👮 Two legal experts on why the law prevents the federal arrests in Portland 

Last week, reports came out of Portland suggesting unidentified federal authorities were plucking protesters off the street and detaining them in vans. Is that legal?

  • Absolutely not, according to Quinta Jurecic and Benjamin Wittes: “At least in a nation that purports to live under the rule of law,” they write. Jurecic and Wittes operate the Lawfare blog.  

  • Lawsuits have already been filed: Oregon’s AG, in a lawsuit against federal agencies, claimed that the people who were arrested would’ve had good reason to believe they were being kidnapped. And it’s expected that another legal question will address whether the federal authorities, particularly those who work for Customs and Border Patrol, had the training for controlling protests. 

  • Patrolling downtowns vs protecting federal property: The Trump administration has argued the federal authorities are protecting federal buildings in Portland. Jurecic and Wittes say the law certainly allows that. But they argue the Feds have gone too far and have used their power to arrest protesters who are merely in the same neighborhoods as the federal property.

The Verdict

As the legal concerns make their way through court, the use of federal authorities may increase. Portland’s protests have grown in size over the last week, and Trump has said he may use the Feds in New York, Philly and elsewhere.