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Course Details

Presidential Powers
(no number)




2/3 cr.

Senior Writing


Student Year



This course analyzes the constitutional scope of presidential authority, particularly when it conflicts with prerogatives of the legislative and judicial branches. It does so while examining topics that are at the intersection of constitutional and international law. After laying the basis for understanding the relevant constitutional, international and institutional structures the course explores such questions as the scope of the President'€™s power as Commander-in-Chief and the interaction between the President and the other branches of government with respect to the management of the War on Terror and the exercise of the war powers (e.g., military tribunals, detentions, deployment of forces overseas, intelligence gathering and surveillance). The course also examines whether, and to what extent, international law limits the President'€™s discretion. The separation of powers and its application in the area of foreign affairs generally, including in the context of the incorporation of customary international law into U.S. law, the treaty power, and the relationship between the foreign affairs powers and the principles of federalism are explored further. Additional topics that may be covered include: impeachment; presidential appointments, removals, and control of "€œindependent"€ federal agencies; executive privilege and immunities; checks and balances and the lawyer's role in advising senior government decision-makers in circumstances where law, politics and policy considerations are intertwined.


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