Collaborative Departmentalism

67 Pages Posted: 10 Jul 2012 Last revised: 5 Feb 2016

See all articles by Matthew J. Steilen

Matthew J. Steilen

State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo, Law School

Date Written: October 1, 2012


This article examines the effect of departmentalism on presidential compliance with constitutional law. Most commentators agree that departmentalism weakens the influence of courts in the determination of constitutional meaning and the control of non-judicial actors. The article takes a different view. It defines “moderate departmentalism” as the authority of the President to refuse to adopt a constitutional interpretation announced by the Supreme Court. Drawing on ideas developed in the literature on “new governance” and administrative law, it then argues that moderate departmentalism increases the capacity of the federal courts to control presidential conduct.

Keywords: departmentalism, presidential review, executive review, take care clause, judicial supremacy, popular constitutionalism, separation of powers, non-enforcement, new governance, collaborative governance

Suggested Citation

Steilen, Matthew J., Collaborative Departmentalism (October 1, 2012). 61 Buffalo Law Review 345 (2013). Available at SSRN: or

Matthew J. Steilen (Contact Author)

State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo, Law School ( email )

School of Law
528 O'Brian Hall
Buffalo, NY 14260-1100
United States

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