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What Roman Mars Can Learn About Con Law

Roman Mars


4.84K Ratings


Professor Elizabeth Joh teaches Intro to Constitutional Law and most of the time this is a pretty straight forward job. But when Trump came into office, everything changed. During the four years of the Trump presidency, Professor Joh would check Twitter five minutes before each class to find out what the 45th President had said and how it jibes with 200 years of the judicial branch interpreting and ruling on the Constitution. Acclaimed podcaster Roman Mars (99% Invisible) was so anxious about all the norms and laws being tested in the Trump era that he asked his neighbor, Elizabeth, to explain what was going on in the world from a Constitutional law perspective. Even after Trump left office, there is still so much for Roman to learn. What Roman Mars Can Learn About Con Law is a weekly, fun, casual Con Law 101 class that uses the tumultuous activities of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches to teach us all about the US Constitution. All music for the show comes from Doomtree, an independent hip-hop collective and record label based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

79 Episodes

78- The Disqualification Clause

Does the 14th Amendment's Disqualification Clause apply to Trump?

Transcribed - Published: 18 December 2023

77- Gag

Why do courts issue gag orders and when do they conflict with the First Amendment?

Transcribed - Published: 2 November 2023

76- Margarine, Meadows, and Removal

What’s the connection between Trump, margarine, and Mark Meadows?

Transcribed - Published: 19 September 2023

75- Comstock Zombies

19th century "zombie" laws are shambling into the abortion debate

Transcribed - Published: 31 May 2023

74- On the Eve of Trump's Arraignment

The presumed criminal charges against former President Trump and role of the New York Grand Jury

Transcribed - Published: 4 April 2023

73- Lies, George Santos, and the 1st Amendment

What does the Constitution say about lies, punishing lies, and punishing someone who lies to get elected?

Transcribed - Published: 17 March 2023

72-Weddings, Websites, and Forced Speech

What if a business owner asserts that serving a gay customer violates their first amendment rights?

Transcribed - Published: 10 February 2023

71- The War Between the States

How the Dormant Commerce Clause tries to stop states from passing laws that put an undue burden on interstate commerce. Plus, what's going on with student debt relief: who filed a lawsuit against it and why.

Transcribed - Published: 27 November 2022

70- Trump's Bet on Cannon

When the FBI executed a search warrant on his home, Trump and his lawyers filed their complaints in a district where they thought they’d get sympathetic treatment from Judge Aileen Cannon, who Trump appointed. The assignment of a particular judge is not up to Trump, but in this case, he got lucky, and Cannon was assigned. How did Trump’s gamble on getting his case in front of Judge Cannon work out? Let’s find out.

Transcribed - Published: 22 October 2022

69- The Mar-a-Lago Warrant

Elizabeth teaches Roman about which crimes the Justice Department is interested in as described in the Mar-a-Lago search warrant

Transcribed - Published: 10 September 2022

68- The Longest Week

We go through the other Supreme Court decisions that were released the same week Roe was overturned.

Transcribed - Published: 12 August 2022

67- Jan 6 and the Evidence Against Trump

What have we learned from the January 6th Committee hearings and what does is mean for a potential Justice Department investigation of Trump?

Transcribed - Published: 5 August 2022

66- After Dobbs

The Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization decision has overturned Roe v. Wade and revoked the right to abortion, a Constitutionally guaranteed right we have had for about 50 years. What happens now?

Transcribed - Published: 29 June 2022

65- The Second Amendment

The recent mass shootings and a New York gun carrying permit case calls for an examination of the current interpretation of the Second Amendment.

Transcribed - Published: 7 June 2022

64- Ethics and Masks

What happens when a case in front of the Supreme Court involves the spouse of one of the justices?

Transcribed - Published: 16 May 2022

63- The Leaked Draft

The leaked draft majority opinion that threatens to strike down the constitutional right to abortion and potentially many other rights

Transcribed - Published: 4 May 2022

62- On the Other End of the Line

Trump's improper dealing with Ukraine was what led to his first impeachment. While most of us were focused on the domestic political implications of Trump's action, the country of Ukraine was put into jeopardy in a way that many didn't fully realize until the recent Russian invasion.

Transcribed - Published: 31 March 2022

61- Book Banning and the Constitution

What can the government do about the school library and the classroom and what does the Constitution say about it?

Transcribed - Published: 2 March 2022

60- The Administrative State

What two SCOTUS rulings about COVID vaccine mandates tell us about the future of the Administrative State

Transcribed - Published: 1 February 2022

59- A Jurisprudence of Doubt

What are the current precedents when it comes to abortion rights and how solid do they feel right now?

Transcribed - Published: 17 December 2021

58- Executive Privilege, SB 8 update, and Rust

An update on SB 8, Executive Privilege of presidential records, and a short digression into criminal law with the tragic death on a movie set

Transcribed - Published: 1 November 2021

57- The Eastman Memo

John Eastman, a mainstream conservative lawyer working for Trump, outlined a plan for VP Pence to declare Trump the winner of the 2020 election regardless of the votes. It didn't happen, but should we be worried about the memo when it comes to future elections?

Transcribed - Published: 6 October 2021

56- Shadow Docket

The Shadow Docket, Texas's SB 8, and the state of abortion rights in the US

Transcribed - Published: 9 September 2021

55- Double Dose of Jacobson

As people argue over public policy regarding the COVID vaccine, Jacobson V. Massachusetts (1905) is invoked a lot. Plus, Trump is in court and the first Capitol riot conviction.

Transcribed - Published: 3 August 2021

54- Bong Hits for Jesus

A quick roundup of three Supreme Court decisions that came down at the end of June

Transcribed - Published: 2 July 2021

53- Hate Crimes

On May 20, 2021, President Biden signed the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act. What exactly is a hate crime and what does the Constitution say about them?

Transcribed - Published: 31 May 2021

52- Pattern and Practice

What can a President do when it comes to reforming the approximately 18,000 locally governed police departments around the US?

Transcribed - Published: 3 May 2021

51- The Capitol Mob and their cell phones

On January 6th, a mob stormed the US Capitol to try to stop the certification of the presidential election results. Many of the insurrectionists will be tracked down and charged with crimes, in part, because their cell phone placed them in the Capitol Building during the attack. The case of Carpenter v. United States is the closest the Supreme Court has come to weighing in on the matter of historical cell phone data, but the decision didn’t not offer an opinion on law enforcement’s use of a location specific cell phone tower data dump without an individual suspect in mind. This brings up questions about the way warrants usually work under the Fourth Amendment.

Transcribed - Published: 27 March 2021

50- Deplatforming and Section 230

Following the January 6th riot on Capitol Hill, the major social media platforms banned former President Donald Trump, and many accounts related to far-right conspiracy theories. In response, conservative activists have called for the repeal of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, saying it would prevent ‘censorship’ of right-wing viewpoints in the future. But what does Section 230 actually say? How are the social media companies determining what can be on their platforms?

Transcribed - Published: 27 February 2021

49- Incitement

On January 13th, former President Donald Trump became the first person ever to be impeached twice by the House of Representatives. But with Trump out of office, it’s unclear if there will be enough votes to reach the two-thirds majority needed to convict him in the Senate. With the trial looming, we look at whether Trump has a good argument against the charge he incited a riot on Capitol Hill, and whether or not it’s constitutional to impeach someone after they leave office.

Transcribed - Published: 30 January 2021

48- The Final Days

How Trump is failing to overturn the election and how he might use his pardon power in his final days. This episode was recorded on December 21, 2020.

Transcribed - Published: 26 December 2020

47- Lame Duck

In late November, most states have certified the Presidential election for Joe Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris. But Donald Trump continues to deny the results of the election and insist (without a shred evidence) that he lost because of voter fraud. What does the constitution have to say about the transfer of power? What if Donald Trump fails to concede? What does the constitution say about the period of time after an incumbent loses but remains in power?

Transcribed - Published: 26 November 2020

46- Counting Votes

During the 2000 Presidential Election, it wasn’t immediately certain who had won the electoral college votes in Florida, throwing the entire process into chaos. Eventually, the SCOTUS had to step in to rule on the outcome. With the 2020 election only a few days out, we take a look back at how the Supreme Court played a role in adjudicating the election in Bush v. Gore, and then we look forward to what might happen this time around.

Transcribed - Published: 31 October 2020

45- SCOTUS without RBG

On September 18th, Ruth Bader Ginsburg died at the age of 87. She was a trailblazing jurist who fought for the equality of women before the law. But her legacy is in peril, as Donald Trump and Senate Republicans prepare to nominate a conservative successor. What can Democrats do to alter the course of the SCOTUS? And what does the constitution tell us about so-called ‘judicial supremacy’?

Transcribed - Published: 26 September 2020

44- The Hatch Act and The Election

With only two months before the election, the Republican Party got a lot of attention - and scorn - for using the White House as a backdrop during their nominating convention. The convention appeared to be in contradiction of The Hatch Act, which forbids federal employees from political campaigning while they’re on duty. Even if the convention broke the law, will anyone be held accountable? Plus, we tackle the President’s recent comments casting doubt on mail-in balloting.

Transcribed - Published: 29 August 2020

43- The Trump SCOTUS Term

We review some of the big cases that were decided during the SCOTUS term and assess the constitutionality of the federal policing of the Portland protests

Transcribed - Published: 1 August 2020

42- Police, Race, and Federalism

As people around the world continue to protest police brutality, Republicans and Democrats in Congress have proposed bills that would reform policing across the U.S. But in the American system, states are given a lot of latitude over law enforcement, down to the use of tactics like chokeholds and tear gas. Given the constitution, what can the federal government actually do to make things better? Also, why was the ever-obscure Third Amendment trending last month?

Transcribed - Published: 27 June 2020

41- The Socially Distanced SCOTUS

The Supreme Court may not be able to meet in person, but they are still doing business over conference call. This month, they've considered three cases about Donald Trump's finances, and whether they should be released to Congressional committees and prosecutors in New York. What does history tell us about these cases which could have major consequences for executive power?

Transcribed - Published: 30 May 2020

40- Jacobson and COVID

In mid-April, 2020, states are beginning to explore ways to re-open their economies amid the global coronavirus pandemic. But with states devising their own paths forward, many are wondering what powers the government has, even during a national emergency. Are the states violating our civil liberties by enforcing these lockdowns? To answer this question, many legal scholars are looking to a 115-year-old Supreme Court case for answers, Jacobson v. Massachusetts.

Transcribed - Published: 24 April 2020

39- Quarantine Powers

During a health crisis, what is the government allowed to do? As the novel coronavirus spreads across America, there have been closures and lockdowns across the country. In this episode, we look to history to understand who has the power to quarantine, and how the office of the president can be used to slow down a pandemic.

Transcribed - Published: 17 March 2020

38- Prosecutorial Discretion

Prosecutors recommended that Roger Stone, an associate of Donald Trump, be given a heavy penalty after being convicted of seven felony counts, including lying to authorities. But after intervention from Attorney General Barr, and tweets from the President, those recommendations were rescinded. What can his case tell us about presidential interference and prosecutorial discretion?

Transcribed - Published: 22 February 2020

37- War Powers and Impeachment Update

After Donald Trump ordered the killing of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani, many wondered if the two countries were on the brink of a major conflict. This incident is only the latest in the long-standing fight between Congress and the President over who has the power to make war, and if an act of violence against another state can be legitimate without Congressional approval. This episode also includes an update on the Senate impeachment trial of Donald Trump, which began earlier this week. Make your mark. Donate at http://radiotopia.fm

Transcribed - Published: 25 January 2020

36- Bribery

Bribery is one of the three offenses listed in the Constitution as grounds for impeachment. Even though that is attempting to bribe Ukraine is the act that precipitated to Trump’s impeachment, it’s not explicitly listed in the articles of impeachment. Why is that? Make your mark. Go to radiotopia.fm to donate today.

Transcribed - Published: 23 December 2019

35- Confrontation Clause

Since the beginning of the impeachment proceedings against the President, Donald Trump has insisted he has a right to confront “the whistleblower,” the anonymous member of the intelligence community who set the whole thing in motion. There is a Confrontation Clause in the Sixth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which says a defendant in a criminal case has the right to face their accuser. But does this clause apply to the impeachment hearing against a president in Congress?

Transcribed - Published: 15 November 2019

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? Get the new Shredders album from Doomtree!

Transcribed - Published: 18 October 2019

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. Get the new Shredders album from Doomtree!

Transcribed - Published: 21 September 2019

32- Contempt Power

What is Congress’ contempt power and how can they use it to force people to cooperate with their investigations?

Transcribed - Published: 13 May 2019

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.

Transcribed - Published: 18 April 2019

30- The 25th Amendment

What does the 25th Amendment say about presidential fitness, disability, and Trump?

Transcribed - Published: 31 December 2018

29- Birthright Citizenship and the 14th Amendment

Trump has threatened to revoke Birthright Citizenship with an executive order. This proposed order contradicts the Fourteenth Amendment, but Trump’s tweets contend otherwise.

Transcribed - Published: 4 December 2018

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