Law 561A/B - Law and Lawlessness in the Age of Trump

Jon D. Michaels

Jon D. Michaels

Professor of Law
B.A. Williams College, 1998
B.A. University of Oxford, 2000
M.A. University of Oxford, 2006
J.D. Yale, 2003
UCLA Faculty Since 2008
Course Description:

Among law students, the Trump presidency may seem like one giant “issue spotter,” with daily reports of missteps and misdeeds dominating the headlines.  This seminar provides an opportunity to go beyond the 24-hour news cycle to examine, critically analyze, and put into broader historical and comparative perspective some of the most pressing challenges, dangers, and opportunities we encounter today.

Specifically, this seminar will zero in on: 

(1) Independent Counsels, Special Prosecutors, and Impeachment, with consideration of Watergate, the Starr Investigation, and the impeachment of Andrew Johnson 
(2) Resistance, with special emphasis on the acts and expressions of defiance from within the Executive Branch.  
(3) Constitutional esoterica, with deep dives into the Emoluments Clause and the Twenty-Fifth Amendment, coupled with broader discussions of government ethics and professional competence.  
(4) “Bully” Pulpit, with a focus on domestic and foreign case studies involving governmental campaigns to belittle, delegitimize, and demonize political  and legal critics and rivals.  
(5) Martialization, with study of how military culture, military might, and military expertise may take on greater or lesser importance in a given presidential administration.  

Each of the five topics is quite broad, but the assignments will focus our attention and provide a common foundation for our discussions and inquiries.  Accordingly, there is no expectation that students will have engaged in any prior study of these topics.  Students will, however, be expected to actively participate and contribute, and should appreciate that our inquiries will undoubtedly invite consideration of sensitive and controversial questions (which we will, of course, address with civility and respect).

Given the rapidly changing political and legal landscape, I reserve the right to substitute or reconfigure the topics as need be.  

Dates, Times, and Expected Locations:  

Classes will take place at the instructor’s home, at the following dates and times:
 1.  Sunday, September 8, at 4pm
 2.  Sunday, October 6, at 4pm
 3.  Sunday, November 3, at 4pm
 4.  Sunday, January 26, at 4pm
 5.  Sunday, February 23, at 4pm

Course Learning Outcomes:


Course Information:
​Faculty Term Course Section ​Schedule ​Units Requisite Satisfies SAW
Jon Michaels 19F 561A SEM 7 Unscheduled 0.5 No No
  Course meets 4:00pm - 6:30pm on 9/8, 10/6, 11/3, 1/26, 2/23. Third year students have priority to enroll during first pass.
Jon Michaels 20S 561B SEM 7 Unscheduled 0.5 No No
  Second part of a yearlong course. The Records Office will process enrollment for this course. Course meets 4:00pm - 6:30pm on 9/8, 10/6, 11/3, 1/26, 2/23.