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Supreme Court Expansion of Presidential Power: Unconstitutional Leanings

Louis Fisher
Format
Book
Published
Lawrence, Kansas : University Press of Kansas, 2017.
Language
English
ISBN
9780700624676 (hardback), 9780700624683 (ebook)
Summary
"In the fourth of the Federalist Papers, published in 1787, John Jay warned of absolute monarchs who "will often make war when their nations are to get nothing by it." More than two centuries later, are single executives making unilateral decisions any more trustworthy? And have the checks on executive power, so critical in the Founders' drafting of the Constitution, held? These are the questions Louis Fisher pursues in this book. By examining the executive actions of American presidents, particularly after World War II, Fisher reveals how the Supreme Court, through errors and abdications, has expanded presidential power in external affairs beyond constitutional boundaries—and damaged the nation's system of checks and balances. Supreme Court Expansion of Presidential Power reviews the judicial record from 1789 to the present day to show how the balance of power has shifted over time. For nearly a century and a half, the Supreme Court did not indicate a preference for which of the two elected branches should dominate in the field of external affairs. But from the mid-thirties a pattern clearly emerges, with the Court regularly supporting independent presidential power in times of "emergency," or issues linked to national security. The damage this has done to democracy and constitutional government is profound, Fisher argues. His evidence extends beyond external affairs to issues of domestic policy, such as impoundment of funds, legislative vetoes, item-veto authority, presidential immunity in the Paula Jones case, recess appointments, and the Obama administration's immigration initiatives. Fisher identifies contemporary biases that have led to an increase in presidential power--including Supreme Court misconceptions and errors, academic failings, and mistaken beliefs about "inherent powers" and "unity of office." Calling to account the forces tasked with protecting our democracy from the undue exercise of power by any single executive, his deeply informed book sounds a compelling alarm. "--
"Fisher traces the development of the constitutional law of presidential power through federal judicial decisions. He argues that the federal courts since the 1930s have greatly expanded presidential power beyond any fair reading of the original intent of the Framers and the text of the Constitution. Fisher's conclusion is twofold : not only should the courts be held accountable for misleading approaches, biased doctrines, and abdication of function, but so should constitutional law scholars, who have not mined the historical record nor questioned presumptions about executive competence. The result is that both judges and the scholars who comment on their work have legitimized executive power to an extent that has done serious damage not only to the constitutional system, but also to the viability and legitimacy of public policy"--
Description
pages cm
Notes
Includes index.
Technical Details
  • Staff View

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    a| "In the fourth of the Federalist Papers, published in 1787, John Jay warned of absolute monarchs who "will often make war when their nations are to get nothing by it." More than two centuries later, are single executives making unilateral decisions any more trustworthy? And have the checks on executive power, so critical in the Founders' drafting of the Constitution, held? These are the questions Louis Fisher pursues in this book. By examining the executive actions of American presidents, particularly after World War II, Fisher reveals how the Supreme Court, through errors and abdications, has expanded presidential power in external affairs beyond constitutional boundaries&#8212and damaged the nation's system of checks and balances. Supreme Court Expansion of Presidential Power reviews the judicial record from 1789 to the present day to show how the balance of power has shifted over time. For nearly a century and a half, the Supreme Court did not indicate a preference for which of the two elected branches should dominate in the field of external affairs. But from the mid-thirties a pattern clearly emerges, with the Court regularly supporting independent presidential power in times of "emergency," or issues linked to national security. The damage this has done to democracy and constitutional government is profound, Fisher argues. His evidence extends beyond external affairs to issues of domestic policy, such as impoundment of funds, legislative vetoes, item-veto authority, presidential immunity in the Paula Jones case, recess appointments, and the Obama administration's immigration initiatives. Fisher identifies contemporary biases that have led to an increase in presidential power--including Supreme Court misconceptions and errors, academic failings, and mistaken beliefs about "inherent powers" and "unity of office." Calling to account the forces tasked with protecting our democracy from the undue exercise of power by any single executive, his deeply informed book sounds a compelling alarm. "-- c| Provided by publisher.
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    a| "Fisher traces the development of the constitutional law of presidential power through federal judicial decisions. He argues that the federal courts since the 1930s have greatly expanded presidential power beyond any fair reading of the original intent of the Framers and the text of the Constitution. Fisher's conclusion is twofold : not only should the courts be held accountable for misleading approaches, biased doctrines, and abdication of function, but so should constitutional law scholars, who have not mined the historical record nor questioned presumptions about executive competence. The result is that both judges and the scholars who comment on their work have legitimized executive power to an extent that has done serious damage not only to the constitutional system, but also to the viability and legitimacy of public policy"-- c| Provided by publisher.
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