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The Imperial Presidency

The critical tests of the imperial Presidency are threefold: the war making power; the secrecy system; and the employment against the American people of emergency authority acquired for use against foreign enemies.” – Arthur Schlesinger

In Unit 1 you read and analyzed the U.S. Constitution. Now, armed with a textual and nuanced understanding of the U.S. Constitution, including Article II, you may come to the conclusion that the founding fathers, leery of tyrannical monarchs, deliberately made vague the powers and responsibility of the president.

That said, many historians argue that the institution of the presidency has grown over time. In 1973, Arthur Schlesinger Jr. published The Imperial Presidency. Whereas the book examines the history of the presidency since inception, the author focuses on the increasingly expansive executive power of the Nixon presidency. Subsequent scholars have used the term “imperial presidency” to argue that since WWII, that expansion of presidential power and the growth of the federal bureaucracies is a dominant feature of the modern era. (Schlesinger, 1973)

Directions: Using the required, academic readings, and supplemental academic research, please address the following while adhering to the Discussion Board Rubric:

  • Identify the constitutional powers of the presidency.
  • Select two examples of the growth of presidential power during the 20th and 21st centuries.
  • Support your examples with information obtained from the text and at least two academic articles.
  • How does the dramatic growth of the federal bureaucracy affect public policy?
  • Based on your understanding of the U.S. Constitution, how do you understand the increase in presidential power?
    • Does this increase in executive power decrease the authority of the legislative or judicial branch? If so, please provide a specific rationale.

References:
The Constitution of the United States. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.archives.gov/founding-docs/constitution.
Schlesinger, A. M. (1973). The imperial presidency. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

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