The Unitary, or Unilateral Executive? Presidential Power in the Bush Administration

Christopher Kelley
2008 American Review of Politics  
<span style="font-size: 100%; font-family: Arial; color: #000000;" data-sheets-value="{&quot;1&quot;:2,&quot;2&quot;:&quot;The Bush administration came to office in 2001 determined to return powers to the president lost largely as a result of Watergate. Key to returning those powers is the unitary executive theory of presidential power\u2014a constitutional theory of power developed by conservatives in the Reagan administration meant to offer the president offensive and defensive opportunities
more » ... sive opportunities when working with an external environment that is polarized and hostile towards the executive branch. While the theory has been a part of each administration from Reagan through Bush II, it is the Bush II administration that has received the majority of the attention for its aggressive defense of a number of controversial actions by relying on the theory. Among those actions has been the use (or abuse) of the presidential bill signing statement. It is my purpose to argue that the administration has not behaved as a Unitarian but as something else entirely, leaving the powers of the office perhaps in worse shape than they found it.&quot;}" data-sheets-userformat="{&quot;2&quot;:2111744,&quot;11&quot;:0,&quot;14&quot;:{&quot;1&quot;:2,&quot;2&quot;:0},&quot;15&quot;:&quot;arial,sans,sans-serif&quot;,&quot;16&quot;:10,&quot;24&quot;:{&quot;1&quot;:0,&quot;2&quot;:3,&quot;3&quot;:0,&quot;4&quot;:3}}">The Bush administration came to office in 2001 determined to return powers to the president lost largely as a result of Watergate. Key to returning those powers is the unitary executive theory of presidential power—a constitutional theory of power developed by conservatives in the Reagan administration meant to offer the president offensive and defensive opportunities when working with an external environment that is polarized and hostile towards the executive branch. While the theory has been a part of each administration from Reagan through Bush II, it is the Bush II administration that has received the majority of the attention for its aggressive defense of a number of controversial actions by relying on the theory. Among those actions has been the use (or abuse) of the presidential bill signing statement. It is my purpose to argue that the administration has not behaved as a Unitarian but as something else entirely, leaving the powers of the office perhaps in worse shape than they found it.</span>
doi:10.15763/issn.2374-7781.2008.29.0.181-196 fatcat:7labkssyqrgm7ivvzbohffbauu