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http://ssrn.com/abstract=559581
 
 

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The Unitary Executive During the Third Half-Century, 1889-1945


Christopher S. Yoo


University of Pennsylvania Law School; University of Pennsylvania - Annenberg School for Communication; University of Pennsylvania - School of Engineering and Applied Science

Steven G. Calabresi


Northwestern University - School of Law

Laurence Nee


U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California


Vanderbilt Public Law Research Paper No. 04-11; Northwestern Public Law Research Paper No. 04-10

Abstract:     
Recent Supreme Court decisions and the impeachment of President Clinton has reinvigorated the debate over Congress's authority to employ devices such as special counsels and independent agencies to restrict the President's control over the administration of the law. The initial debate focused on whether the Constitution rejected the executive by committee employed by the Articles of the Confederation in favor of a unitary executive, in which all administrative authority is centralized in the President. More recently, the debate has begun to turn towards historical practices. Some scholars have suggested that independent agencies and special counsels have become such established features of the constitutional landscape as to preempt arguments in favor of the unitary executive. Others, led by Bruce Ackerman, have suggested that the New Deal represented a constitutional moment that ratified major changes in the distribution of power within the federal government. To date, however, a complete assessment of the historical record has yet to appear.

This Article is part of a larger project that offers a comprehensive chronicle that places the battles between the President and Congress over control of the administration of federal law in historical perspective. It reviews the period between 1889 and 1945, beginning with the Administration of Benjamin Harrison, ending with the Administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and paying particular attention to FDR's failed attempt to reorganized the executive branch. The record reveals that these Presidents during this period consistently defended the unitariness of the executive branch to a degree sufficient to keep the issue from being foreclosed by history. In fact, the episodes discussed provide eloquent illustrations of the legal and normative arguments supporting the unitary executive.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 111

Keywords: Unitary Executive

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Date posted: June 29, 2004  

Suggested Citation

Yoo, Christopher S. and Calabresi, Steven G. and Nee, Laurence, The Unitary Executive During the Third Half-Century, 1889-1945. Notre Dame Law Review, Vol. 80, November 2004. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=559581

Contact Information

Christopher S. Yoo (Contact Author)
University of Pennsylvania Law School ( email )
3501 Sansom St.
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6204
United States
(215) 746-8772 (Phone)
HOME PAGE: http://www.law.upenn.edu/faculty/csyoo/
University of Pennsylvania - Annenberg School for Communication ( email )
3620 Walnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6220
United States
(215) 746-8772 (Phone)
University of Pennsylvania - School of Engineering and Applied Science ( email )
3330 Walnut St.
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6309
United States
(215) 746-8772 (Phone)
Steven G. Calabresi
Northwestern University - School of Law ( email )
375 E. Chicago Ave
Unit 1505
Chicago, IL 60611
United States

Laurence Nee
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California ( email )
Chambers of Honorable Oliver W. Wanger
Fresno, CA 93721
United States
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