Dorothy Samuels

Dorothy Samuels, a former member of the New York Times Editorial Board, is a senior fellow at the Brennan Center for Justice.

Recent Articles

Trump Targets the Legal Services Corporation

Another presidential assault on the courts and poor people—and another critical institution heedlessly threatened.  

bikeriderlondon/Shutterstock
bikeriderlondon/Shutterstock B eyond eliminating the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the endowments for the arts and humanities, and other extreme Heritage Foundation-inspired dismantling, President Donald Trump’s budget blueprint for the coming fiscal year puts on the chopping block America’s core ideals of basic fairness and equal access to justice. That’s not just hyperbole. The so-called “skinny budget,” released last month by the Office of Management and Budget, proposes wiping out all federal financing for the 43-year-old Legal Services Corporation (LSC), the publicly funded but independently run nonprofit that is the largest source of support for high-quality civil legal assistance to low-income Americans—and a fundamental expression of the nation’s commitment to equal justice under law. If the situation has a familiar ring it’s because the organization has faced extinction threats before. Readers of a certain age, for example, will recall President Ronald Reagan’s...

Neil Gorsuch Must Answer the Questions Merrick Garland Was Denied

Democrats should require Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee to respond to basic questions about his judicial philosophy and views on past cases.

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch meets with Senator Chris Coons on Capitol Hill. T his is what the GOP push to confirm Neil Gorsuch, Donald Trump’s far-right nominee for the Supreme Court, has come to: An Instagram video posted by the Senate Republican Conference shows the 49-year-old federal Circuit Court of Appeals judge stopping to pet an adorable Shih Tzu while on his Capitol Hill rounds. The caption: “One more reason you’ll love Judge Gorsuch. He loves dogs.” Funny, perhaps, and cuddly—but also emblematic of Republicans’ artful but misleading push to “normalize” Trump’s very right-wing choice in advance of his Senate confirmation hearings, which begin on March 20. It’s all part of a full court press to install Gorsuch in the Supreme Court seat that Republicans effectively stole from Barack Obama with their unprecedented refusal to even consider his nominee, Merrick Garland, another widely respected—and far more moderate—federal judge. Obama had...

Trump’s Super-Sized Global Gag Rule

Donald Trump did not just reinstate a pre-Obama ban on U.S. assistance to overseas groups that perform or even talk about abortion, he vastly expanded its reach.

Doug Strickland/Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP
Doug Strickland/Chattanooga Times Free Press via AP Demonstrators gather in Coolidge Park for the Chattanooga Women's March on Saturday, January 21, 2017, in Chattanooga, Tennessee. L argely lost so far in the coverage of Trump’s order on Monday reviving the so-called global gag rule is its unprecedented sweep. Also known as the “Mexico City Policy,” after the location of the United Nations population conference where President Reagan first announced it in 1984, the gag rule bans U.S. funding for international groups that provide abortions, advocate politically for abortion rights, or even talk about abortion with patients. Reagan and subsequent GOP presidents have all imposed the gag rule, while Democratic presidents, including Obama, have rescinded it. But Trump, in re-imposing the funding ban this week—one day after the 44th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling—went much further than his GOP predecessors. Until now, the gag rule has applied only to U.S. family...

For Women’s Reproductive Freedom, a Chill Wind Blows

Roe v. Wade will stand for now, but the essential right it protects is in Trump’s line of fire.

(Photo: AP/Alex Brandon)
(Photo: AP/Alex Brandon) Pro-abortion rights protesters attempt to block the March for Life in front of the U.S. Supreme Court, on January 22, 2016. D onald Trump’s plans for an extreme misogynistic makeover of reproductive health care received way too little scrutiny during his noxious, anti-woman campaign. Now, the damage a hard-right Trump administration could inflict on abortion rights and women’s health services more broadly has become impossible to ignore. Trump lost the popular vote and received no mandate to roll back or eliminate a fundamental right that the Supreme Court has recognized as integral to women’s autonomy and equality, but since Election Day, he has made even plainer his commitment to doing exactly that. In his first prime-time TV interview following the election, the president-elect doubled down on his campaign calls to destroy Planned Parenthood, pack federal trial and appellate courts with anti-abortion ideologues, and eventually appoint enough Supreme Court...

Trump’s Awful Behavior Drives Away Women, But So Does His Anti-Woman Platform

The Republican Party will never solve its woman problem until its leaders abandon candidates and policies that seek to rob women of their basic right to make their own child-bearing decisions.

AP Photo/Evan Vucci
AP Photo/Evan Vucci Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump waves as he speaks during a campaign rally, Thursday, November 3, 2016, in Selma, North Carolina. A s we near the conclusion of this year’s bizarre and decidedly unpleasant presidential election, I find my thoughts turning to last month’s successful mass protest by Polish women to defeat that country’s plan to ban abortion completely, and to imprison for up to five years both women seeking the procedure and doctors who perform it. Specifically, I am struck by the resemblance between Poland’s draconian proposal to further restrict abortion—that country already permits the procedure only in extremely limited circumstances—and the radical rollback in women’s basic reproductive rights proposed by notorious misogynist and White House wannabe, Donald Trump, and his running mate/enabler Mike Pence. The two are pledging, among other things, to appoint Supreme Court justices who would consign Roe. v. Wade “to the ash heap of...