01/12/2006: Super-Duper Extra-Legal Presidency...
David Luban (Guest Blogging at Balkinization) has a great post refuting a host of inane arguments defending CIC and his *Supreme Executive Extra-legal Powers* doctrine:
"...Mansfield defends the monarchical executive through philosophical abstractions ("executive power represents necessity", "The Constitution mixes choice and necessity"). The article is loaded with gravitas, and Mansfield obviously wants to sound deep.
But the depth is all on the surface. Read with care, Mansfield's arguments are profoundly silly.
3. "...extra-legal powers such as commanding the military, making treaties (and carrying on foreign policy), and pardoning the convicted, not to mention a veto of legislation. To confirm the extra-legal character of the presidency, the Constitution has him take an oath not to execute the laws but to execute the office of president, which is larger." Dishonesty piled on dishonesty; three of them in the first sentence alone:
A. "extra-legal powers such as commanding the military." Not an extra-legal power, because military commanders are governed by law and were at the time of the framing. The American articles of war of 1775 and 1776 require soldiers to obey lawful orders.
B. "extra-legal powers such as making treaties". Huh? Treaties require senate advice and consent, and at that point they become law. Nothing extra-legal there.
C. "...pardoning the convicted." I suppose it's an extra-legal power, although in practice a pretty trivial one. But criminal juries also have the power of nullification, so this isn't a uniquely executive power.
D. "...veto of legislation." Not an extra-legal power, since the veto can be overridden. All the veto really means is that the President can force Congress to pass legislation by a super-majority rather than a simple majority. It's a wrinkle in the law, not a violation of it.
As for the second sentence, it conveniently mentions the oath clause and ignores the take care clause. The President shall (i.e., is required to) take care that the laws are faithfully executed.
So everything in these two sentences except "pardoning the convicted" is nonsense.
The full article is worth a read through too.
Karen on 01.12.06 @ 05:57 PM CST