Smart Ideas: A Case of Mueller

Solicitor General Noel Francisco
AP Photo/Cliff Owen
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April 24, 2018, 8 p.m.

Is Francisco already making Trump's case at SCOTUS?

Peter M. Shane, writing for The Atlantic

The Supreme Court heard arguments Monday in a case that could indicate how it would react to the firing of Special Counsel Robert Mueller. The case, Raymond J. Lucia v. Securities and Exchange Commission, is on its face about “whether SEC administrative-law judges are ‘officers’ or ‘employees’ of the United States.” More importantly, however, the Court may take up the issue of whether “administrative-law judges must be dischargeable at will or whether, as is now the case, they may be fired only for ‘good cause.’” Noel Francisco, the solicitor general, has “explicitly argued” for the court “to address the removal question.” The Supreme Court granted him “permission to share in the oral argument,” even though the case does not revolve around the removal issue. The same “good cause” provisions protect Mueller, so Francisco’s arguments are “the latest official salvo” in the battle over whether the president has the “constitutional authority to fire officials at will.”

Social-media mining a valuable policing tool

Christopher Raleigh Bousquet, writing for Wired

According to a 2016 survey, roughly three-quarters of police mine social media for intelligence and tips. This is good police work. “Social-media sites are full of data that can make police interventions more effective,” like “posts about crimes in progress” or “even live videos of crimes.” Future tools should be “narrowly tailored” to comply with the Constitution, and police should put “more emphasis on privacy.” Because by identifying “social-media activity that does in fact correlate with crime,” police can design initiatives to better “target these posts only.”

Minimum wage vs. the gig economy

Kathy Kristof, writing for the Los Angeles Times

Worker protections have lagged behind in the gig economy, and traditional protections like a minimum wage “may not provide the right answers.” A minimum wage “would likely lead to restricting worker hours, reducing the very flexibility that appeals to most gig workers. (This is ultimately what happened at San Francisco food-delivery service Sprig before it shut down last year.) But some protections are needed. At minimum, gig workers should be able to” report wage theft and “platforms should be required to be forthright about how they pay workers and the risks those workers bear when signed onto the platform.”

State Department staff shortage a serious issue

The Editors, writing for the Washington Examiner

The State Department is facing a serious personnel shortage, even beyond the vacancy at the top. “The Trump administration bears blame itself for its continuing failure to appoint talented officials to crucial roles at the department’s Foggy Bottom headquarters.” The root of this is the failed tenure of Rex Tillerson, but now that he’s gone, Trump “has responsibility for dragging the department out of the fog.” Once the Senate confirms Mike Pompeo, he and Trump “should pick up the phone and engage young career diplomats in harnessing the diplomatic wind. While the two conservatives are not popular with many in the liberal-leaning department, they would win quick favor by empowering those who were underutilized by Tillerson and, previously, John Kerry’s control-freak management style.”

Mike Pompeo at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing on his nomination to be secretary of State on April 12 AP Photo/Alex Brandon
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