In The Atlantic, Epps says Trump has ‘broken the Constitution’

Professor Garrett Epps

Professor Garrett Epps

The day after Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, Professor Garrett Epps wrote in The Atlantic that “we the people” had just poured a “national libation of Kool-Aid” and demanded that everybody drink.

Wrote Epps: “I won’t.”

In “Donald Trump Has Broken the Constitution,” Epps says that adherence to a constitution requires “a commitment to procedure.” Though he says he found the impeachment of President Bill Clinton “a ludicrous comic-opera coup d’etat” and President George Bush’s war in Iraq “at best reckless and at worst insane,” Epps notes that constitutional forms were followed in both cases.

But, he says, Trump – who ran on a platform of “relentless, thoroughgoing rejection of the Constitution itself” — is something else again: “[T]here is hardly a provision of the Bill of Rights or later amendments he did not explicitly promise to override.”

Of the 60 million Americans who voted for Trump, Epps said: “I deny their right to give Trump my rights or those of others who cannot defend themselves. No result is legitimate that threatens the Constitution its very promise of the ‘blessings of liberty.’ No transient plurality, no matter how angry, has the power to strip minorities of equal status and protection; no mass of voters, no matter how frightened, has the power to vote away the democratic future of their children and their children’s children.”

Trump is not constrained by either the form or the “clear values” of the U.S. Constitution, Epps says: “These values don’t bind Donald Trump; norms of decency do not apply; he shrugs off the very burden of fact itself. Like dictators of the Old World, he uses his mass media power to lie, to insult, to strip individuals of their dignity, to commit the grossest libels of religious and national groups, and to encourage persecution, torture, and public violence.

“[…] He is, in other words, a figure out of authoritarian politics, not the American tradition; and a democratic constitution that empowers such a leader has misfired badly.”

Epps contributed several other essays to The Atlantic last month:

“No, Electors in States Trump Won Should Not Vote for Clinton” (Nov. 11)

“The Signal Sent by Picking Jeff Sessions for Attorney General” (Nov. 21)

“The Electoral College Wasn’t Meant to Overturn Elections” (Nov. 27)

“The ‘Of Mice and Men’ Rule for Texas Executions” (Nov. 28)

Learn more about Professor Epps.

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Tiefer op-ed: Trump could use a primer on federal regulations

Professor Charles Tiefer has been busy writing about and commenting on matters involving President-elect Donald Trump.

In an op-ed in today’s Daily Record, Tiefer writes about Trump’s election vow to do away with up to 70 percent of federal regulations and offers the president-elect a “primer” on what it takes to create a regulation — and what it takes to unwind one.

“Enacting … a regulation is an elaborate process that involves extensive, careful fact-finding and the evaluation of policies based on a full public record,” Tiefer wrote. “It can take years. Undoing or modifying a regulation involves the same kind of process and can also take years.”

Read “What Trump should know about regulations.”

Meanwhile, Tiefer discussed Trump’s Washington, D.C., hotel headache in and Both news reports focused on Trump’s stake in the recently-opened Trump International Hotel, which is housed in the government-owned Old Post Office building on Pennsylvania Avenue.

ABC reported Dec. 1 that the lease negotiated by Trump runs for hundreds of “complicated and dreadfully dull pages” – before noting that Clause 37.19 at the top of Page 103 has become a matter of great interest among experts on government contracting law.

Said ABC: “If some of the experts are correct — a big if — the first 43 words of this clause could force Trump to unload his equity stake in the hotel just down the street from the White House. The key part: No ‘elected official of the Government of the United States’ shall be ‘admitted to any share or part of this Lease.’”

Tiefer, who served as the general counsel of the U.S. House of Representatives for 11 years before he began teaching at UB in the mid-1990s, said that the contract language was “unambiguous” and that Trump would be in violation of the contract when he becomes president.

Trump has said he would transfer control of his many business interests to his children, but contracting experts say the hotel still poses a problem for him. They noted that President Trump could stage press conferences and other events there, which could raise the profile – and the value – of the hotel. Also, they said, foreign heads of state could stay at the hotel as a way to ingratiate themselves with the president.

“It’s kind of an easy way to buy the appearance that you have a connection with the Trump organization,” Tiefer told CNN in “Trump’s Washington hotel could become ethical headache” (Nov. 15).

Learn more about Professor Tiefer.

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A Giving Tuesday update: Law school contributed $8,035

Thanks to all for their generous Giving Tuesday contributions — law school students, faculty, staff and alumni contributed 50 gifts that totaled $8,035. Way to go!

University-wide, Giving Tuesday contributions came to more than $22,000, a 53 percent increase over last year, the UB Foundation reports. The number of donations increased by 158 percent, with gifts coming from as far away as Texas and Wisconsin.

For every gift, a bow was stuck on the Gordon Plaza statue of Edgar Allan Poe.

As the writer himself might say (if only he weren’t dead), keep it up for evermore!

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It’s Giving Tuesday — support the School of Law today!


Click here or on the image above to donate to the UB School of Law.

Support the School of Law as part of the University’s annual Giving Tuesday fundraising drive. Make a general donation to the School of Law Annual Giving Fund or make your gift in memory or in honor of someone.

Gifts made in memory of Rose McMunn will go toward an annual award to be given to a deserving member of the UB School of Law staff. To direct your funds here, select “In Memory of” and type in “Rose McMunn.”

Gifts made in honor of Professor Arnie Rochvarg will be used for scholarships to enable students to obtain the excellent, practical education for which UB is known. At the close of the campaign, a room in the Angelos Law Center will be named in honor of Professor Rochvarg. To direct your funds here, select “In Honor of” and type in Prof. Rochvarg.”

Likewise, gifts made in honor of Professor Byron Warnken will be used for scholarships to enable students to obtain the excellent, practical education for which UB is known. At the close of the campaign, the Moot Courtroom in the Angelos Law Center will be named in honor of Professor Warnken. To direct your funds here, select “In Honor of” and type in Prof. Warnken.”

Click here to view a videotaped message from Dean Ronald Weich and to learn more about #GivingTuesday and UB’s annual “Bow on Poe” competition.

If you have questions, please contact Michelle Junot, the law school’s director of alumni relations, at or 410.837.4142.

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The envelope please … 1L ‘Be Brief’ winners are announced

Director of Academic Support Claudia Diamond writes that the results of the annual “Be Brief” competition are in! The challenge for 1L students was to describe their first semester at UB in just six words.

2L Greg Waterworth and a group of upper-level students anonymously reviewed this year’s entries and selected the following winners:

Honorable Mention: “Recurrent cold calls haunt my daydreams.” – Adrianne Blake
3rd place: “What’s actually going on right now?” – Lauren Fleming
2nd place: “Which floor has a men’s bathroom?!” – Christopher Thibeault
1st place: “I am not a reasonable person.” – Ishar Singh

Dean Ronald Weich will take the winners to lunch this spring to reward their wit and brevity.

Congratulations to Ishar, Christopher, Lauren and Adrianne!

Here are previous years’ winners and their entries:

3rd place: “How does one The Blue Book?” – Greg Waterworth
2nd place: “Attending catering events because I’m poor.” – Katrina Smith
1st place: “Been to war, that was easier.” – Justin Dandois

3rd place: “Tort down for what, Gregory Dolin.” – Frank Falatko
2nd place: “No one warned me about Warnken.” – Thomas Barnes
1st place: “Keep friends close, Black’s Law closer.” – Tommy Donahue

3rd place: “Never mind, I’ll take the stairs.” – Stella Park
2nd place: “The glass elevator skipped me! Again!” – Esther Grenness
1st place: “One-L, can’t wait to be Done-L” – Emily Greene

Honorable mention: “Discovered new hours in the day.” – Chris Walker
3rd place: “‘The Paper Chase’ is a documentary.” – Allan Johnson
2nd place: “I’d like some more coffee please.” – Jon Dunn
1st place: “How many days till winter break?” – Nida Kanwal

3rd place: “Do six words need a citation?” – Zvi Friedman
2nd place: “My drinking group has studying problems.” – Dave Trojanowski
1st place: “Buh bye Facebook and hello Bluebook.” – Gina Dyson

Honorable mention: “Plato survived Socrates; so will I.” – Ellen Cobb
3rd place: “This ‘reasonable person’ needs a beer.” – Samantha Healy
2nd place: “Baltimore looks fun from library windows.” – Emily Kolas
1st place: “What do you mean ‘it depends’?” – Eurie Choi

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Tiefer blasts Trump’s choice of Nikki Haley, Donald McGahn

Writing in last week, Professor Charles Tiefer discussed President-elect Donald Trump’s picks for United Nations ambassador and White House counsel – and found both completely unsuited for the positions.

Trump’s choice of Nikki Haley as ambassador to the United Nations shows Trump’s “contempt” for conducting foreign affairs through the UN and for multilateral organizations in general, Tiefer said.

Haley, a former South Carolina governor and legislator, has no experience in foreign affairs or national security matters, Tiefer noted: “Look at biographies of her and you find she is a cipher on foreign affairs. Of course. Foreign affairs does not come up in the South Carolina state legislature. Foreign affairs does not come up for a South Carolina governor.”

Trump’s choice of Haley, who was born into a Sikh family, was simply a “throw-away for a visible symbol of his supposed inclusiveness,” Tiefer said.

Read “Trump’s Choice of Nikki Haley Is a Slap to the U.N. and Pandering to Asian-Americans” (Nov. 23, 2016).

Tiefer also minced no words in his assessment of Donald McGahn, Trump’s pick for White House counsel. Even though Trump’s manifold business interests pose conflict-of-interest challenges, Trump appointed as counsel a “totally partisan politico, more like a consiglieri to the Godfather than a source of sound ethical counsel.”

McGahn is a far cry from John Dean, President Richard Nixon’s White House counsel, Tiefer said: “[T]here came a time when [Dean] warned Nixon that Watergate was a cancer on the Presidency. He came clean with Congress and the prosecutors. Since then he has become a widely respected author and commentator. One can be Dean’s type and at some point go straight and tell the President what he should do to be honest. Or, one can be McGahn’s type.”

Read “McGahn Is Troubling Pick for White House Counsel Given Trump’s Conflict-of-Interest Issues” (Nov. 25, 2016).

Tiefer was general counsel (acting) of the House of Representatives, serving 15 years in that office and in its Senate counterpart, before he began teaching at UB in the mid-1990s. He is a regular contributor to

Learn more about Professor Tiefer.

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LL.M. LOTUS graduate is profiled in The National Jurist

Kiyanoush Razaghi, LL.M. LOTUS ’15, is profiled in the Fall 2016 issue of The National Jurist.

Read the profile here.

A native of Iran, Razaghi was 29 when he was barred from returning home from the United States, where he’d spent a summer taking a course in human rights advocacy. Though he was unable to practice law in the U.S., he was not ready to accept his friends’ suggestions that he consider becoming a truck or bus driver.

“I went to law school because I was thinking that, as a lawyer, I could be more useful for my society in terms of advocating for equal rights for everybody and helping the marginalized people,” Razaghi said in the article.

Fast forward a few years: After graduating from UB with an LL.M. in the Law of the United States, Razaghi took part in the Law Entrepreneurs for Access Program, or LEAP, the only legal incubator in the Maryland-Washington, D.C., area. LEAP is a project of Civil Justice Inc. and the law schools at UB and the University of Maryland.

Today Razaghi runs his own firm in Baltimore and Rockville.

Learn more about the LL.M. LOTUS program.

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