February 6, 2020

8:30 am - 5:00 pm, Eastern Time

Unilateral Presidencies and Complicit Legislatures Symposium

Georgetown Law, Gewirz Student Center, 12th Floor, Washington, DC

The modern presidency is primarily the intellectual handiwork not of “the Framers” but of one Framer – Alexander Hamilton. Unlike his contemporaries who assumed that Congress would be the dominate force in American government, Hamilton advocated for an “elective monarch” with powers far in excess of those granted in the text of Article II of the U.S. Constitution. Thanks in part to a complicit Congress who has consistently and repeatedly ceded core Article I functions to the executive, Hamilton’s unilateralist presidency is the modern presidency. The Constitution’s famous “checks and balances” didn’t foresee congressional abdication of power to the executive be it through the Authorization of the Use of Military Force, the National Emergencies Act, or the Trade Expansion Act. These delegations represent a complete restructuring of American government. Coupled with the rise of the unitary executive theory in our highest courts, how can we responsibly rebalance our separation of powers? What functions does Congress need to reassert as core legislative duties? What legal narratives do we need to counterbalance unitary executivists who are trying to fulfill Hamilton’s dream of an “elective monarch”?