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Vox Sentences: SEE YOU IN COURT indeed, Mr. President

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The once and future travel ban makes it to the Supreme Court, plus more Comey news and Ireland gets a new Taoiseach.


The Trump administration is antsy for summer

supreme court Karen Bleier/AFP/Getty Images
  • On Thursday night, the Trump administration asked the Supreme Court to let its travel ban (put on hold in a pair of rulings in federal court) go into effect over the summer. [BuzzFeed News / Chris Geidner]
  • To accomplish that goal, the administration asked SCOTUS not only for an appeal of the Fourth Circuit’s decision last week keeping the ban on entries from six majority-Muslim countries on hold (which would happen when the court reconvenes in fall). It also asked them to put the Fourth Circuit ruling on ice ASAP while the court made its decision on the appeal — and it asked the Court to put on hold a separate injunction against the travel ban, currently being considered in the Ninth Circuit, even before the circuit court has made its decision.
  • It’s an unusually aggressive move. But the reasoning is pretty clear: The Supreme Court goes on summer recess at the end of June, so this would be the last chance the Trump administration had to put the travel ban into effect until October or later. [Vox / Dara Lind]
  • The Court may or may not be as convinced of the urgency. It’s asked for the groups suing the government to submit briefs by June 12 — which is quicker than usual, but also brings us even closer to the end of the term. [Neal Katyal via Twitter]
  • There are probably four votes on the Court to hear the case in fall. But the stays — both of which the government would need approved to enforce the ban over the summer — need five votes, and it’s not at all clear the government has that many. [NYT / Adam Liptak]
  • To be clear: Even though the administration has lost consistently in the lower courts, there may be five votes in the Supreme Court (the four conservatives + Justice Anthony Kennedy, presumably) willing to agree that the travel ban is constitutional. [USA Today / Alan Gomez]
  • But they may not be willing to make that decision so quickly — especially when that means staying a decision that’s still pending in a lower court, which is pretty dang untraditional. [Vox / Dara Lind]
  • More likely, the Trump administration’s aggressive requests for a stay will simply persuade the Court to agree to hear both cases — both the one the Trump administration lost last week and the one it’s still waiting to hear back from the Ninth Circuit on — on an “expedited” schedule in September. [Josh Blackman]
  • That option would have the bonus of rescuing the Trump administration from a possible Legal Nightmare Scenario™: The Ninth Circuit could make a ruling that forced the Trump administration to carry out the “review” that was supposed to happen during the travel ban over the summer — keeping the ban on hold, but preventing the administration from being able to go to the Supreme Court to reanimate it. [Take Care Blog / Amir Ali]
  • There is, however, another Legal Nightmare Scenario™ for the administration, raised by law professor Marty Lederman on Friday. It’s possible to interpret the wording of the current travel ban to say that the ban expires in mid-June whether or not it ever went into effect. The Supreme Court might not agree with this interpretation — but if it did, it could decide that the ban is simply dead by expiration. [Just Security / Marty Lederman​]

Comey one, Comey all

President Trump shakes FBI director James Comey’s hand. Pool/Getty
  • As it stands Friday, former FBI Director James Comey — you know, the one who got fired last month because he was a “nutjob” whose investigation into the ties between the Trump campaign and Russia was causing “pressure” — is scheduled to testify Thursday morning before the Senate Intelligence Committee, in both an open session and a closed session. [Reuters / Mark Hosenball and Warren Stroebel]
  • Comey won’t speak to investigators in the Russia probe, now led by independent counsel Robert Mueller, until after he’s testified publicly. But he and Mueller have met to go over the parameters of what he can say publicly without jeopardizing the investigation. [CNN / Eric Lichtblau]
  • High on the agenda — to the consternation of some Senate Republicans, like Lindsey Graham, who think that if President Trump isn’t himself suspected of contact with Russia, he should be kept out of it — is a reported memo Comey wrote at the FBI, in which he depicted a conversation with Trump in which Trump appeared to ask Comey to be lenient with ex-National Security Adviser Mike Flynn. [Washington Examiner / Todd Shepherd]
  • But here’s why this is all “as it stands” — the Trump administration could try to intervene and prevent Comey from testifying, using the principle of executive privilege. [Reuters / Jan Wolfe]
  • In general, executive privilege doctrine means the president’s conversations with advisers are secret. [NYT / Matt Apuzzo and Michael S. Schmidt]
  • But it’s usually used to prevent current officials from having to testify on things they don’t want to talk about — not to stop former officials, who want to testify, from doing so. [Eric Columbus via Twitter]
  • (There’s also something more than a little awkward about Trump claiming that his interactions with Comey were secret, when he’s been so loose-lipped about the Comey saga himself.)
  • Trump can’t just say “executive privilege” and make Comey disappear, either. If Comey doesn’t agree not to show up — and there’s no reason to think he would — Trump would have to get Senate Intelligence Chair Richard Burr, who invited Comey, to agree to uninvite him. Or he’d have to get a court order barring Comey from showing up, which would be an extremely eyebrow-raising move. [Just Security / Kate Brannen and Andy Wright]
  • Even if he did manage to stop Comey from testifying before the Senate, he can’t really stop him from speaking to Mueller. If Trump isn’t just threatening to bar Comey from testifying because he hates it when other people get attention on television — if the president actually has something to hide — he’s only going to be able to delay it, not prevent it, from getting out there. [NYT / Charlie Savage​]

Taoiseach shocker

Ryder Cup Press Conference Photo by Patrick Bolger/Getty Images
  • It's official: Leo Varadkar has won the leadership election for Fine Gael (pronounced “fin-uh gayle”), Ireland's ruling party, and is set to become prime minister (or Taoiseach, pronounced “tee-shock”) when the Irish parliament (whose lower and most powerful house is called the Dáil Éireann, pronounced "doyle air-uhn") reconvenes on June 13. [CNN / Kara Fox]
  • Varadkar's selection marks a lot of firsts: He's Ireland's youngest-ever leader, at 38, the first person of color to become Taoiseach (he's half-Indian), and the first openly gay Taoiseach too; he came out of the closet in 2015. [BBC]
  • But Fine Gael is still a center-right party at heart, and Varadkar's actual policy platform is fairly conservative. He only supports limited liberalization of Ireland's extremely strict abortion ban, and identifies as "right-of-centre on economic issues.” [Irish Times / Pat Leahy]
  • He also has a reputation for being tough on welfare recipients from his current position as minister for social protection. He launched a high-profile ad campaign to encourage people to report suspected cases of welfare fraud. [The Journal / Christina Finn]
  • Varadkar actually finished substantially behind Housing Minister Simon Coveney in the vote held of Fine Gael members, with 35 percent of the vote to Coveney’s 65. But Varadkar’s greater support among members of parliament made up for it. [Fine Gael]
  • There have only been three openly LGBTQ world leaders before Varadkar. Iceland's Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir became the first when she was chosen as prime minister in 2009, followed by Belgium's Elio di Rupo in 2011 and Luxembourg's Xavier Bettel in 2013; Bettel is the one of those three still in office. [NBC News / Bethia Kwak]
  • Varadkar's term won't be easy. Fine Gael has only 50 seats out of 158 in the Dáil, and is leading a highly unstable minority government. It has a "confidence and supply" deal with its archrivals Fianna Fáil (pronounced "fee-uh-nuh foyl") to get budgets passed and keep the government in office. But at any moment Fianna Fáil could pull out of the deal and trigger new elections. [NYT / Ed O’Loughlin]
  • If all these Gaelic terms are confusing, be sure to check out the BBC’s excellent pronunciation guide for Irish government terms. [BBC / Jo Kim​]

Miscellaneous

  • How Jonathan Goldsmith, Dos Equis' "Most Interesting Man in the World," became close friends with the Most Powerful Man in the World: President Obama. [Politico Mag / Jonathan Goldsmith]
  • Two Presbyterian pastors came to pray with Donald Trump before his inauguration. They ended up having to explain to him that they weren’t evangelical, but were still Christian. (Donald Trump describes himself as a Presbyterian.) [CNN / M.J. Lee]
  • This is a hilarious column about cleaning the house, and it might just save your marriage. (Seriously.) [NYT / Helen Ellis]
  • Freakouts about automation are nothing new. Back in 1958, there was widespread fear that technological change would imminently cause mass disemployment. [Politico Mag / Rick Wartzman]
  • Katie Orzehowski had a miscarriage, but went back to work at Walmart while she was still bleeding, because she was worried she'd be fired otherwise. [NYT / Rachel Abrams]

Verbatim


Watch this: How bicycles boosted the women’s rights movement

Susan B. Anthony said that the bicycle did "more to emancipate women than anything else in the world." [Vox / Dean Peterson]


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