU songfic based off of 'Last Christmas'? With lots of angst and a happy ending?
kiss me now (and i’ll never fool you again)
a/n: You know what I’m about anon - ask and you shall receive :)
Clarke looked across the ER and felt like she was going to throw up.
That wasn’t an uncommon sensation in the Mt. Weather Memorial emergency room, especially around this time of year. Icy roads, the need to hang holiday lights, and poorly designed non-ergonomic snow shovels brought some pretty nasty injuries into the hospital. As an intern, Clarke had probably spent equal time cleaning up vomit from patients or their loved ones as she had actually practicing medicine. Never, though, had she been the one who was fighting nausea. Until now, when she was staring across the room, eyes locked on the very familiar figure filling out paperwork at the reception desk.
Bellamy Blake was back in town. Her heart stuttered with worry as she watched him saunter over to a hospital bed, but relief washed through her when she realized he wasn’t the one injured. Octavia was, face scrunched up as she got her shoulder examined. For a moment, Clarke felt like laughing, surprised as she was that Bellamy wasn’t reaming out either his sister or the nursing staff. It seemed in the last year he had reigned in some of that famous Blake sibling protectiveness.
Immediately she pressed her palm to her chest, feeling the familiar shape of the one of the two things she had left of him hidden under her scrubs. After taking a deep breath, she tried to walk forward, to step into the ER, but her feet wouldn’t move. Instead she paged Anya, telling her she was sick and she needed to bring in the on-call resident. Too tired to go home, Clarke curled up in one of the on-call room bunks, trying very hard to convince herself that Bellamy was only back for the holidays and would be gone again by New Years, so there was no sense in giving herself any semblance of hope.
She was the one who had broken up with him last Christmas, after all. A year later, and he had a new job in a new city, and probably a new somebody who loved him.
A tear slipped down her cheek, and she cursed the multi-colored string of lights illuminating the otherwise dark room, wondering how in the hell she was going to get through the holiday season without the one person who she had long ago but too that realized mattered to her most.
If someone had told Hux when he was six that he would find a family who loved him, he would have kicked them. At age six there was no such family in his future. His father, Brendol, was barely there as it was (and when he was there it was nothing but scathing comments); and his mother had walked out when he was two. The closest thing resembling a family back then was the nanny who watched him - and even she left when he turned ten.
So no, Hux wouldn’t have believed them at all.
His childhood was the epitome of pathetic. In elementary school no one bothered to sit with him at lunch on the bias of his ginger colored hair. It was a childish discrimination that eventually waned, but from grades one to three that was his reality. Along with the occasional teasing, which sometimes made him tear up a bit. But he never cried. According to his father good boys never shed a tear.