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What Can Trump Teach Us About Con Law is a weekly podcast by Elizabeth Joh and Roman Mars that uses the tumultuous and erratic activities of the executive branch under President Trump to teach us about the US Constitution.


Episode #011 War Powers

What does the Constitution say about the president's ability to wage war and what is the role of Congress?

Episode #010 Impeachment

Impeachment is the constitutional emergency measure written into the constitution itself. It is easy to talk about, but very hard to accomplish. Elizabeth Joh and Roman Mars talk about the procedure impeachment and why it is so hard.

Episode #009 Commerce Clause

The federal government cannot pass any law it wants to. It is limited by Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution, but the executive branch can choose how to enforce those laws. Under Trump, there are indications that drug laws, whose power is derived from the Commerce Clause, are about to be enforced very differently.

Episode #008 The Takings Clause

To build a wall along the US-Mexico border, Trump must seize private land. The Constitution has something to say about that and it's known as the Takings Clause.

Episode #007 Recess Appointment Power

The Constitution says that the president can appoint important executive positions with the advice and consent of the Senate. But what if the Senate is out on recess? Does the president have to wait until the Senate comes back?

Episode #006 The Emoluments Clause

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!

Episode #005 Presidential Immunity

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 are being used to argue for and against the current cases filed against Trump.

Episode #004 The Spending Clause

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?

Episode #003 Pardon Power

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?

Episode #002 The Appointments Clause and Removal Power

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 does not 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. Even if a president has the constitutional power to fire someone, it does not mean there are not political and legal consequences of the action.

Episode #001 Judicial Legitimacy

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? This episode answers the question by telling the story of a key moment in history when then President Harry Truman and the court strongly disagreed.


Con Law The US Constitution has only 4,543 words, including signatures; 7,591 with all twenty seven amendments. But, many of these words and their intent are still being interpreted, debated, and pushed to their limits. It is good for everyone to learn more about the US Constitution. This program can help.

Hosted by Roman Mars (99% Invisible, co-founder Radiotopia) and Elizabeth Joh, law professor at the University of California, Davis, School of Law, What Trump Can Teach Us About Con Law uses President Donald Trump's tumultuous and erratic activities as the backdrop for a Constitutional Law 101 course.

Learn more, and subscribe to this podcast at the What Trump Can Teach Us about Con Law website.