“The Constitution is a lovely parchment, and it’s a beautiful document … but unless we keep it alive in the way we conduct ourselves politically as citizens, and office holders in particular, it’s not gonna be worth much more than the parchment it was written on.”
When it comes to the study of the Constitution, there is no one better to talk to than Harvard Law School professor Laurence Tribe. And if you follow him on Twitter, you know that he is very worried about our nation’s foundational document. “Worry alone won’t help,” Tribe told me in the latest episode of “Cape Up.” “We should actually put pressure on members of Congress to take their responsibilities of oversight and checking really seriously.”
Tribe is part of a lawsuit to force President Trump to sell off his assets so that he is not in violation of the emoluments clause of the Constitution. “It hasn’t been the subject of much public attention since the beginning of the Republic, because other presidents have been normal,” Tribe said. The suit is a long shot, but it is a gamble worth taking since a Republican-controlled Congress so far is unwilling to serve as a check on its party leader in the Oval Office.
The litigation also highlights Tribe’s enduring faith in the legal system. “[T]he independent judiciary really is our last best hope,” he said, “in terms of enforcing the rule of law and protecting vulnerable values and vulnerable groups from those in positions of power.” And that, of course, led us to talk about the Supreme Court.
Listen to the podcast to find out why I called Tribe the Beyonce of constitutional law professors, hear what he thinks Democrats should do about the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the high court and what he expects the justices to do if presented with the legal excesses of Trump. The best part is when he talks about his students, who have included former President Obama and current chief justice John Roberts. You’ll never guess what grade Tribe would give Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) today.