ACSBlog

  • October 3, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Ryan J. Suto, J.D., Government Relations Manager, Arab American Institute

    On September 24, the Trump White House released a new Presidential Proclamation effective October 18, which essentially makes permanent the temporary Muslim/refugee Ban the president signed earlier this year. The Proclamation, like Trump’s previous Muslim Ban actions, relies on the fundamental assumption that foreigners, and specifically Muslims and Arabs, pose a heightened threat. Arguing “...foreign nationals who may commit, aid, or support acts of terrorism, or otherwise pose a safety threat…” the Administration holds tightly to creating xenophobic fears, despite no existing evidence to show that foreign nationals commit crimes at greater rates than citizens.

    Whereas the temporary travel ban, EO 13780, included Iran, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, the Sept. 24 proclamation removed Sudan and added Chad, North Korea, and Venezuela. It also added nuance by providing a rationale to the Administration’s additions to the banned countries list, something we hadn’t seen with previous iterations.

  • October 3, 2017
    Guest Post

    by William Yeomans, Lecturer in Law, Columbia Law School

    *William Yeomans served 24 years in the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice. He is currently the Ronald Goldfarb Fellow at the Alliance for Justice and Lecturer in Law at Columbia Law School.

    Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke last week stated in a speech to oil industry executives that among Interior Department employees he “got 30 percent of the crew that’s not loyal to the flag.” He elaborated that they were not loyal to President Trump or to him. Zinke’s comments convey an attitude toward government service that is grounded in ignorance of the role of career government servants.

    First, Zinke, as did Trump in dealing with former FBI Director James Comey, equated “loyalty” to the president with loyalty to “the flag,” presumably meaning the country. He suggested that patriotism in federal employment requires loyalty to the president. In reality, of course, every federal employee takes an oath to uphold the Constitution and does not swear fealty to the occupant of the Oval Office or his appointees. Federal employees serve their country by defending the Constitution and enforcing duly enacted law.

  • October 2, 2017
    Guest Post

    by Gregg Ivers, Professor of Government, American University

    In early September 1957, Central High School in Little Rock became the focus of world-wide attention when Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus decided to deploy the National Guard to prevent the nine African American students who had applied and been chosen to integrate the school from entering the building. For a three week period, the Central High grounds resembled the set of a science fiction film of the era – upright American soldiers with bayonet-tipped rifles protecting innocent children from an alien force in their midst. Finally, on September 25th, the Little Rock Nine, now with the support of a federalized Arkansas National Guard and the 101st Airborne Division – activated and sent to Little Rock by President Dwight D. Eisenhower – were escorted into Central High to begin a school year that they and everyone else in Little Rock would never forget.

    The Little Rock crisis did not escape the attention of former Brooklyn Dodger Jackie Robinson. Just over nine years before, Robinson entered, almost overnight, into the lives of white America when he became the first African American to penetrate one of the most sacrosanct citadels of white supremacy – professional baseball. On April 15th, 1947, when Robinson jogged to first base on Opening Day at Ebbets Field, he did more than just break the color barrier in what was then America’s most popular sport. He destroyed it.

  • October 2, 2017
    Guest Post

    *This piece originally appeared on the EPI blog.

    by Heidi Shierholz, Senior Economist and Director of Policy, Economic Policy Institute

    Many financial institutions use forced arbitration clauses in their contracts to block consumers with disputes from banding together in court, instead requiring consumers to argue their cases separately in private arbitration proceedings. Embattled banking giant, Wells Fargo, made headlines by embracing the practice to avoid offering class-wide relief for its practices related to the fraudulent account scandal and another scandal involving alleged unfair overdraft practices.

    New data helps illuminate why these banks—and Wells Fargo in particular—prefer forced arbitration to class action lawsuits. We already knew that consumers obtain relief regarding their claims in just 9 percent of disputes, while arbitrators grant companies relief in 93 percent of their claims. But not only do companies win the overwhelming majority of claims when consumers are forced into arbitration—they win big.

  • October 2, 2017
    Guest Post

    by John M. Eubanks, Member, Motley Rice LLC, Petitioners’ Counsel in Jesner v. Arab Bank

    Imagine a situation where an international bank with a presence in Manhattan holds accounts for known terrorists and serves as the end-payor to beneficiaries of a fund created for the explicit purpose of supporting an armed uprising typified by suicide bombings and indiscriminate killing of civilians carried out by known terrorist organizations with whom the bank’s accountholders are directly affiliated. Then, picture this international bank being immune from lawsuits filed by the victims of these suicide bombings and indiscriminate killings solely on the basis of its corporate form. This is precisely the issue with which the Supreme Court will grapple in Jesner v. Arab Bank, to be argued before the Court on October 11, 2017. 

    Jesner addresses the same question that was raised in Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Co. during the October Term 2011. That question is whether the Alien Tort Statute (ATS),  creates a categorical bar to corporate liability for violations of the law of nations, or customary international law. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit – from which this appeal came – is the only federal court of appeals to determine that corporations are immune from the reach of the ATS, finding itself in conflict with the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the Seventh, Ninth, Eleventh, and District of Columbia Circuits. While the Supreme Court had the opportunity to decide this issue in Kiobel, the Court instead answered a distinct question of whether claims under the ATS are subject to the presumption against extraterritoriality – that is, laws do not cover conduct that takes part outside the territorial confines of the United States absent explicit language to that effect. The Supreme Court carved out a test for overcoming this presumption under the ATS – “where the claims touch and concern the territory of the United States, they must do so with sufficient force to displace the presumption against extraterritorial application.”