The Corner

The Executive Power

Our civic liturgy for this constitutionally significant day should be informed by this observation from James Madison:

The natural province of the executive magistrate is to execute laws, as that of the legislature is to make laws. All his acts therefore, properly executive, must presuppose the existence of the laws to be executed.

These words cannot help but serve as a harsh rebuke of the outgoing president. We should hope, and we should demand, though we would be passing naive to expect, that they might serve as a guide for the incoming one. 

Yuval Levin is the director of social, cultural, and constitutional studies at the American Enterprise Institute and the editor of National Affairs.