In a classic essay published in the Claremont Review of Books, Harvey Mansfield remarked that the "debate between the strong executive and its adversary, the rule of law is necessary, good, and—under the Constitution—never-ending.” Over time, and particularly since the dawn of Progressivism, executive power has evolved and expanded, sparking new debates over its proper limits and reach.
The President has long been understood to possess inherent—and even plenary—powers in the realm of foreign affairs. The extent of those powers is a question as old as the Republic. But the contours of executive power in the domestic arena have changed dramatically with the creation of the modern regulatory state and the rise of “bully pulpit." Vast delegations of power to a bureaucracy insulated from political checks has strengthened the Executive Branch, while undermining the notion of the unitary Executive and the separation of powers. And the direct use of presidential rhetoric to shape public opinion has at once democratized and empowered the presidency.
This distinguished panel looked at how President Trump has approached these particular facets of executive power in important and novel ways, paying special attention to how the President has asserted greater control over the administrative state, curbed the previous Administration’s use of “enforcement discretion” to effectively change law, and used the power of the “bully pulpit” to advance his objectives and inflame his critics.
• John Fonte, Senior Fellow and Director, Center for American Common Culture at the Hudson Institute
• Adam White, Research fellow, Hoover Institution; Director of the Center for the Study of the Administrative State at George Mason University's Antonin Scalia Law School
• Charles Kesler, Editor, Claremont Review of Books; Senior Fellow, Claremont Institute; Professor of Government, Claremont McKenna College
• Arthur Milikh (host), Associate Director, B. Kenneth Simon Center for Principles and Politics at The Heritage Foundation