The constitutional framers created a system of checks and balances, including an independent judiciary, precisely because they foresaw the rise of someone who, like Donald Trump, won the presidency on a message that citizens couldn’t trust the system and only he could fix it, Yale Law Professor Jack Balkin told a Tulane University Law School audience Feb. 22.
“They knew that power is something people grasp at. They knew people lose faith and trust in their institutions. They wanted to create a system that would survive even those difficult and dark times,” Balkin said at the Dermot S. McGlinchey Lecture on Federal Litigation.
“The question before us now — what constitutional time is it? — is whether they prepared well enough. I think they did.”
Balkin, one of the nation’s best-known constitutional theorists, said Trump thus far resembles Jimmy Carter more than other recent presidents: even though he came into office with his party holding majorities in both houses of Congress, he could have trouble keeping things together.
“The fact that he comes in with Republicans controlling all the levers of power doesn’t mean he’s not in a weak position,” Balkin said.
The lecture honors attorney and civic activist Dermot S. McGlinchey (A&S ’54, L ’57) and is permanently endowed and sponsored by the McGlinchey Stafford firm, which he co-founded with Graham Stafford in 1974.