Garrett Epps

Garrett Epps is a contributing writer for The Atlantic. He teaches constitutional law and creative writing for law students at the University of Baltimore. His latest book is American Justice 2014: Nine Clashing Visions on the Supreme Court.
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With the Travel Ban, Federal Courts Face a New Legal Issue

March 21, 2017 If you’re ever sued, I tell my students, the lawyer you want is not the one who thumps the table and assures you that your case is open and shut. No, it’s the lawyer who sits quietly and then says, “We need to get ready, because the other side has...

Why Customs and Border Protection's ID Search of a Domestic Flight Is on Weak Legal Ground

March 8, 2017 The incident at John F. Kennedy Airport, where Customs and Border Protection Agents boarded an incoming flight from San Francisco and asked for—or demanded––ID from every passenger, has hit a nerve with many people—some of whom, like me, think that a demand that passengers exiting a domestic flight show “papers”...

Is the Southern Border a Constitution-Free Zone?

February 22, 2017 “No matter whether the Constitution follows the flag or not,” Finley Peter Dunne’s Mr. Dooley said long ago in an obsolete dialect, “the Supreme Court follows the election returns.” Both of these—the traveling flag and the election returns—formed a complicated subtext Tuesday at the first argument the Supreme Court has...

Will the Courts Find Trump's Travel Ban Unconstitutional?

February 6, 2017 President Trump can perhaps be forgiven for not understanding the quirks of federal District Court jurisdiction. Saturday he Tweeted, “Why aren't the lawyers looking at and using the Federal Court decision in Boston, which is at conflict with ridiculous lift ban decision?” The elementary reason is this: one judge—Judge Nathaniel...

Two Cases Could Limit or Enhance Trump's Ability to Engage in Mass Deportations

January 18, 2017 The Supreme Court sometimes seems like Plato’s cave—a place where events of the outside world cast only faint and distorted shadows. Nonetheless, no justice of the Court since at least John Marshall has taken the bench without a lively appreciation of presidential politics. Without it, you just don’t get there....

Testing Federal Power Over Immigration

October 25, 2016 It seems likely that the oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court on November 9 will interest immigration specialists but not the public at large. The issue—whether Congress can discriminate against U.S. citizen fathers in awarding citizenship to foreign-born children—is, for most people, pretty obscure. But if the evening of...

The Nerd’s Dream Guide to the U.S. Constitution

August 12, 2016 There is something exhilarating about watching a national election pivot on the hinge of a pocket Constitution. Last month, Khizr Khan, a naturalized American citizen who appeared before the Democratic National Convention with his wife, Ghazala, taunted the Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump by pulling out a well-thumbed pamphlet and...

Is Trump Guilty of Inciting Violence Against Clinton?

August 10, 2016 Here is the most positive thing that can be said about the Republican presidential nominee in August of 2016: He probably didn’t commit a federal felony yesterday. As surely everyone knows, Trump told an audience in Wilmington, North Carolina, that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton “wants to abolish—essentially abolish the Second...

The Smith v. Obama Case Asks the Courts' Opinion on the War Against ISIS

June 2, 2016 What is the most important responsibility of Congress? Is it protecting the security of the country, the integrity of its political system, and the lives of its military personnel by deciding when and how the U.S. should use military force? What if the president believed a military conflict was essential...

A Judge Shouldn’t Force Congress to Debate War

June 1, 2016 What is the most important responsibility of Congress? Is it protecting the security of the country, the integrity of its political system, and the lives of its military personnel by deciding when and how the U.S. should use military force? What if the president believed a military conflict was essential...

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