Business & Practice

Top Attorneys Take to Twitter to Oppose Trump’s Immigration Ban

Jan. 30, 2017, 8:22 PM

Top appellate attorney Theodore J. Boutrous Jr. first spoke out against a ban on Muslim immigrants more than a year ago, when then-candidate Donald J. Trump proposed the idea on the campaign trail.

“It’s an absurd proposal that would plainly and blatantly violate First Amendment, due process and equal protection rights,” Boutrous, a Los Angeles-based partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher told Bloomberg Politics in a story that appeared on Dec. 7, 2015 . “It would be completely unworkable, create a firestorm with other countries, and flatly contradict the basic principles on which the country was founded.”

Boutrous tweeted his quote in the story the day the article appeared, and yesterday, after President Trump on Friday signed an executive order temporarily banning immigration from several predominantly Muslim countries , he raised it again on the feeds of his 6,660 followers.

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Asked about his tweets on Monday, Boutrous said he felt it was “important to speak out about the constitutional and other problems with this type of order.”

“I really do think that lawyers play a special role in our democracy in defending the core principles of the country,” he said, “and we saw that play out over the weekend with lawyers flooding the airports to help out.”

Boutrous, who has also offered to represent pro bono anyone targeted by the Trump administration for exercising their First Amendment rights , is one of several prominent attorneys and law professors who are speaking out on Twitter and elsewhere about their opposition to the executive order on immigration. Many firms are also offering their help pro bono and joining in protests that have taken place at airports and cities around the country.

Here is Steven Schulman, head of pro bono at Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld:

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Neal Katyal, a former acting solicitor general of the U.S., a partner at Hogan Lovells in Washington, D.C., and a professor at Georgetown University Law Center, also has been voicing opposition to the executive order.

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Tim Wu, a well-known professor at Columbia Law School best known for coining the term “net neutrality,” tweeted Saturday that the executive order isutterly un-American.” In 2014, Wu ran for lieutenant governor of New York against Kathy Hochul, the running mate of Andrew Cuomo. He currently works on issues of technology and protecting consumers in the office of New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

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And Laurence H. Tribe, the famed constitutional law scholar at Harvard, has been tweeting nearly non-stop about the order since it came out, including to give “props” to Lyft for its $1 million donation to the ACLU and anti-props to Uber , which was criticized initially for dropping surge pricing at JFK airport in a move many perceived to be interfering with taxi drivers’ strike in solidarity with protesters there. Uber’s chief executive Travis Kalanick has since spoken out against the executive order and set up a $3 million legal defense fund in connection with it .

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Other companies and their top attorneys have condemned the order as well, including Microsoft, where Chief Legal officer Brad Smith sent a note to all employees on Saturday promising to help affected personnel and expressing support for immigration laws that “protect the public without sacrificing people’s freedom of expression or religion.”

Another GC, Horacio Gutierrez of Spotify, took to Twitter to commend fellow attorneys for standing up for the rule of law at the San Francisco International Airport. He later retweeted a Spotify playlist of refugee artists.

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While in-house lawyers, law professors and law partners have been particularly active, firm chairs and managing partners, whose firms’ lawyers represent clients on both sides of the aisle, have been notably silent over the past several days.

If you know of one who would like to speak up, though, write to us at biglawbusiness@bna.com .

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