Bench Memos

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“Unitary Executive” Does Not Mean “Expansive Powers”


The Wall Street Journal has a front-page article today entitled “Judge Alito’s View of the Presidency: Expansive Powers”. Unfortunately, the article (except in one buried paragraph) badly conflates two distinct issues. One issue is the soundness of the “unitary executive” theory of presidential power. That theory, which Alito apparently endorsed in a speech in 2000, posits that Article II of the Constitution means what it says when it states that “The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.” The second issue is the scope of the “executive Power”. Nothing in the theory of the “unitary executive” has any necessary implications for the scope of the executive power.


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