Executive Absolutism: The Dynamics of Authority Acquisition in a System of Separated Powers
72 Pages Posted: 23 Aug 2019 Last revised: 7 Jun 2021
Date Written: August 20, 2019
We study a dynamic model in which a politician (most commonly an executive) makes authority claims that are subject to a hard constraint (administered, typically, by a court). At any period, the court is free to rule against the executive and thereby permanently halt her efforts to acquire more power. Because it appropriately cares about the executive's ability to address real-world disruptions, however, the court is always willing to affirm more authority. Neither robust electoral competition nor alternative characterizations of judicial rule fundamentally alters this state of affairs. Moreover, we show, modest authority claims in one period yield opportunities for more substantial claims in the next. The result is an often persistent accumulation of executive authority and a degradation of judicial checks on presidential power.
Keywords: Authority, Executive Growh, Judicial Decision, Separation of Power, Federalist
JEL Classification: D70, D72, D02, C73, H11, K39
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation