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Master Class II: Presidential Power and the Constitution

Professor Glenn Smith

All modern presidents push the edge of the constitutional envelope, and President Trump has certainly been no exception. This five-session course will take a comprehensive look at how current constitutional doctrines limit — and, equally important, do not limit — assertions of presidential power over domestic and foreign affairs. Emphasizing recent controversies about actions by Presidents Trump, Obama, and George W. Bush, the course will place those disputes in a broader context. The lectures will be designed to make us more knowledgeable consumers of news and commentary on the constitutional fights that inevitably arise as modern presidents seek to influence events in an increasingly complex world.

May 2: Overall Context

Presidential power in its historical and constitutional context, with special emphasis on the “formalistic” and “pragmatic” approaches the Supreme Court used to invalidate President Truman’s Korean-war-era order seizing the nation’s steel mills.

May 9: Presidents and Appointment

Presidential power to appoint (and remove) high-ranking executive-branch officials and to appoint federal judges — and the role of the Congress in limiting presidential appointment prerogatives.

May 16: Presidents and Immigration

The legal controversies over President Obama’s Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA) program and President Trump’s travel ban as case studies in controlling presidential power at the intersection of foreign and domestic affairs.

May 23: Let’s Get Domestic

What modern court rulings tell us (and leave unclear) about presidential power over economic, environmental, and other domestic policies.

May 30: Going Abroad/Course Wrap-Up

What modern court rulings tell us (and leave unclear) about presidential power over foreign affairs, war, and diplomacy. What, if any, common themes emerge from the various course topics?

Instructor: Glenn Smith is Professor of Law at California Western School of Law, where he teaches and writes primarily about the Supreme Court and constitutional law. A longtime Osher favorite, he is also a Visiting Professor of Political Science at UCSD, a frequent media commentator on current constitutional controversies, and co-author of Constitutional Law for Dummies.

Coordinators: Mark Evans

Course Number: OSHR-70056   Credit: 0 units


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Upcoming Sections

Dates Class Type Section ID Fee Status
05/02/2018 - 05/30/2018 In-class 131095 $10.00 Closed

Day and Time: Wednesday, 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Location: Room 129, UCSD Extension Complex, 9600 N. Torrey Pines Rd., La Jolla