Faculty Profiles

Jon 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

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

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, August 26, at 4pm
 2.  Sunday, September 23, at 4pm
 3.  Sunday, October 14, at 4pm
 4.  Sunday, January 27, at 4pm
 5.  Sunday, February 24, at 4pm