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The Law Connecting Presidential Power to Public Law


  • AUTHOR'S NOTE: Thanks to Chris Edelson, Richard Pious, Mitchel Sollenberger, and Robert Spitzer for many thoughtful suggestions on this article.


When political science developed in the United States in the 1880s, the study of politics incorporated public law. Upon its founding in 1903, the American Political Science Association linked the discipline of government studies to law. Presidential scholar Edward S. Corwin was regularly invited to testify before Congress on constitutional matters, as were other political scientists. By 1963, however, behavioral studies topped the list of fields in which significant work was being done. Located at the bottom was public law. Presidential scholars, giving little attention to legal and constitutional analysis, generally promoted broad trust in presidential power with few checks. That orientation has been rejected by a number of political scientists who remain committed to public law. Part of the political science discipline remains divorced from legal analysis.