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The Presidency

- November 16, 2018
Is the executive branch too powerful?
Featured Report

President Trump's governance style has heightened long-standing concerns that presidents have been asserting more power, through executive orders and other means, than the Constitution intended. For instance, no president has asked Congress for a declaration of war since World War II even though the Constitution reserves war-making power to the legislative branch. Some historians date the growth of presidential control to the New Deal-era expansion of the federal government, and others to the end of the Cold War and a decline of foreign policy expertise in Congress. Critics of Trump, pointing to his mounting executive orders and criticism of the justice system, worry that the American system of checks and balances could be in peril. Others see Trump's overturning of standing policies as the inevitable result of rising presidential power under both Republicans and Democrats. Trump's supporters say he is doing exactly what he was elected to do: disrupt Washington's traditions. Whether future presidents will follow Trump's example remains an open question.

Russia Probe

The investigation’s future is uncertain.

Congress vs. the Presidency

Democrats say they will investigate Trump’s finances.

Going to Court

Trump so far has won only one lawsuit filed against his administration.

1780s–1860sConstitution creates an executive office; Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln begin expanding its power.
1930s–1950sExecutive branch grows rapidly during the New Deal.
1960s–1970sRichard Nixon's presidency ends in scandal.
1980s–PresentUse of executive power expands.

Does a U.S. president have the authority to pardon himself?


Robert Nida
Attorney, Nida & Romyn, P.C., and Co-author with Rebecca L. Spiro, “The President as His Own Judge and Jury: A Legal Analysis of the Presidential Self-Pardon Power,” Oklahoma Law Review, 1999.


Brian Kalt
Law Professor and Harold Norris Faculty Scholar, Michigan State University, and author, Constitutional Cliffhangers: A Legal Guide for Presidents and Their Enemies .


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Global Tourism Controversies
Are destinations at risk from too many visitors?