Transcript of OA322: Blackouts, Taxes & House Rules

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[Show Introduction]

Thomas:         Hello and welcome to Opening Arguments, this is episode 322.  I’m your host Thomas Smith, that over there is Andrew Torrez.  How you doin’, Andrew?

Andrew:         I am fantastic, Thomas!  You know, one of the things that I love the most about my recording studio, which is located in my basement, is that it is served by electricity. So apropos of nothing, how are you doing?

Continue reading “Transcript of OA322: Blackouts, Taxes & House Rules”

OA322: Blackouts, Taxes & House Rules

Today’s episode breaks down the recent news relating to (1) legal efforts to subpoena Donald Trump’s taxes, (2) the latest kerfuffle over the standing House rules and whether the impeachment inquiry is “unconstitutional” and “illegal” (it isn’t), with a bonus (3) rant about PG&E’s blackouts — excuse me, “public safety power shutoff events” in Northern California. Phew!

We begin with a discussion surrounding PG&E’s decision to shut off power for up to five days, affecting potentially two million people. These blackouts will have a tremendous economic and social cost — and may cost lives, as well. Why are they happening? What’s the law? Can we do anything about it? Listen and find out!

Then, it’s time for a deep dive into breaking legal news this week. You may have heard that a court ordered the release of Trump’s tax returns, and then that order was immediately appealed and blocked. What does it all mean and why? We dive deeply into this issue, and on the way you’ll learn about Younger abstention, § 1983 cases, and much, much more!

After that, it’s time for a look at the latest goalpost-moving excuse by the Republicans, this time the honestly-not-very-good argument that the impeachment inquiry is “illegal” unless authorized by the entire House of Representatives. Find out why this just isn’t so.

Then, it’s time for a follow-up #T3BE to last week’s child-on-thin-ice. This time, we want to know: can her parents sue the day care? Listen and find out!

Upcoming Appearances

None! If you’d like to have either of us as a guest on your show, drop us an email at

Show Notes & Links

  1. Don’t forget Opening Arguments LIVE in Los Angeles, CA on October 12, 2019. Here is the link!!
  2. The “de-energization events” are authorized, at least implicitly, by Section 451 of the California Public Utilities Code, as further interpreted by recent rules. PG&E, of course, is in Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
  3. The anti-injunction act is 22 U.S.C. § 2283 , and you can brush up on Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S. 37 (1971) while you’re at it.
  4. We discussed the OLC memos in Episode 290, and then again in Episode 300.
  5. You should definitely read Judge Marrero’s order, even though it’s been appealed to the Second Circuit.
  6. Here are the standing House Rules (check out pp. 322-323), and the 2015 CRS report referenced during the show.

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-For show-related questions, check out the Opening Arguments Wiki, which now has its own Twitter feed!  @oawiki

-And finally, remember that you can email us at!

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OA289: #OpposeJustinWalker

Today’s episode — #OpposeJustinWalker — tells you everything you need to know about Donald Trump’s latest nominee for a lifetime appointment to the federal bench (and Andrew’s former debate opponent) Justin Walker. You already know he’s a lifelong member of the Federalist Society. Why is it specifically worth opposing him? Listen and find out!

First, though, the guys break down the Supreme Court’s 7-2 ruling in U.S. v. Gamble, affirming the “dual sovereignty” doctrine and finally putting the last nail in the coffin of a crazy lefty conspiracy theory we debunked way back in Episode 215. And, as a bonus (?), we find out why Clarence Thomas’s concurrence is “the most horrifying thing in print in the past 50 years.” Seriously!

After that breakdown, it’s time to analyze the background and writings of Justin Walker. We learn that he has virtually no litigation experience and that he’s a right-wing ideologue; you probably expected that. But you’ll also learn that his two major contributions to academic jurisprudence are (1) arguing that transparency in government is a bad, possibly unconstitutional thing; and (2) arguing that the FBI Director has a moral obligation to be the President’s lackey. We are not making any of this up.

Then, it’s time for Thomas Takes The Bar Exam and a question on the propriety of a introducing a particular fact into evidence as the predicate for a cross-examination question. Is it hearsay? Is it impeachment? Is it just hunky-dory? Listen and find out!


None! If you’d like to have either of us as a guest on your show, drop us an email at

Show Notes & Links

1. We discussed the American Legion v. AHA Bladensburg cross case in OA Episodes 256 (with Sarah Henry of the AHA) and Episode 274 with Monica Miller. Monica IS coming back on the show!
2. Click here to read Gamble v. U.S. which we first discussed in OA 215.
3. Andrew debated Justin Walker in Episode 224.
4. This is his announcement.
5. You can read Walker’s CV here.
6. Of Justin Walker’s law review articles, click here to read “Chilled Chambers” and here to read “FBI Independence as a Threat to Civil Liberties: An Analogy to Civilian Control of the Military”.
7. By the way, this is the link to the FBI investigating Deutsche Bank in connection with Jared Kushner.
8. Finally, this is Walker’s National Review article.

-Support us on Patreon at:

-Facebook:, and don’t forget the OA Facebook Community!

-For show-related questions, check out the Opening Arguments Wiki, which now has its own Twitter feed!  @oawiki

-And finally, remember that you can email us at!

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OA159: What Was So Bad About Watergate? Part 1: The Saturday Night Massacre

Today’s episode takes our time machine back to 1972, as Richard Nixon’s Committee to Re-Elect the President (“CREEP”) planned the break-in to the Watergate Hotel Complex that set in motion the criminal conduct that led to the only time in our nation’s history when a President has resigned in disgrace.  Exactly what happened?  In this episode, we talk about the “Saturday Night Massacre,” and what it means today.

First, though, we examine the unintended consequences of the Republican tax bill crammed through the Senate in the waning moments of 2017.  Might the bill actually prevent the major sports franchises, such as Major League Baseball, from trading players??  Listen and find out!

After the main segment, Andrew tackles a listener question regarding the “Guarantee Clause” of the Constitution.  What is it, and why should you care?  Listen and find out!

Finally, we end with the answer to Thomas Takes the Bar Exam Question #67 about breach of contract.  Don’t forget to follow our Twitter feed (@Openargs) and like our Facebook Page so that you too can play along with #TTTBE!

Recent Appearances

None!  Have us on your show!

Show Notes & Links

  1. The provision of the tax code discussed in the “A” segment is 26 U.S.C. § 1031, and you can click here to read about the previous IRS opinions regarding major sports franchises and like-kind exchanges.  You can also check out the New York Times article that first revealed this uncertainty.
  2. The primary cases we discussed regarding Watergate were Nixon v. Sirica, 487 F.2d 700 (D.C. Cir. 1973) and United States v. Nixon, 418 U.S. 683 (1974).
  3. The two cases analyzed in the “C” segment were Luther v. Borden, 48 U.S. 1 (1849) and dicta from New York v. United States, 505 U.S. 144 (1992).

Support us on Patreon at:

Follow us on Twitter:  @Openargs


Don’t forget the OA Facebook Community!

And email us at


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