Professor Elizabeth Joh helps an anxious Roman Mars make sense of the maelstrom of news by teaching us all Constitutional Law

Law-Free Zone

Ep. 79 | | Download | Transcript

The concept of presidential immunity is not explicitly stated anywhere in the Constitution. That hasn’t stopped the Supreme Court from essentially creating what Justice Sonia Sotomayor called "a law-free zone around the President."

What does this mean for the criminal cases against former President Trump? And what are the implications for the office of the presidency?

Note: this episode was recorded before the assassination attempt on President Trump.

The Disqualification Clause

Ep. 78 | | Download | Transcript

In the aftermath of the Civil War, the Disqualification Clause was adopted to ensure that former officials and soldiers in the Confederacy would be barred from serving in public office.

And for the first time in 153 years, an elected official has been disqualified for future office for his role in an insurrection: a New Mexico county commissioner who marched to the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Voters have filed lawsuits against Trump, arguing that the former president’s role in inciting his followers to disrupt the election certification makes him an insurrectionist, and therefore, disqualified from becoming president again. What does all this mean for Trump and his 2024 presidential candidacy?


Ep. 77 | | Download | Transcript

Gag orders are usually put in place to protect a defendant's right to a fair trial by limiting inflammatory statements. What happens when it's the defendant making the inflammatory statements and that defendant is a current candidate and former President of the United States?

Margarine, Meadows, and Removal

Ep. 76 | | Download | Transcript

On August 14, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis announced that the grand jury had returned a criminal indictment against Trump and eighteen other defendants for what they did in the days and weeks after the 2020 election. The story told by the indictment is that this group were part of a criminal enterprise that worked towards one singular goal: overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia.

One of the people indicted is former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows. He is trying to get his case tried in federal court instead of Georgia state court. 

In his petition, Meadows cites a 1899 case about margarine.  Yes, margarine.

Comstock Zombies

Ep. 75 | | Download | Transcript

19th century "zombie" laws are shambling into the abortion debate. The Comstock Act of 1873 made it illegal to send “obscene, lewd or lascivious,” “immoral,” or “indecent” material through the mail. Does that include abortion pills?


Professor Elizabeth Joh teaches Intro to Constitutional Law and most of the time this is a pretty straight forward job. But when Trump came into office, everything changed. During the four years of the Trump presidency, Professor Joh would check Twitter five minutes before each class to find out what the 45th President had said and how it jibes with 200 years of the judicial branch interpreting and ruling on the Constitution. Acclaimed podcaster Roman Mars (99% Invisible) was so anxious about all the norms and laws being tested in the Trump era that he asked his neighbor, Elizabeth, to explain what was going on in the world from a Constitutional law perspective. Even after Trump left office, there is still so much for Roman to learn. What Roman Mars Can Learn About Con Law is a weekly, fun, casual Con Law 101 class that uses the tumultuous activities of the executive and legislative branches to teach us all about the US Constitution.

All music for the show comes from Doomtree, an independent hip-hop collective and record label based in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

About The Hosts

Elizabeth Joh

Elizabeth Joh is a law professor at the University of California, Davis, School of Law, where she teaches constitutional law and criminal procedure (that’s constitutional law, too). She’s written widely on law and emerging technologies, and has provided commentary for the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Slate.

Roman Mars

Roman Mars is the host and creator of 99% Invisible, a long running podcast about design, architecture, and other sundry topics. The show won the Webby Award for Best Podcast in 2016 and Mars won the Webby Award for Best Host in 2017. Fast Company named him one of the 100 Most Creative People in 2013. He was a TED main stage speaker in 2015. It is currently the most popular TED Talk about design with over 6.5 million views. 99% Invisible was part of the first cohort of podcasts to be archived in the Library of Congress.

© What Roman Mars Can Learn About Con Law