The Obama War Powers Legacy and the Internal Forces that Entrench Executive Power
110 American Journal of International Law 680 (2016)
21 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2016 Last revised: 24 Mar 2017
Date Written: October 15, 2016
In exploring the Obama war powers legacy, this essay examines the systemic forces inside the executive branch that influence modern presidential decision-making and, barring a total reimagining of the executive branch, will operate on administrations to come. These mechanisms and norms fall broadly within two categories: (1) features that favor continuity and hinder presidents from effecting change, including both novel assertions of executive power and attempts to dial back that power; and (2) features that incrementally aggrandize such power claims. Together, these two sets of forces operate as a one-way ratchet, slowly expanding and ultimately entrenching executive branch power.
Keywords: obama administration, bush administration, trump administration, executive branch, presidential powers, executive branch lawyering, war powers, international law, military detention, targeting
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