The tweet was simple but promised a very complicated future:
“Any government official who refuses to execute Trump’s orders on grounds of illegality will receive free representation from me. & I’m good!” it read.
Good is not an idle boast. The author, Ian Samuel, 33, has clerked for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, worked for the Obama Department of Justice, and handled cybersecurity cases for a large corporate law firm and currently hosts the FirstMondays podcast about the Supreme Court while also teaching at Harvard Law School.
Frustrated by what he saw as a “clearly unconstitutional” executive order, he typed out his tweet on Friday night, plus a second one asking his 8,000-plus followers to “please retweet this. My own audience is rather small but I need lots of people to know this offer exists.”
Then he went out to dinner. By the time he checked next, he’d been retweeted nearly 7,000 times. By the end of the weekend, he’d compiled a list of nearly 100 other lawyers, law students and “people with no legal skills who want to help anyway, like one former secretary who offered to do any filing or stapling we needed.”
He had also heard from some civil servants who might need to take him up on his offer.
Perhaps it was his own time spent in government, he said in an interview with Yahoo News, but when he read of the new immigration ban he immediately thought of the workers who would be needed to implement it.
“No government policy is self-executing,” he said in an interview, describing his thinking before posting his tweet. “The White House can command whatever they want, but it requires tremendous cooperation from the workers.”
And those workers, he says, “aren’t under any obligation to break the law.” And, he contends, the policy announced Friday night to bar entry to citizens of seven largely Muslim nations “is not only unwise, it also clearly breaks the law.”