I have studied and taught politics and constitutional law for nearly all of my adult life. I earned a PhD in politics from Princeton and a law degree from Stanford. Since then, I have taught in Brown's political science department and as a visiting professor in the law schools at Fordham, the University of Chicago, and Harvard. The focus of my teaching and writing has been on issues central to our democracy, like free speech, the role of courts in our system of government, and religious freedom.
However, even with this background in politics and law, I was unprepared for anything like the 2016 presidential campaign. Suddenly, proposals to violate the Constitution that had been the stuff of far-fetched classroom hypotheticals became just another part of the agenda for a presidential candidate who would soon win the election. In response to this shock to our democratic system, that summer I began writing a series of articles for Politico, Time.com, and The New York Times. I also began regularly discussing constitutional issues related to the presidency on BBC television and radio programs and on both liberal and conservative radio, including Rising Up With Sonali, The Dan Yorke Show, The David Feldman Show, and John Fugelsang's Tell Me Everything. The hosts and callers on those shows made it clear that a book clarifying the constitutionally-prescribed role of the president was essential. But while those articles and discussions were inspired by the events of 2016, I have endeavored in The Oath and the Office to think seriously about the constitutional limits on the office of president at any point in time. Thus the book draws on stories about past presidents and frames dilemmas that might be faced by future presidents, in an effort to identify some timeless principles that can help to guide us as citizens in an increasingly fragile democracy. I hope you will read it and let me and others know what you think.