The President Who Would Not Be King: Executive Power and the Constitution

November 28, 2018
UCHV lecture

Michael W. McConnellRichard and Frances Mallery Professor and Director of the Constitutional Law Center, Stanford Law School; Senior Fellow, The Hoover Institution; Commentators: Gillian MetzgerStanley H. Fuld Professor of Law, Columbia Law SchoolEric NelsonRobert M. Beren Professor of Government, Harvard UniversityJeffrey Tulis, Associate Professor of Government, University of TexasAmanda Tyler, Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley School of Law

Professor McConnell’s lectures will address executive power and its limits under the U.S. Constitution.  His lectures will argue that the actual process of formulating the executive power at the Constitutional Convention has mostly been overlooked, perhaps because the real work was done by three committees operating behind the scenes. What they accomplished is more nuanced than either of the two major conflicting views taken today; the resulting system differs in many respects from the current conventional understanding, but it is neither more aggressively executive nor anti-executive; it is merely different in lots of interesting ways.

McConnell will also address important issues facing separation of powers today, including the problem of the administrative state.  He will present a new approach to the delegation question, including a presidentialist view of supervision of executive officers and an anti-presidentialist view of non-enforcement.  His second lecture will address the powers of peace and war, in which he will claim that the president does not have the exclusive power over foreign affairs that the Court attributes to it, a defense of a narrow understanding of the Commander in Chief power, and a moderate interpretation of presidential authority to initiate hostilities.

Tanner Lectures on Human Values

Organized by the University Center for Human Values in conjunction with the Princeton University President's Office


Friend Center 101

Cosponsored by:

  • James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions