Cover: The Living Presidency: An Originalist Argument against Its Ever-Expanding Powers, from Harvard University PressCover: The Living Presidency in HARDCOVER

The Living Presidency

An Originalist Argument against Its Ever-Expanding Powers

Add to Cart

Product Details

HARDCOVER

$29.95 • £23.95 • €27.00

ISBN 9780674987982

Publication Date: 04/21/2020

Trade

352 pages

5-1/2 x 8-1/4 inches

Belknap Press

World

A constitutional originalist sounds the alarm over the presidency’s ever-expanding powers, ascribing them unexpectedly to the liberal embrace of a living Constitution.

Liberal scholars and politicians routinely denounce the imperial presidency—a self-aggrandizing executive that has progressively sidelined Congress. Yet the same people invariably extol the virtues of a living Constitution, whose meaning adapts with the times. Saikrishna Bangalore Prakash argues that these stances are fundamentally incompatible. A constitution prone to informal amendment systematically favors the executive and ensures that there are no enduring constraints on executive power. In this careful study, Prakash contends that an originalist interpretation of the Constitution can rein in the “living presidency” legitimated by the living Constitution.

No one who reads the Constitution would conclude that presidents may declare war, legislate by fiat, and make treaties without the Senate. Yet presidents do all these things. They get away with it, Prakash argues, because Congress, the courts, and the public routinely excuse these violations. With the passage of time, these transgressions are treated as informal constitutional amendments. The result is an executive increasingly liberated from the Constitution. The solution is originalism. Though often associated with conservative goals, originalism in Prakash’s argument should appeal to Republicans and Democrats alike, as almost all Americans decry the presidency’s stunning expansion. The Living Presidency proposes a baker’s dozen of reforms, all of which could be enacted if only Congress asserted its lawful authority.

Recent News

Black lives matter. Black voices matter. A statement from HUP »

From Our Blog

Jacket: The Will of the People: The Revolutionary Birth of America, by T. H. Breen, from Harvard University Press

Q&A with T. H. Breen, author of The Will of the People: The Revolutionary Birth of America

In most histories of the American Revolution, the Founding Fathers are foregrounded. In The Will of the People: The Revolutionary Birth of America, T. H. Breen recovers the forgotten history of our nation’s true founders—ordinary Americans. We spoke with him about what he discovered while writing the book, and what relevance it might have to today’s politics