Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Centralization of Executive Power # Liberal Democracy in Crisis

In a book I published some years back, Governmentality, Biopower, and Everyday Life (2008), I describe the centralization of executive power amplified by the "war on terror."

Analysis by US historians reveals that executive power has been consolidated across the 20th century.

The Bush-Cheney administration created the paper trial allowing the executive to be placed above the law itself, as illustrated in this passage from my book:

For four years, Vice President Cheney has claimed that his office is exempt from federal orders regulating handing of security information; he recently tried to abolish the office responsible for enforcing those orders (Baker, 2007).  
President Bush has claimed unprecedented presidential authority and has argued he is not subject to bills he authorizes (Weisman, 2007).  
The 2007 nominee for Attorney General, Mr. Mukasey, echoed the administration’s prevailing attitude that the U.S. presidency defines the parameters and applications of law, including constitutional law, stating the U.S. president has the capacity of “putting somebody within the law” (cited in Shenon, 2007, p. A1). 
Now we see that this tactic for consolidating executive power is being deployed by Trump's administration:
Rosalind S. Helderman (June 2 2018). In secret memo, Trump lawyers argued he has complete power over justice investigations and could not have committed obstruction. The Washington Post,
Lawyers for President Trump argued in a secret memo submitted to special counsel Robert S. Mueller III in January that Trump could not have obstructed the FBI’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election in part because, as president, he holds complete control over federal investigations.

The president has the power to “order the termination of an investigation by the Justice Department or FBI at any time and for any reason,” Trump lawyers John Dowd and Jay Sekulow argued in the letter to Mueller, which was published Saturday by the New York Times.
The centralization of executive power threatens democracy at a foundational level.



  1. Actually Yale Law professor Akhil Amar, who is clearly a liberal, points out how early presidents like Jefferson did in fact dictate to the AG. Article 2 clearly gives the President enormous power though not unlimited power; and mentions impeachment by the Congress. The Decision of 1789 allows the president to fire whomever he wishes at will and not for cause. He could have given as his reason for firing Comey that he was too tall!
    Looking at Article II you will not find either the DOJ or the FBI. These are creatures of the Executive. They are not quasi independent branches of gov though our slip and fall attorneys seem to think so. Most lawyers have only a vague idea of the Constitution.
    The positions taken by Trump's attorneys in no way violate the Constitution. You might want to read these two books by Prof Amar: America's Constitution and America's Unwritten Constitution, at which point you will know more about Constitutional Law than almost all attorneys. The books are well written and easy to follow.
    As with so many subjects treated by the media you can not be too careful. I am sure you encounter pop sociology all the time. Likewise there is a lot of pop law around. If you doubt my recommendations ask someone your law school, but keep in mind that Yale is the number 1 law school at this time.
    Finally it the President's responsibility to see that the laws of the nation are faithfully executed. The DOJ and FBI can either help or hinder him in this role.

  2. As regards the Cheney-Bush behaviors Andrew McCarthy would be a good attorney to consult. You might contact him and see what his opinion is. Without the whole context and far more legal experience than I have I really can form no opinion. If you were to study Lincoln and his behavior regarding the Constitution and Federal law I think you would find both Bush and Trump pretty tame. Obama on the other hand was pretty lawless. It has just come out that he made secret banking deals with Iran which no doubt violated the law. You may have noticed that the liberal professor Alan Dershowitz has generally taken Trump's defense in legal matters. But he voted for Hillary!




    US fingerprints all over uprising in nicaragua

  6. Look at the middle picture of Trump on these magazine covers. Slits for eyes. Just glazed and messed up, as heck.

    Trumps looks so heavily medicated, it is byond belief! Or perhaps something worse! Saw him On TV news, yesterday. Rerely watch tv. Looked the same as this photo, so this is not doctored. Heavy duty puppet mastering going on! Probly worse than w crackhead bush, raygun,or ObamO!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.