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The Constitutional Presidency

, 384 pages

1 line drawing

June 2009



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The Constitutional Presidency

Since 1981, when Joseph M. Bessette and Jeffrey K. Tulis first published The Presidency in the Constitutional Order, the study of the constitutional powers of the presidency has advanced considerably. Bessette and Tulis continue the conversation almost 30 years later, presenting original research on the most significant issues regarding presidential power and the Constitution.

After introducing and identifying the main approaches to the study of the constitutional presidency and the nature of executive power, Bessette and Tulis, along with other constitutional scholars, cover a wide range of topics. These include the logic and meaning of Article II of the Constitution; the constitutional and political debate over Washington’s Proclamation of Neutrality of 1793; the contribution of Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft to the constitutional foundations of the modern presidency; the controversy over the presidential election of 2000 and the Supreme Court’s decision in Bush v. Gore; military tribunals and the war on terrorism; executive orders; growing presidential influence over the budgeting process; executive privilege; impeachment; and demagoguery in democratic regimes.

The book conjoins political and legal modes of analysis and shows how constitutional interpretation is indispensable to an adequate description of political behavior and serves as the source of standards for evaluating presidential conduct. The contributors offer new and distinctive arguments, especially in light of the renewed debate over executive power during the George W. Bush administration.

Joseph M. Bessette is the Alice Tweed Tuohy Professor of Government and Ethics at Claremont McKenna College and author of The Mild Voice of Reason: Deliberative Democracy and American National Government. Jeffrey K. Tulis is Associate Professor of Government at the University of Texas at Austin, author of The Rhetorical Presidency, and coeditor of The Johns Hopkins Series in Constitutional Thought.

"Joseph Bessette and Jeffrey Tulis have assembled a cast of leading scholars and fresh voices who show that the promise and perils of executive power rest in the president’s ever changing relationship to the Congress, the Courts, and public opinion. The Constitutional Presidency is must reading for scholars and students who want to understand the executive’s critical, uneasy place in the American political system."

"A wonderful collection that will generate new interest in the ways in which American presidents work under our constitutional structure. The scholarship is sound and the approach is fundamental to our continuing understanding of the political landscape."

"Once again Bessette and Tulis combine their considerable talents to publish a thoughtful collection of essays that explore the reach of presidential power. They underscore that scholarly efforts to study political behavior must carefully consider constitutional sources and limits."