AUTHOR'S NOTE: The views expressed here are my own. Many thanks to Charles Lofgren for constructive comments on the draft.
The Law: Presidential Inherent Power: The “Sole Organ” Doctrine
Version of Record online: 6 FEB 2007
Presidential Studies Quarterly
Volume 37, Issue 1, pages 139–152, March 2007
How to Cite
FISHER, L. (2007), The Law: Presidential Inherent Power: The “Sole Organ” Doctrine. Presidential Studies Quarterly, 37: 139–152. doi: 10.1111/j.1741-5705.2007.02589.x
- Issue online: 6 FEB 2007
- Version of Record online: 6 FEB 2007
The executive branch relies in part on the “sole organ” doctrine to define presidential power broadly in foreign relations and national security, including assertions of an inherent executive power that is not subject to legislative or judicial constraints. The doctrine draws from a statement by John Marshall as a member of the House of Representatives in 1800: “The President is the sole organ of the nation in its external relations, and its sole representative with foreign nations.” In dicta, the Supreme Court, in United States v. Curtiss-Wright (1936), cited Marshall's speech to support an independent, extra-constitutional, or exclusive power of the president. When read in context, however, Marshall made no such claim.