By Rob Abruzzese, Legal Editor
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
In an effort to keep up with questions arising from President Donald Trump's actions and executive orders, Brooklyn Law School has started a series of free "legal lunches" that are open to students as well as the general public.
The first pop-up class on Wednesday, titled "Executive Power: Orders, Appointments and Regulations" was hosted by Vice Dean William Araiza and professor Sabeel Rahman and drew nearly 50 people, mostly students.
“If there is a silver lining amid the storm clouds the president has stirred up, it is that our Constitution and the rule of law have become central in this increasingly urgent grand civics lesson,” said BLS Dean Nicholas Allard. “I am especially proud of the work our Brooklyn Law School faculty and students are doing in our pop-up classes, studying the applicable laws and regulations relating to the administration’s actions, providing legal advice and representation to those in need.
“Lawyers are once again lifting high our nation’s rule book with an energy and zeal not witnessed for decades,” Allard continued. “They stand shoulder to shoulder with citizens from all walks of life, and with those who would be our newest citizens, pledging themselves one and all to preserve, protect and defend our Constitution — and the republic itself.”
The pop-up class lasted roughly an hour. Some students came late, others left early, but everyone was engrossed in the topic. Many were active participants in a discussion afterward with many eager to find answers to their questions, such as what happens if the president violates the law, but a Republican-led Congress refuses to provide oversight?
“If you remember Jack Nicholson in the movie ‘Mars Attacks,’ the line he gave was, 'You still have two branches of government working for you and that ain't bad,’” Araiza said. “Well, now maybe we only have one branch working for us, the judiciary, and there has been a lot of talk of it stepping up more than it otherwise would in light of the presumed unwillingness for Congress to take its role seriously.”
When one student wondered how quickly the judiciary might be able to respond to some actions, the professors reminded them of how quickly it was able to react in response to the “Muslim ban.” The discussion also got into what rights governmental agencies have in determining and carrying out laws and what rights states and the minority party in Congress has to defy presidential orders.
“The executive power is incredibly broad and there is a ton of discretion,” Rahman stressed at the conclusion of the talk. “For all of the legal losses that the administration has faced there is another world in which they get 95 percent of what they want perfectly legally and they don't lose in court.
“Remember, though, that case law is a product of crisis,” Rahman said. “Every case you read is an attempt to solve some controversy, dispute — and in some cases — really severe crisis. Law making happens in periods of extreme tension. We might well see lots of new law that changes the way the executive power functions, potentially.”
There are currently three more legal lunches scheduled for February and March. The next one, "Trump and Religion," will be hosted by professors Nelson Tebbe and Susan Herman and will take place at the Brooklyn Law School on February 23. Other legal lunches are expected to be announced later. Visit BrookLaw.edu for more information on those and future talks.