Jon D. Michaels

Jon D. Michaels, a professor of law at UCLA School of Law, is author of Constitutional Coup: Privatization’s Threat to the American Republic

Recent Articles

The War on Federal Employees

For years, they’ve been attacked as lazy. Now they’re attacked as disloyal. What they really are is independent—and empiricists.

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File
AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke speaks at the Heritage Foundation in Washington N ot long ago, in a speech before a crowd of industry executives, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke declared 30 percent of his department’s employees to be disloyal. Given the size of the sprawling department, Zinke was referring to tens of thousands of federal civil servants who were not, in Zinke’s words, “loyal to the flag.” He followed that allegation with assurances that he’d put a plan in place to force the rogues out. We may be quick to chalk up the secretary’s entirely unsubstantiated claim to the unusual, perhaps unprecedented, “politics as usual” that marks the Trump era. In this uncharted and unsettling political reality, ordinary disagreements (such as those that regularly occur between career bureaucrats and presidential appointees) are transformed into dark and distorted morality plays. Indeed, Zinke’s claims are hardly isolated. Consider President Trump’s most...