Thursday’s Forum

James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Scott says:

    Trump to US schools: Reopen or you may lose federal funds

    Determined to reopen America’s schools despite coronavirus worries, President Donald Trump threatened Wednesday to hold back federal money if school districts don’t bring their students back in the fall. He complained that his own public health officials’ safety guidelines are impractical and too expensive.

    Shortly afterward, Vice President Mike Pence announced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would be issuing new guidance next week “that will give all new tools to our schools.” The recommendations will keep students safe, he said, but “the president said today we just don’t want the guidance to be too tough. ”

    Raise your hand if you think this is helpful and will go over well in the suburbs.

  2. Jen says:

    Trump’s rally in NH has been billed as an outside event, but it’s being held inside an airport hangar. I am still visualizing people packed in, standing closely to one another.

    Is it the ventilation that qualifies this as an outdoor event? No one seems to have any idea what to expect.

    I’ll be doing a big, multi-week grocery shop that day, so I can stay hunkered down.

  3. Sleeping Dog says:

    Local restaurant is choosing to close while Trump is in Portsmouth, due to virus fears of the staff and owners.


    90% of school funding is state or local, the 10% that is Federal is mandated by Congress to be distributed as part of the appropriation. This is another hollow Tiny threat and yes, one that is self defeating.

  4. Sleeping Dog says:


    The HVAC systems in a hanger will be recirculating the air. They may choose to open the doors and depending on the hanger, it might be able to be opened on both ends.

    Note the governor won’t be attending and to my knowledge, no repug office holders have committed.

    Paging Senator Collins, Paging Senator Collins

  5. HarvardLaw92 says:

    Those interested should pay attention to SCOTUS today. There is an interesting (to me anyway) case, Jimcy McGirt v. Oklahoma, regarding whether Oklahoma could lose criminal jurisdiction over major crimes within a large part of the eastern half of the state.

    There is also the two rulings concerning Trump’s tax returns – Trump v. Mazars USA, LLP, consolidated with Trump v. Deutsche Bank AG (These concern the House of Representatives gaining access) and Trump v. Vance, which concerns whether a state grand jury can gain access. The tax returns themselves are quire secondary to the SOP issues in play here. These rulings are critical to the question of whether we will have co-equal branches of government exercising their constitutionally delineated functions, or an imperial presidency.

    I don’t expect this court to wade into creating the chaos that would result in essentially declaring half of Oklahoma to be a reservation, although from the standpoint of delayed justice I’d cheer if it did. The implications are simply too great to shoulder, IMO, and I expect them to punt / find a way to avoid it.

    With regard to the Trump cases, it’s difficult to tell, but if I had to make a bet, I’d bet that the House gains access while NY doesn’t. There is a reason, though, why I never bet on the outcome of a case at SCOTUS. Stay tuned – it promises to be an interesting day.

    There is also a rumor that one or two justices may retire after this term. Possible, but I remain doubtful.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Sleeping Dog: This is another hollow Tiny threat

    I’m not so sure it is all that hollow given that he was denied funds for his wall but stole them from defense appropriations anyway. At the very least his minions could hold those funds back for months or longer. I have no doubt that DeVos would do her absolute best to screw public schools out of the FED money, seeing as she has been fn’ public schools for years now.

  7. HarvardLaw92 says:


    I’m not sure it’s hollow either. Federal education funding is tied to students, i.e. the number of students enrolled, among other factors. It’s not that difficult to make a credible enough argument that school districts don’t require the funding, or as much funding, when there are no students in the building. This one I’d watch closely.

  8. JohnMcC says:

    @HarvardLaw92: If you have a minute or two to explain (in very simple words!) your expectation that the NY State AG could be denied access to Mr Trump financial information but the House Committee will be granted the same? I know nothing of the background but from following media had thought learned expectation was just opposite.

  9. Jim Brown 32 says:

    @Scott: Republicans value States Rights and local control– I shall await a stiff pushback against Trumps overreach while holding my breath naked in a tank of man-eating piranhas (who obviously hate women BTW)

  10. SKI says:


    With regard to the Trump cases, it’s difficult to tell, but if I had to make a bet, I’d bet that the House gains access while NY doesn’t. There is a reason, though, why I never bet on the outcome of a case at SCOTUS. Stay tuned – it promises to be an interesting day.

    I’d actually lean the other way but agree that I wouldn’t put any actual money on it.

    And yes, I think they will try anything to avoid reaching the technically correct decision in the OK case due to the implications.

  11. Jen says:


    There is also a rumor that one or two justices may retire after this term.

    I’ve been wondering about that. On the one hand, the chaos that would ensue if Trump tries to nominate and confirm justices in this environment would be considerable. On the other hand, I can see conservatives, esp. the Judicial Watch and Federalist Society types pushing to get young conservatives confirmed while they still have the chance.

  12. Teve says:


    unfortunately we will not cover the medicine that keeps you from throwing up from pain every month. but we have a good reason! a lady ate an apple in our favorite book

  13. HarvardLaw92 says:


    Asking a lawyer to use simple words and be brief … 😀

    Congress has a constitutionally delineated function to exert oversight with respect to the executive branch. That also implies that it is up to Congress – as a co-equal branch of government – to determine what material, and what degree of access to that material, it requires to exercise that function.

    It’s important in SCOTUS cases to look at the question(s) that are actually being asked of the court. Specifically:

    Mazars: Whether the Committee on Oversight and Reform of the U.S. House of Representatives has the constitutional and statutory authority to issue a subpoena to the accountant for President Trump and several of his business entities demanding private financial records belonging to the president.

    Deutsche: Whether the Committee on Financial Services and the Intelligence Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives have the constitutional and statutory authority to issue a subpoena to creditors for President Donald Trump and several of his business entities demanding private financial records belonging to the president.

    They aren’t asking the court whether Congress needs / requires the records. They’re asking the court if Congress has the authority to issue subpoenas. The fact that the presidency is involved is, at best, secondary to that question. The power of Congress to issue subpoenas is well established, both to exercise its oversight function and to pursue exercise of its legislative function. [McGrain v. Daugherty, 273 U.S. 135 (1927)]. What Trump’s lawyers are attempting to do is carve out an exception for the presidency, which directly targets SOP and congressional oversight. They’re basing that assertion on a pretext of motive (i.e. Congress has ulterior political motives in issuing the subpoena), but then too, motive alone is not sufficient to vitiate an investigation which had been instituted by a House of Congress if that assembly’s legislative purpose is being served [Watkins v. United States, 354 U.S. 178 (1957)].

    I think that they’ll side with the House here, both because ample precedent (at least 20 prior opinions that I can find) affords a great degree of deference to Congress in determining what it requires to exercise its constitutional functions, and because the arguments made by the president’s attorneys are just weak sauce, to be honest. “We acknowledge precedent blah blah blah but he’s special so precedent shouldn’t apply to him, and only him blah blah blah” is a non-starter IMO.

    I think that they’ll side against NY because there is no real immediacy involved in the subpoena. Doctrine (with which I disagree, but …) holds that presidents are immune from criminal process while seated in office. The corollary to that doctrine has to be that applicable statutes of limitation are equally tolled during the same period, so there is nothing presenting an issue of immediacy that compels the subpoena to be upheld NOW, as opposed to once he’s out of office. Ideally, that wouldn’t be the case, but I think that’s the direction that they’ll go in.

  14. OzarkHillbilly says:

    In early March, Antonio Rodriguez, a banquet waiter for 11 years at the luxurious Terranea resort in Palos Verdes, south of Los Angeles, was told he was being temporarily furloughed because of Covid-19. Rodriguez, 58, took that setback in stride, but then in mid-May he received a shocker – Terranea informed him he was being permanently laid off, even though the resort was planning to reopen in June.

    “I felt terrible knowing that I was going to lose my job and my benefits. I have three daughters, and now … how am I take care of them?” Rodriguez said. “I don’t know why they’re letting us go and hiring new people. They always say that we are family. This isn’t the way you treat family.”

    Some other well-known hotels in California, including the famed Chateau Marmont, have also told longtime employees they have lost their jobs permanently. Several hotels in Baltimore, Phoenix and Boston, including the Four Seasons in Boston, have taken similar moves, sometimes telling dismissed employees that they could reapply for their jobs and, if hired, start out as new employees. These steps have infuriated workers and quickly gotten the attention of many labor leaders and lawmakers.

    Surprise, surprise, surprise!

  15. Tyrell says:

    News you may have missed, or what the main stream news was hiding:
    “Odd, pink snow in Alps” (Cnet)
    “Massive Sahara dust plume moving into the southeast”(Conversation) This will cause brilliant red sunsets, hazy days, and could even help suppress tropical storms.
    But this dust could also be from outer space.
    “6.6 Megaquake hits Indonesia” (USGS)
    “Nishino Shima Volcano Ash Continues”
    “Yellowstone warning: More than a HUNDRED earthquakes strike volatile super-volcano site” (Express, UK). More than a hundred earthquakes hit site! If I was out that way, I would be getting out of there faster than Blalock’s bull
    No doubt about it, the Fire Rim is heating up!
    “I fell in to the burning ring of fire, I went down, down, down, and the flames got higher” (Cash)
    “Yet another blast reportedly damages factory in Iran, latest in series of blasts” (Israel Times)
    “Why do things keep blowing up in Iran?” (Slate) This is explosion #6. All have been connected in some way to nuclear facilities.
    “Yikes, hundreds of Portuguese Man o’ Wars Wash Up On Area Beaches” (WWAY 3). This is being seen in NC and SC beaches. I was in Myrtle Beach a few weeks ago, but luckily did not see these, although a few washed up a few miles away. We saw many fish schools coming through, close to shore, with some sharks.

  16. HarvardLaw92 says:


    I honestly do not see it happening. Thomas will die in his seat. There is no avenue, aside from some sort of catastrophic health problem, that will pry him out of it. The only other real candidate for departure is Alito, and I don’t see him leaving now either. He’s just now starting to get what he’s spent a long time waiting for. None of the others are likely to even be considering it.

    Worst case, assuming that both of them did, is no ideological shift in the court. I think some people just like to speculate about anything, however unlikely.

  17. Kathy says:


    I would lay a small wager no justices retire before November 3rd.

  18. Bill says:
  19. Bob@Youngstown says:

    In an apparent response to the Presidential desires, the CDC is preparing to modify its guidelines for school reopenings.
    Do you suppose that the FDA will modify it’s criteria for approving COVID treatments and vaccines to accommodate the president’s desires?

    * Presidential desires = reelection at any cost

  20. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    Trump lost both Tax Cases at the SCOTUS.
    Both the House and SDNY get his long hidden tax returns.
    Vote is 7-2 in the SDNY case.

  21. Tyrell says:

    @Bill: Jim Bakker?

  22. HarvardLaw92 says:


    Are you seeing this?? They sided with McGirt …

    *mind officially blown*

  23. Jen says:

    7-2 decision, the Manhattan District Attorney can have access to Trump’s tax returns.

    That’s gotta hurt.

  24. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:
    Perhaps this is the day Michael Graves-Reynolds becomes prescient…
    Trump should negotiate his resignation, immunity, and exile, with SDNY immediately if not sooner.

  25. Kathy says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:

    If I were at home, I’d break open the “GOOD NEWS, EVERYONE!” Prof, Farnsworth meme on Facebook.

  26. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl:
    I jumped the gun…SCOTUS punted the House case back to the lower court.
    But the bigger danger for Trump is the SDNY, and he lost that case…bigly.

  27. Michael Cain says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: They punted the SDNY case back to the lower court as well. No one is seeing tax returns before the election.

    OTOH, the Court has noted that the President is not a king.

  28. Daryl and his brother Darryl says:

    I must say I am happy that the SCOTUS is not compromised beyond reason.
    Trump must be livid that his two justices went against him.

  29. gVOR08 says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: Small correction, it’s the Manhattan DA who gets the tax records, not SDNY, which is the US Attorney. Pedantic, except that SDNY works for Bill Barr*, while Cy Vance Jr., the DA, works for the state.
    * Barr having recently fired Geoffrey Berman, the SDNY Prosecutor, but failing to put his own man in the slot over Berman’s second in command.

  30. SKI says:

    @HarvardLaw92: In a webex meeting so only the reality. haven’t read the opinion yet…

  31. grumpy realist says:

    @Daryl and his brother Darryl: I thought that the House didn’t get the tax forms but the State of NY did.

  32. HarvardLaw92 says:



    The treaties of 1833 (which set borders) and 1856 (which established that no Creek lands would ever be encompassed within or annexed by any state, as well as granting the Creek full jurisdiction and unrestricted self-government) remain in effect.

    Once a reservation has been established, only Congress may diminish or disestablish it, and it may only do so through an explicit expression of Congressional intent to do so.

    We’re aware of the cost and jurisdictional issues that will arise. We’re certain you will work them out.

    The biggest takeaway is that the court basically said “allotment had no effect on the reservation status of reservations”, which is how many of them lost much of their originally delineated land. They tossed the allotment argument out of the window.

    It opens the door for the other 4 nations to assert the continuing existence of their reservations as well. Essentially half of Oklahoma just became a reservation.

  33. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Both parties prevailed, both the House and the NY grand jury subpoenas will be enforced.

  34. Jen says:

    @grumpy realist: If I’m reading it correctly*, the Congressional case got remanded back to lower courts with the direction that prior decisions didn’t pay sufficient attention to separation of powers considerations. Basically, do your homework over, and do the reading this time.

    * IANAL

  35. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Damn. And I was soooo hoping for Kavanaugh’s resignation.

  36. Teve says:


    what might be more interesting than the convo we’re having is one about how people actually get blacklisted in industries, how there’s very little recourse when it happens even if it’s punitive or false, and how this is a problem because American workplaces are anti-democratic.

    i don’t think anyone would deny that this happens and that American work is rife with these kinds of anti-worker power dynamics but it gets elided bc of ideological fights between powerful liberals and powerful reactionaries arguing about their own status.

  37. Teve says:


    reckoning with this in any real way would require power to be taken away from bosses, because it would require a system in which all grievances are heard transparently, everyone accused of wrongdoing would be able to fully respond, and people don’t get swept away

    that redirects a lot of power away from one or two decision-makers and toward other forms of oversight that probably wouldn’t place profits and productivity first, and that’s what workers need. so of course already powerful people want to argue about other things!

  38. HarvardLaw92 says:


    Basically yes. “Reexamine these issues within the context of the framework we just laid out, and make a decision”

    Anything short of the subpoenas being quashed, which didn’t happen, is a win.

  39. EddieInCA says:

    Furthering my thesis that Trump is truly exploding the GOP, a poll came out today showing Trump beating Biden by three points…

    …in Alaska.

    3 points.

    For comparison, Hillary lost Alaska by 15 points in 2016.

  40. Michael Cain says:

    @HarvardLaw92: A question I sometimes ask is, “How would things be changed if the membership of the Supreme Court were required to represent experience from as many of the Circuit Courts as possible, rather than being incredibly dominated by justices from Circuits in the northeast urban corridor?” The decision in Arizona v. Arizona a few years ago surprised the snot out of East Coast pundits when Kennedy (9th Circuit) sided with the use of ballot initiatives. All of the states in the 9th Circuit are strong ballot initiative states. Now Gorsuch (10th Circuit) sides with the tribes. If “stunned silence” is a thing on a live blog, that’s what happened at SCOTUSblog this morning when the ruling was released. Legal disputes between tribes and states are a real thing in 10th Circuit states. I keep waiting for a decision in the interstate water case Texas v. New Mexico and Colorado, which has the potential to heavily impact state water laws in the American West, and wonder if the decision might turn out differently if experience from all of the 5th, 9th, and 10th Circuits were represented.

  41. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jen: I’m sorry Jen, but I’ve run out of GAFs and forgot to pick up more at the store yesterday, so I can’t do anything for the faithful. However, I do wish you andyour family well and hope you find everything that you need to hole up at home until this uptick has passed in a few days.

  42. SKI says:

    @HarvardLaw92: Got through the opinion but not the whole dissent yet and it strikes me as authentically Gorsuch to be so adherent to the text. And it is a compliment to him that he is consistent here in much the way it highlights the disingenuousness of the other “textualists” who ended up on the other side because of the way the result’s potential impact.

  43. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Michael Cain:

    I was shocked. It never occurred to me that they’d remotely be brave enough to impose chaos (and Sharp v. Murphy does just that), but they did.

    I saw a LR article once, which I can’t find now, proposing that the court be comprised of 13 justices, one from each circuit (1 through 11, DC and the Federal). There are pros and cons, but I generally like the approach. Even as one of those Northeast Urban Corridor folks 🙂

  44. HarvardLaw92 says:


    Agreed. I can’t say that I always, or even often, agreed with his rulings while he was on the 10th Circuit, but I can’t not have respect for him. He believes what he believes and remains true to it, even when it’s uncomfortable.

  45. sam says:
  46. flat earth luddite says:

    “There is no such thing as overkill. There is only ‘FIRE’ and ‘RELOAD’.”

  47. Monala says:

    Christian camp in Missouri closes after 82 campers and staff test positive for Covid-19. Link

  48. Monala says:



    When Kanakuk Kamps, a prominent network of Christian camps in Missouri, opened their five overnight camps on May 30, parents could feel assured by what they read in camp materials that protocols were organized, and in place, to keep children and staff safe amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Then, on June 26, families were notified by mass-email that the camp known as “K-2,” in Lampe, had two positive cases. Two days later the number was 42. Then 82. The Stone County Health Department is monitoring the outbreak, but the people really forced to deal with the fallout are the families themselves.

    Like other sleep-away camps around the country still open this summer, Kanakuk had recommended pre-camp quarantine, a form of social distancing on site, enhanced sanitation practices, daily temperature checks and custom face coverings provided for campers. But it’s impossible to plan for a cluster. In Texas, the Pine Cove Camp also experienced a smaller outbreak this week and announced it would be closing for some sessions.

    Although the first case was reported on June 26th, the camp didn’t officially close until July 1, and some kids weren’t picked up until July 3rd. Note also the exponential spread, from 2 to 42 to 82 cases in a few days.

  49. flat earth luddite says:

    Couldn’t get the link past the Cosmic Spaghetti Monster, but this morning’s Patheos blog from Freelance Christianity had an interesting take on Fearless Leader having gotten his wall… since he’s restricting entry into the US due to COVID, and the rest of the world wants to keep us out…

  50. flat earth luddite says:

    Thanks for the entertainment tonight, folks! For my parting contribution today, I direct your attention to the Bring a Trailer website, where, with 5 days remaining in the auction, there’s a Peel 50 Canadian export (i.e., w/ a heater) that’s already up to $35k. As Cracker would say, WA!

  51. Kurtz says:


    Asking a lawyer to use simple words and be brief …

    Good thing I’m not a lawyer, eh? :-p

  52. Kurtz says:


    “Insane after Coronavirus?”

    This is excellent. The question is which part of this piece is more surreal, the hallucinations of the COVID-19 afflicted author or the mentions of the schizophrenic actual conspiracy theories floating around.

    ‘Florida and Ohio, man,’ the barista at the local café said to my husband, when he asked about the tourist trade. ‘People here at least acknowledge that it’s real. But people from Florida and Ohio don’t even seem to think it’s happening.’ Having lived in both places, I believe him: I have long had a theory that the surrealism that has overtaken the political landscape in America can be traced back to the poisoned ground of Ohio Facebook.

  53. Just nutha ignint cracker says:
  54. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @flat earth luddite: cute car!!!

    ETA: Oops, my bad, not a car, a motorcycle disguised as a pseudo car.

  55. An Interested Party says:

    Perhaps this is the game that John Roberts is playing…

  56. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @An Interested Party:

    A bit over the top. He essentially expects the court to rule for political reasons – just in line with his own agenda – no differently than those he’s excoriating for the same, which makes him equally out of touch.

    The simple fact is that these nine exist in a cocoon of the law, free from political concerns. They barely even use email (I know of two who still refuse to utilize it). It’s quite impossible for an outsider to grasp just how academic, how collegial, in nature their environment is, how scope locked on this word or the meaning of that word it is. In my entire time in the building, I never had a political discussion. They’re frowned upon, and nobody really has the time to engage in the extraneous anyway. I’d have no problem asserting – indeed I will – that each of these rulings was handed down based on legal reasoning, not political considerations. Where we might differ about that reasoning is grounded in different theories of the law, not differences of politics.

  57. HarvardLaw92 says:


    Lol, touché