Professor Elizabeth Joh teaches Intro to Constitutional Law and most of the time this is a pretty straight forward job. But with Trump in office, everything has changed. Five minutes before class Professor Joh checks Twitter to find out what the 45th President has said and how it jibes with 200 years of the judicial branch interpreting and ruling on the Constitution. Hosted by acclaimed podcaster Roman Mars (99% Invisible, co-founder Radiotopia), this show is a weekly, fun, casual Con Law 101 class that uses the tumultuous and erratic activities of the executive branch under Trump to teach us all about the US Constitution.
The Constitution says that a “person holding any office of profit or trust” cannot accept gifts from any foreign state. In Article II, it also says the president specifically cannot accept gifts from “United States, or any of them.” If Trump businesses profit from a foreign or domestic state, is that a violation of either one of the emolument clauses? It’s hard to say, because there is literally no case law when it comes the emoluments clause. None!
There have already been a few high profile lawsuits against President Trump and the first defense against such a lawsuit is to claim that the president cannot be sued in civil court. But it turns out, the Supreme Court has ruled different ways on whether or not the president is immune from lawsuits. We look a three cases from history and hear how they’re being used to argue for and against the current cases filed against Trump.
In an executive order, Trump threatened to withhold federal money from any place acting as a “sanctuary city.” Supreme Court rulings over the 20th century have ruled in different ways on how federal money can be used to influence the behavior of local governments. When it comes to the Spending Clause, how coercive is too coercive?
There are reports that the Trump administration is being investigated for obstruction of justice. This has led a lot of people to wonder if the Constitution’s presidential pardon power could be used to absolve members of his administration, or even himself, from criminal charges. And what does the Constitution say about how a pardon has to be presented? Can Trump pardon someone with a tweet?
The US Constitution has a clause that describes how the president can hire certain political appointees with the advice and consent of the Senate. It doesn’t say when the president can fire someone. We take a look at recent Trump firings and put them in context of Supreme Court cases where the court both upheld and denied the president’s right to fire an executive branch employee...
Back in February 2017, Trump tweeted a criticism of the “so-called judge” who blocked the enforcement of his travel ban. Why does the president have to listen to what the courts say? We’re going to tell the story of a key moment in history when the president (Truman, in this case) and the court strongly disagreed.
Welcome to “What Trump Can Teach Us About Con Law"! Every week Roman Mars (99% Invisible) will host a fun, casual Con Law 101 class that uses the tumultuous and erratic activities of the executive branch under Trump to teach us all about the US Constitution.