Well, the “time travel” is done and it is time to face the present. The election is over and we have a new president-elect. While I generally reserve this space for focusing on the students’ blogs, or our class generally, I’m going to use (abuse?) the power of the bully pulpit for a moment. This election has been hard on a lot of people.
From women, to various minorities, to survivors of the Holocaust, to those who have lived under authoritarian regimes, we have seen a large number of diverse individuals come forward and express frustration and fear over the election results. A large number of historians and political scientists have voiced their concerns. Many of these scholars study American history, European history, how democratic regimes transform into authoritarian regimes, and American Constitutional law. As someone who studies religion and politics, with a special focus on the First Amendment, as well as the intersection of power and rights, including human rights, I share many of these concerns. There is still much we don’t know regarding what to expect under the next administration. However, there are many reasons for apprehension.
Our Constitution, while resilient, is also fragile. Our laws, institutions, and rights are not self-enforcing and protecting. The US system is built on the premise of active citizens pushing back against the government, as well as the government itself acting as checks on its own power. From much of what we have seen, the incoming administration is kowtowing to radical white extremists as while facing virtually no opposition from within the president-elect’s party. If he tries to make good on many of his campaign promises—from Muslim registration, to mass deportation, to a border wall—there are many who are about to have their rights and liberties, and human rights, violated. As someone who loves his country and believes in the Constitution (in all of its flaws and contradictions), these are incredibly troubling developments. I write all of this not to raise alarms, caste aspirations, or denounce those who voted for the president-elect. Instead, I write all of this, partially as my own self-indulgent seeking of catharsis, but also as a reminder that democracies require active, involved citizens to stand up to protect our rights, and the rights of others. If you are not happy with the election results, or with specific policy changes that are being advocated, you have the duty to say something and to work within the system to try to stop or change that which you do not like. This is true regardless of party, ideology, or anything else. This is the essence of our constitutional structure that is based on “We the people.”
Now that I’ve gotten that out, on to the student blogs. I promise, they are really good, and probably much better than my rambling, ranty beginning to this post.
Taylor’s post for this week is her reactions two-days after the election results were in. It is direct, it is raw, and it captures a lot of the uncertainty now that Trump is president-elect. Some of Taylor’s concerns relate directly to the topics of our Constitutional law course this semester, some are more rights and liberties oriented (that’s next semester), and some go beyond the realm of law. Regardless, the post is a reminder that elections and policy decisions affect real human lives, and not always for the best.
Erin, in her post, addresses the position of affirmative action in a Trump world. She indicates that, although Trump did not talk about affirmative action while campaigning, there are certain things we can infer from past Republican responses. However, as Erin adds, Trump is not a typical Republican.
Tom continues the analysis of looking towards the new president. Tom connects the fact that we have a new president-elect with the theme of his blog: separation of powers. Given the Republicans will have control of the presidency, the Senate, and the House under Trump, Tom looks at what this means for the separation of powers principles enshrined in the Constitution.
Ben, in his post, dives right to the heart of the intersection of our course and the election by discussing Trump and the Supreme Court. He goes into specific policy and legal areas where a Trump presidency and Trump-nominated justice can undo many of the things the Obama administration has accomplished over the last (nearly) 8 years.
Selma O. also addresses what a Trump presidency means for the Supreme Court. Selma discusses potential conflicts a Trump presidency has, and how this relates to existing Court precedent. Selma highlights many issues of constitutional law that are potentially going to be unsettled by a Trump presidency, as we are likely to rehash many previous conflicts regarding governmental power and the Constitution.
Elise, in a nod to how many (especially those concerned about the Constitution) are feeling post-election, focuses on Madison and the Constitution in her post. She talks about the Constitutional Convention and Madison’s role in shaping the new Constitution.
Grace’s post this week is not explicitly about the election, but it is about immigration, and thus is not fully removed from the election. In her post, Grace discusses the issue of federal preemption as it relates specifically to immigration. She discusses how immigration plays out in the separation of powers at the federal level, as a continuation of her post from last week, and then relates this to federal and state policy as well. She integrates Arizona v. US (2012) into her discussion to round out the discussion of federal preemption pertaining to immigration.
Given the somewhat downbeat beginning, allow me to further appropriate (again, abuse?) the bully pulpit and try to end on a brighter note. In light of the impending Thanksgiving holiday, I’ll end this post with an expression of gratitude. I’d like to offer a sincere thanks to my students. Not just those in my Constitutional Law class who blog here, but especially to these students. Reading the blogs for these students is always a highlight within my week, as these students are thoughtful, engaged, and show the promise for a brighter future. I am thankful that I get to teach, in general, but especially that I have such great students. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!