Thank you, Donald, for our Free Legal Education
Even though President Barack Obama had been a law Professor at the University of Chicago, and the first black President of the Harvard Law Review, there was very little motivation to learn about the Constitution and the Law from his Presidency.
Donald Trump, on the other hand, has seemingly challenged all parts of the Constitution, the Ten Commandments, Supreme Court precedents, the separation of powers, the oversight powers of Congress, Supreme Court and Federal judicial appointments, nepotism, the requirement of the best science in regulations, foreign interference in our elections, and we could go on for hours. MSNBC has become a 24 hour law school, and CNN has many hours a day devoted to Constitutional and administrative law. Our Osher Lifelong Learning Institute classes on Supreme Court cases are always overbooked, and continually scheduled. The UCI Law School has scheduled various public colloquia on relevant law subjects.
Update: Since I mentioned the Ten Commandments above, and Trump has a Trump Tower in Las Vegas, I can’t withhold mentioning that the City is currently at the mercy of a Plague of Locusts.
While Law Schools have highly competent professors, no law school could provide the highly experienced lawyers from past administrations and investigations which appear on the legal parts of the TV shows or press articles. Professors also could not present all of the past historical tapes of investigations which the TV networks have the staff and expertise to present in their documentary segments. The networks also have been able to present comparisons between what Trump claims he or others have said, and what they are on tape as actually saying.
With our Chancellor, Howard Gillman, and the first head of our law school, Erwin Chemerinsky, they have formed a group backing the Freedom of Speech, which they have also written a book about. They fully back the orderly challenge of presenting even radical conservative viewpoints, to be debated and countered fairly, as the President and media conservatives have been demanding, and pretending are abridged. These same conservatives, on the other hand, are trying to suppress liberal free speech, by threatening federal funds to the universities, political science funding, and climate science funding.
I had never read the Constitution, and now only when daily disputes come up. I probably only read the Declaration of Independence when I was in grade school. Yet now I cite these in articles on Trump’s challenging actions. Only rarely have Presidents challenged any of these norms, yet now they are a daily and repeated occurrence. It’s almost as if the dictator Vladimir Putin had become our President, and acted as he daily does in Russia. This includes indicting and disqualifying political appointees, and arresting them before or after the election, even when they are beaten.
No US President has admired dictators who make themselves President for Life, (as China’s Xi Jin Ping has done), or said that they should have more than the allowed two terms, or that their four year term should be extended to six years (as Trump’s buddy Putin gets). Since Mueller and the Congress have emphasized that Trump could be charged once he is out of office,, Trump clearly wants to serve out the rest of his life.
I imagine that this legal and Constitutional exposure has motivated many young students to plan on law careers. Unfortunately, even when Trump’s four, six year terms are over, the norms that he has set will still involve continued challenges. I have no way to predict whether Trump will rename the office as “Supreme Leader”, although he describes his presidency as the best ever, on any chance he gets.
Besides the tests of the Constitution during his term, Trump has also given us the exceptional circumstances of working throughout his campaign to establish collusion with Russia. This even included the public quest starting with “Russia, if you are listening” request for Secretary Clinton’s erased personal emails. Russia tried to hack her system the same day. There were 126 such contacts with Russians. It was well established by Mueller that Russia not only hacked the DNC, the DNCC, and Clinton’s campaign Chairman Jon Podesta. These were released by Wikileaks. Rather than reject this foreign influence, Trump continually paradises Wikileaks. No other Presidential candidate has worked to provide such a legal example for our legal education.
Furthermore, when Special Counsel Mueller was appointed, Trump exercised all possible ways (10 at least) to obstruct the investigation, making a maximal legal example. Thanks for all the hard work, Donald. Trump has gone to two Attorney Generals in his efforts, several White House lawyers, his private lawyer, and two heads of the FBI in constructing his remarkable law cases. We don’t yet know how many of Trump’s over 10,000 lies are part of the discussion of this investigation and related cases.
Trump has at least added two classes to the Law School curriculum, based on each of the two volumes of the Mueller report. There probably already were courses on conflicts of interest by appointing Cabinet members and the 5,000 political appointees from industries which are being regulated, or their lobbyists. That is standard practice for past Republican administrations. There could be a new course on the dismantling of required science consulting committees for agencies to receive the best science in their regulations.
In international law, the whole question of what does it mean when the US signs a Treaty will be raised. These are seldom voted on by the Senate. The amazing powers of this President in using nuclear weapons, in breaking treaties, in imposing tariffs, in interfering with immigration laws, in interfering in justice department investigations or influencing trials and witnesses, in ordering the justice department to investigate political opponents, in threatening other countries, etc., all have to be limited and proscribed by Congress. These abuses of powers far exceed the powers of Marvel’s Justice League to combat, even as a full team. This will take decades to achieve, but requires a responsible electorate to do so.
The 25th Amendment provides for the Vice President and Cabinet to temporarily remove a President from office. But if you have a totally compliant VP who knows that his action will end his political career, that Amendment becomes ineffective. Similarly, the Congress seems incapable of acting to remove an Attorney General who is totally protective and compliant to the President’s orders, as the President has the gall to openly give such orders. The actual symbol of Justice wearing a blindfold and holding the scales of unweighted balance, is totally undermined today.
While I can’t cover the Mueller hearings in detail, it is clear that all of the Republicans want to keep pursuing the investigation by looking at the initial sources, and acting ad hominem against the investigators. This is also at the behest of President Trump, and his dependent Attorney General Barr. A public relations political advisor would say that now that you have spent a half year saying no collusion, no obstruction, you can triumphantly drop the investigation. However, Trump has spent his life writing “The Art of Retaliation”, and will never drop this. In the end, he has said that the problems started with President Obama and Secretary Clinton. So, we have another year and a half of more free law courses. The Bar could design an exam to give a degree in Modern Constitutional Law to those who have diligently followed all of the cases started by the Trump campaign and Presidential term.