Rank #1: 2- 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 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. Even if a president has the constitutional power to fire someone, it doesn’t mean there aren’t political and legal consequences of the action.
Jun 15 2017
Rank #2: 21- Attorney Client Privilege
When the office of Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, was raided by the FBI, Trump took twitter to express his concern. He wrote “Attorney-client privilege is dead!” Let’s see if it is.
Apr 27 2018
Rank #3: 34- Foreign Affairs
Donald Trump says he should not be impeached as President, since there was ‘no quid pro quo’ on a phone call where he asked the Ukrainian president to investigate a political rival, former Vice President Joe Biden. But does quid pro quo need to be explicitly stated to be a legal issue? And can private citizens like Rudy Giuliani represent America on foreign policy issues?
Oct 18 2019
Rank #4: 3- 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?
Jun 22 2017
Rank #5: 4- 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?
Jun 29 2017
Rank #6: 5- 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’re being used to argue for and against the current cases filed against Trump.
Jul 13 2017
Rank #7: 32- Contempt Power
What is Congress’ contempt power and how can they use it to force people to cooperate with their investigations?
May 13 2019
Rank #8: 33- Obstruction
Trump lawyers assert that all of Trump’s actions during the Mueller investigation were within his rights as President and can’t be classified as obstruction of justice, especially because there is no underlying crime alleged. But as Martha Stewart will tell you, that’s not how obstruction of justice works.
Sep 21 2019
Rank #9: 31- Executive Privilege
It's likely that Trump will invoke executive privilege during the numerous investigations and inquiries into his actions. Presidents have insisted they need to keep secrets to do their job effectively since Washington, but the term "executive privilege" is relatively recent and it has rarely been tested in court.
Apr 18 2019
Rank #10: 19- The Poisonous Tree
The Russia investigation has been called a "witch hunt" by Trump and his supporters on Twitter. And they've invoked the legal concept "the fruit of the poisonous tree" to invalidate the investigation. What does the Fourth Amendment say about tainted investigations and does it apply to Trump?
Feb 23 2018
Rank #11: 17- The 4th Amendment and the Border
The Fourth Amendment says that “The right of the people to be secure in their person, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” But at the border, warrantless searches are OK, even when it comes to our digital devices. With Trump's focus on the border, this is becoming a bigger deal.
Jan 25 2018
Rank #12: 18- The Tenth Amendment
The Tenth Amendment limits the federal government’s control over the states, but the interpretation of that limit is always shifting.
Feb 09 2018
Rank #13: 20- Deadly Force
The Fourth Amendment includes the right to be secure from “unreasonable searches and seizure.” We have some idea of how this applies to cops, but if teachers are allowed to carry guns in school, are they also subject to the Fourth Amendment?
Mar 15 2018
Rank #14: 6- The Emoluments Clauses
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!
Jul 20 2017
Rank #15: 25- Justice Kennedy
Justice Kennedy decided to retire at the end of this Supreme Court term. Kennedy has been the swing vote on a lot of important cases. He’s mostly considered a conservative, but he has voted with the more progressive judges on cases having to do with gay rights and abortion. His successor will be appointed by Trump and that has many progressives concerned that the replacement will be even more conservative.
Jul 06 2018