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The Law Saving the Presidency from Lawyers

Authors

  • ROBERT J. SPITZER

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    1. State University of New York
      Robert J. Spitzer is the Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science at the State University of New York at Cortland and the author, most recently, of Saving the Constitution from Lawyers: How Legal Training and Law Reviews Distort Constitutional Meaning (2008).
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Robert J. Spitzer is the Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science at the State University of New York at Cortland and the author, most recently, of Saving the Constitution from Lawyers: How Legal Training and Law Reviews Distort Constitutional Meaning (2008).

Abstract

Legal training is well suited to prepare lawyers for the study and practice of law in the advocacy-based legal system. But when lawyers as academics enter the realm of constitutional law, legal training offers poor preparation for academic analysis. Worse, the vast realm of legal publishing—law reviews—is run by students who do not rely on peer review, unlike every other academic discipline. The result of these two factors is great potential for wayward constitutional theorizing, which has adverse consequences not only for academic constitutional debates but also for political debate and policy outcomes. This article examines two cases in which lawyer-made theorizing has deformed constitutional meaning pertaining to the presidency: the inherent item veto and the unitary executive view of the commander-in-chief power.

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