Trump and the Constitution

This course will consider challenges the Trump administration poses to constitutional democracy and the rule of law.  Other presidents have pressed the limits of executive power, especially since 9/11 But the Trump presidency raises new questions that go to the heart of the U.S. constitutional system and require us to consider (a) the rule of law and democratic norms, (b) whether constitutional checks and balances are functioning, (c) how (and who) defines the scope and limits of executive power.  We will consider the role of Congress, the courts, the press, executive branch lawyers, and the public.  Some areas we will discuss include: (1) national security and the use of military force, (2) challenges to dissent and freedom of the press, and (3) white nationalism. Central questions we will consider include (1) why do scholars worry about President Trump’s "authoritarian tendencies"? (2) how can meaningful limits be set on executive power?  (3) what do we mean by constitutional democracy and the rule of law, and how do these principles apply to the Trump administration? (4) how can the Trump administration’s actions be placed in context, given constitutional history (including the origins of the Constitution) as well as actions by past presidents? (5) how are various actors, including Congress, the courts, the press, and the public at large, fulfilling or failing to fulfill their roles in the constitutional system? and (6) are constitutional democracy and the rule of law functioning under the Trump administration?