I submitted the manuscript for this book on Election Day, November 9, 2016. I had asked my publisher for an extension, as I wanted to write an afterword that would establish the continued relevance of what had occurred during the previous two administrations. I had a considerably more hectic day than had anticipated.

     The task I had set for myself was to demonstrate that the precedents that were generated during the Bush and Obama Administrations for the boundaries of executive power (which I had demonstrated were largely consistent) would set the parameters for the new presidency. Little did I know that what I had warned about--handing expansive powers to a strongman with no commitment to the rule of law--was come about not in the distant future, but the immediate present.

      Dick Cheney was asked (by a commentator with a misplaced sense of schadenfreude) about his legacy after President Obama's victory in 2008. He responded that he was proud that he left the presidency stronger than he had found it. (This had in fact been his goal since he served as Ford's Chief of Staff, decrying the post-Watergate restrictions on the executive).

      Barack Obama could certainly have said the same, and would likely have done so with pride had Hilary Clinton secured the presidency. This is not merely because of his reliance on Executive Orders to push through social policy measures on issues like health care and immigration. He also developed and refined Bush-era policies of executive supremacy over "national security", as exemplified by David Barron and Martin Lederman's secret White Paper establishing the constitutionality of a drone strike on an American citizen.

      Trump now has control of these extensive presidential powers. He can also rely on a number of precedents, which will put Congress in the courts in a difficult position if they seek to challenge them. Interesting times, as the curse says. I'll do my best to chronicle these in an illuminating manner here.

 


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