Newswise — In the 16th episode of Northwestern Pritzker School of Law’s Planet Lex podcast series, host Dean Daniel Rodriguez talks to former White House Counsel Neil Eggleston JD ’78 and former Federal Communications Commission Chairman Newt Minow JD ’50 about their experiences working for past presidents and their concerns about the Trump administration. They discuss the way we elect our presidents, the failings of the media and whether the government is currently experiencing a moment of constitutional crisis. 

Newt Minow on the checks and balances in government

“I believe that the fundamental structure of our Constitution, three branches of the government is essential to preserving democracy, and I believe democracy will be preserved through the Congress and through the courts. When you get a bad president, there will be something that will happen. Also, I think one day one of the younger Republican senators will wake up in the morning who is ambitious and who wants to be president and he will say to himself, ‘Gee, the way I can become president is if I come out against Trump.’

“One day that will happen. Now that you’ve had particularly with (Sen. Jeff) Flake, and (Sen. John) McCain and (Sen. Bob) Corker, and when that happens I think the Republicans themselves will realize, they will come back to sanity, and the Republic will be preserved.”

Neil Eggleston on whether the government is experiencing a constitutional crisis

“I think we are probably not yet to a position where I would say that we are in a constitutional crisis. To date, he (Trump) has been a lot of talk, but not much has actually happened, obviously almost nothing has happened on a legislative front.

“I think we are seeing the other two branches of government starting to stand up a little bit. I was proud frankly of the judicial branch in connection with particularly the travel ban. I don’t know how travel ban 3.0 is going to turn out or not, but the judicial branch was pretty good at pushing back on what I thought was plainly an illegal attempt by the president to restrict entry into the United States.

“The administration has also tried to undo a number of Obama regulations and courts have made it clear that the only way to get rid of a regulation is with a regulation and has been quite tough on them. So I think the judicial branch is starting to step up a little bit, and I appreciate that.

“And maybe, just maybe seeing people like McCain, Corker, Flake and hopefully there will be others begin to speak out as Republicans, hopefully we will begin to see some of this.”


About Planet Lex

Northwestern Law Dean Rodriguez hosts and the Legal Talk Network produces the Planet Lex podcast series. The podcasts typically feature interviews with prominent Northwestern faculty members, discussing the law’s role in changing global, societal and technological landscapes.

Topics of earlier episodes include defending Brendan Dassey; the evolution of music copyright law; sexual misconduct on campus; the regulation of public corruption; technological advancements and the law; law enforcement and implicit bias; and integrating the law and STEM-focused multidisciplinary education; online privacy and cybersecurity; and the U.S. Supreme Court.

Listen to all 16 episodes.