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Unitary Executive Theory
By Cartoon: RJ Matson of The New York Observer
Project: Cynthia Kirkeby, ClassBrain
Feb 23, 2006, 09:06 PST

RJ Matson of The New York Observer

Unitary Executive Theory

According to Wikipedia, "the unitary executive theory (UET), ... is a theory of Constitutional interpretation that ... argues that the power of Congress to divest the President of control of the executive branch is limited."

"Proponents of the theory argue that the President possesses all of the executive power and therefore he can control subordinate officers and agencies of the executive branch. This implies that the power of Congress to remove exective agencies or officers from Presidential control is limited. Thus, under the unitary exective theory, independent agencies and counsels are unconstitutional to the extent that they exercise discretionary executive power, not controlled by the President (Wikipedia)."

"Critics of the theory point out that

  1. the Constitution grants Congress the exclusive power to "make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution... all... Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof";
  2. that the Constitution grants Congress the exclusive power "To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces";
  3. that the Constitution specifically obligates the President to "take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed", where the "Laws" are defined as that which the Congress has the exclusive power to pass;
  4. that in every single Supreme Court case involving a statutory restriction of the power of the President, the statute has been upheld, including several in which the statute was only held to imply the limitation on Presidential power, ...;
  5. and that the phrase "unitary executive" that was discussed in the Constitutional Convention referred merely to having a single individual fill the office of President rather than have a voting body in charge of the executive branch....(Wikipedia)."

    Questions to Ponder

    How much power should the President have?

    Do you think that the President should hold the ultimate power as proposed by the UET, or is the traditionally viewed division of power within the US government a more reasonable approach?"

    What are the pitfalls of the UET?

    What would the benefits of the UET include?

    Would adoption of the UET further weaken states powers?

    How much power should be invested in any one man/woman?

    Do we have enough safeguards in place to protect us from a President that was unethical or perhaps even mentally unstable if the US actually adopted the view of the UET?

    Learning Links

    Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy
    This special section devoted to this issue is extremely thorough and informative. This is a must read for anyone interested in the issue.
    Source: Wikipedia

    The Unitary Executive Theory
    Read the rest of the arguments related to the UET. This article also includes a look at how Presidents have overstepped their boundaries during their terms.
    Source: Wikipedia

    The Unitary Executive: Is The Doctrine Behind the Bush Presidency Consistent with a Democratic State?
    Source: Jennifer Van Bergen, Findlaw

    Supreme Court Testimony Of Laurence H. Tribe
    Source: Laurence H. Tribe, Professor of Constitutional Law, Harvard Law School

    © Copyright 2006 by

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