Because of the power-fearing drafters of the U.S. Constitution, the president’s tools for influencing Congress are quite limited. Presidents have had to look beyond the formal powers of the office to push a legislative agenda. In Between the Branches, a book of unprecedented depth, Kenneth Collier traces the evolution of White House influence in Congress over nine adminstrations, from Eisenhower to Clinton. It will enlighten students of the presidency, Congress, and all those interested in American politics.
Keith E. WHITTINGTON Harvard University Press, 1999 Library of Congress KF4552.W48 1999 | Dewey Decimal 342.7302
Controlling the State
Scott GORDON Harvard University Press, 1999 Library of Congress JF229.G67 1999 | Dewey Decimal 321.801
This book examines the development of the theory and practice of constitutionalism, defined as a political system in which the coercive power of the state is controlled through a pluralistic distribution of political power. It explores the main venues of constitutional practice in ancient Athens, Republican Rome, Renaissance Venice, the Dutch Republic, seventeenth-century England, and eighteenth-century America.
From its beginning in Polybius' interpretation of the classical concept of "mixed government," the author traces the theory of constitutionalism through its late medieval appearance in the Conciliar Movement of church reform and in the Huguenot defense of minority rights. After noting its suppression with the emergence of the nation-state and the Bodinian doctrine of "sovereignty," the author describes how constitutionalism was revived in the English conflict between king and Parliament in the early Stuart era, and how it has developed since then into the modern concept of constitutional democracy.
Divided Power is a collection of eight original essays written for the Fulbright Institute of International Relations that focuses on timely yet unanswerable questions about the relationship between the executive and legislative branches in the formation of American foreign policy. In trying to answer questions about what the nationâ€™s foreign policy is, and who has the upper hand in making it, these essays examine the struggle between the constant of the division of powers mandated by the Constitution (ambiguous though it may be) and the ever-changing political realities and conventional wisdoms of the day. Within that context, the authors also examine the society and culture in which those realities and wisdoms are nested. The goal of these essays is to offer a snapshot in time of the interaction of the executive and legislative branches in the shaping of our foreign policy, framed and informed by the intellectual and political realities that characterize the postâ€“Cold War, postâ€“September 11 world.
Based on seven years of archival research, the book describes previously unknown aspects of the electoral college crisis of 1800, presenting a revised understanding of the early days of two great institutions that continue to have a major impact on American history: the plebiscitarian presidency and a Supreme Court that struggles to put the presidency's claims of a popular mandate into constitutional perspective. Through close studies of two Supreme Court cases, Ackerman shows how the court integrated Federalist and Republican themes into the living Constitution of the early republic.
The founding fathers emphasized a system in which “the people” were allowed to play only a limited role. Radical democrats insisted that the people, and only the people, should rule. Anthony King shows how this initial conflict has played out in the turmoil of our nation’s public life, and he offers a way to address it.
The George W. Bush administration’s ambitious—even breathtaking—claims of unilateral executive authority raised deep concerns among constitutional scholars, civil libertarians, and ordinary citizens alike. But Bush’s attempts to assert his power are only the culmination of a near-thirty-year assault on the basic checks and balances of the U.S. government—a battle waged by presidents of both parties, and one that, as Peter M. Shane warns in Madison’s Nightmare, threatens to utterly subvert the founders’ vision of representative government.
Tracing this tendency back to the first Reagan administration, Shane shows how this era of "aggressive presidentialism" has seen presidents exerting ever more control over nearly every arena of policy, from military affairs and national security to domestic programs. Driven by political ambition and a growing culture of entitlement in the executive branch—and abetted by a complaisant Congress, riven by partisanship—this presidential aggrandizement has too often undermined wise policy making and led to shallow, ideological, and sometimes outright lawless decisions. The solution, Shane argues, will require a multipronged program of reform, including both specific changes in government practice and broader institutional changes aimed at supporting a renewed culture of government accountability.
From the war on science to the mismanaged war on terror, Madison’s Nightmare outlines the disastrous consequences of the unchecked executive—and issues a stern wake-up call to all who care about the fate of our long democratic experiment.
The functioning of the U.S. government is a bit messier than Americans would like to think. The general understanding of policymaking has Congress making the laws, executive agencies implementing them, and the courts applying the laws as written—as long as those laws are constitutional. Making Policy, Making Law fundamentally challenges this conventional wisdom, arguing that no dominant institution—or even a roughly consistent pattern of relationships—exists among the various players in the federal policymaking process. Instead, at different times and under various conditions, all branches play roles not only in making public policy, but in enforcing and legitimizing it as well. This is the first text that looks in depth at this complex interplay of all three branches.
The common thread among these diverse patterns is an ongoing dialogue among roughly coequal actors in various branches and levels of government. Those interactions are driven by processes of conflict and persuasion distinctive to specific policy arenas as well as by the ideas, institutional realities, and interests of specific policy communities. Although complex, this fresh examination does not render the policymaking process incomprehensible; rather, it encourages scholars to look beyond the narrow study of individual institutions and reach across disciplinary boundaries to discover recurring patterns of interbranch dialogue that define (and refine) contemporary American policy.
Making Policy, Making Law provides a combination of contemporary policy analysis, an interbranch perspective, and diverse methodological approaches that speak to a surprisingly overlooked gap in the literature dealing with the role of the courts in the American policymaking process. It will undoubtedly have significant impact on scholarship about national lawmaking, national politics, and constitutional law. For scholars and students in government and law—as well as for concerned citizenry—this book unravels the complicated interplay of governmental agencies and provides a heretofore in-depth look at how the U.S. government functions in reality.
The idea that the three branches of U.S. government are equal in power is taught in classrooms, proclaimed by politicians, and referenced in the media. But, as David Siemers shows, that idea is a myth, neither intended by the Founders nor true in practice. Siemers explains how adherence to this myth normalizes a politics of gridlock, in which the action of any branch can be checked by the reaction of any other. The Founders, however, envisioned a separation of functions rather than a separation of powers. Siemers argues that this view needs to replace our current view, so that the goals set out in the Constitution’s Preamble may be better achieved.
Throughout American history, presidents have shown a startling power to act independently of Congress and the courts. On their own initiative, presidents have taken the country to war, abolished slavery, shielded undocumented immigrants from deportation, declared a national emergency at the border, and more, leading many to decry the rise of an imperial presidency. But given the steep barriers that usually prevent Congress and the courts from formally checking unilateral power, what stops presidents from going it alone even more aggressively? The answer, Dino P. Christenson and Douglas L. Kriner argue, lies in the power of public opinion.
With robust empirical data and compelling case studies, the authors reveal the extent to which domestic public opinion limits executive might. Presidents are emboldened to pursue their own agendas when they enjoy strong public support, and constrained when they don’t, since unilateral action risks inciting political pushback, jeopardizing future initiatives, and further eroding their political capital. Although few Americans instinctively recoil against unilateralism, Congress and the courts can sway the public’s view via their criticism of unilateral policies. Thus, other branches can still check the executive branch through political means. As long as presidents are concerned with public opinion, Christenson and Kriner contend that fears of an imperial presidency are overblown.
Politicians and pundits alike have complained that the divided governments of the last decades have led to legislative gridlock. Not so, argues Keith Krehbiel, who advances the provocative theory that divided government actually has little effect on legislative productivity. Gridlock is in fact the order of the day, occurring even when the same party controls the legislative and executive branches. Meticulously researched and anchored to real politics, Krehbiel argues that the pivotal vote on a piece of legislation is not the one that gives a bill a simple majority, but the vote that allows its supporters to override a possible presidential veto or to put a halt to a filibuster. This theory of pivots also explains why, when bills are passed, winning coalitions usually are bipartisan and supermajority sized. Offering an incisive account of when gridlock is overcome and showing that political parties are less important in legislative-executive politics than previously thought, Pivotal Politics remakes our understanding of American lawmaking.
Scholars have long debated the meaning of the pursuit of happiness, yet have tended to define it narrowly, focusing on a single intellectual tradition, and on the use of the term within a single text, the Declaration of Independence. In this insightful volume, Carli Conklin considers the pursuit of happiness across a variety of intellectual traditions, and explores its usage in two key legal texts of the Founding Era, the Declaration and William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England.
For Blackstone, the pursuit of happiness was a science of jurisprudence, by which his students could know, and then rightly apply, the first principles of the Common Law. For the founders, the pursuit of happiness was the individual right to pursue a life lived in harmony with the law of nature and a public duty to govern in accordance with that law. Both applications suggest we consider anew how the phrase, and its underlying legal philosophies, were understood in the founding era. With this work, Conklin makes important contributions to the fields of early American intellectual and legal history.