Thomas Jefferson and Executive Power

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All this is well known and helps to explain why modern scholars have trouble sorting out Jefferson's understanding of the executive power vested by the U. Instead, what we have are mainly Jefferson's proposals for the Virginia constitution and isolated and usually private letters that touch on executive power, some written after he had retired from public office. Of course, we also have Jefferson's actions as president of the United States, which, presumably, speak even louder than words.

And here no one would accuse him of neglecting to exercise executive authority. Without asking Congress for approval, he sent a naval squadron to the Mediterranean to undertake offensive actions against the Barbary pirates; despite constitutional qualms, he supported the purchase of the Louisiana Territory and asked Congress to approve the treaty and appropriate the necessary funds; to pressure European nations to respect American neutrality he called for an embargo on commerce that vastly expanded the reach of executive power; and, fearing war with Britain, he ordered the fortification of coastal cities and the building of gunboats without a congressional appropriation.

What to make of all this? Was Jefferson actually a Hamiltonian in his embrace of a powerful presidency, despite his symbolic efforts to drain it of some of its majesty? Was he simply inconsistent, favoring a more ministerial presidency as party theorist but a more autonomous, energetic presidency as the occupant of the office? Was he, as Henry Adams argued, essentially a hypocrite?

It "was hard to see," Adams wrote, "how any President could be more Federalist than Jefferson himself. To be specific,.

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Jefferson's understanding of democratic energy requires a president who will use declarations to articulate the principles of his administration in order to direct national aspirations, present a standard by which the administration can be judged, and, most important, bring the opinions of citizens together under a single head. In this way, argues Bailey, a professor of political science at the University of Houston, "Jefferson transformed presidential speech in order to energize the presidency, and Jefferson transformed the presidency in order to bring energy to declarations. Bailey develops these points with great care in detailed discussions of Jefferson's proposals for the Virginia constitution; his service as governor; his reactions to the proposed new national executive and early debates over executive power under the Constitution; his transformation of the inaugural address into an instrument for articulating principles and fostering change; his removals of Federalists from executive offices to enhance public confidence in the administration of government; his endorsement of the Louisiana Purchase despite constitutional misgivings; his support of the 12th Amendment separating the votes for president and vice president to help democratize the presidency; his embrace of the two-term limit to enable new presidents to reenergize the office; and his use of proclamations and special messages to promote his educational project.

Each of these discussions is a valuable contribution to our understanding of the American Founding, American political development, and executive power in the constitutional order. Together they constitute an original and provocative interpretation of Jefferson's democratic statesmanship and constitutionalism. Perhaps most challenging are Bailey's arguments that in Jefferson's view the president "alone could claim to represent [the majority will]" because "he alone was nationally elected"; that Jefferson "deliberately transformed the inaugural address into a regular opportunity for announcing change"; and that, more generally, "Jefferson transformed presidential speech in order to energize the presidency" by uniting "public opinion and executive discretion.

Yet Jefferson made no such overt claim. He perhaps came closest in his First Inaugural when he warned of future critics "whose positions will not command a view of the whole ground. But to say that some critics will lack the president's comprehensive view is not to say that every member of Congress, much less Congress as a whole, will.

Indeed, as Whig Congressman Abraham Lincoln later argued in the House of Representatives, Congress may better represent public opinion across a range of issues than any single president could. Bailey's case would be stronger if he could adduce some evidence of Jefferson's reservations about the representational character of Congress.

Thomas Jefferson and Executive Power -

On the partisan reinvention of the inaugural address, Bailey does not address the alternative thesis, perhaps best articulated by James Ceaser of the University of Virginia, that Jefferson did not intend to institutionalize party competition in American national government but saw the election of as an exceptional opportunity to refound the regime on proper republican principles hence Jefferson's later description of the election as the "revolution of ".

Thus, for Jefferson the lengthy list of "essential principles" that he detailed in the First Inaugural was not the equivalent of a party platform subject to revision or replacement by future presidents. On the contrary, as he put it, these principles were so fundamental—"the creed of our political faith, the text of civic instruction"—that any "wander[ing] from them" should be corrected by "retrac[ing] our steps and This, then, leads to Bailey's broader argument about Jefferson's transformation of political speech.

While it is certainly true that Jefferson used his two inaugural addresses, official proclamations, and some important open letters to reach a broad audience—note that while Washington's First Inaugural addressed "Fellow Citizens of the Senate and of the House of Representatives," Jefferson's addressed "Friends and Fellow Citizens"—Jefferson, like all the early presidents, made little effort to speak directly to the American people. The founding generation had a healthy skepticism of popular rhetoric, seeing it as a demagogue's tool.

Bailey himself points out that Jefferson "believed [Patrick] Henry's talent for speech provided a dangerous example of the sway that demagogues could hold in democratic government. And when he received hundreds of critical addresses from groups in Massachusetts, he "had a reply printed and distributed. While Bailey acknowledges that Jefferson did not "usher What, then, of Jefferson's understanding of executive power under the Constitution?

To better understand the limits of his power, let's look back at his attempt to unilaterally impose the Muslim ban, and the ways in which it has been blocked so far. A week after he was inaugurated, Trump created a constitutional showdown by issuing his executive order prohibiting nationals from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States. The executive order also indefinitely forbade Syrian refugees, even those granted visas, from entry into the US.

And it suspended the resettlement of all refugees for days. In fact, 15 of the 19 men were from Saudi Arabia, which didn't make Trump's no-entry list. Moreover, no one from the seven listed countries has mounted a fatal terrorist attack in the United States. This is not to say that any countries should be added to the list -- they absolutely should not -- but even within Trump's own official logic, the ban does not make sense.

It halted the executive order's ban on citizens of the seven countries from entering the US.

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Robart also halted the executive order's limitations on accepting refugees, including any action that "purports to prioritize the refugee claims of certain religious minorities. Trump argued in court that the exercise of his presidential power to control immigration and protect national security cannot be reviewed by any court. But four federal court judges disagreed, schooling Trump about the separation of powers. Robart found the states met their burden of showing they face "immediate and irreparable injury" and he concluded, "The executive order adversely affects the states' residents in areas of employment, education, business, family relations and freedom to travel.

These harms are significant and ongoing. After Trump appealed Robart's decision to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, a panel of three judges two Democrats and one Republican unanimously refused to reinstitute the executive order. The three-judge panel disagreed with Trump, who, according to the panel, had essentially made the argument that his "decisions about immigration policy, particularly when motivated by national security concerns, are unreviewable , even if those actions potentially contravene constitutional rights and protections.

Indeed, the panel stated, "the Government's 'authority and expertise in [such] matters do not automatically trump the Court's own obligation to secure the protection that the Constitution grants to individuals,' even in times of war," quoting Holder v.

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Humanitarian Law Project. The panel also quoted a Supreme Court decision called Ex parte Quirin , in which the high court stated that courts have a duty "in time of war as well as in time of peace, to preserve unimpaired the constitutional safeguards of civil liberty. In Youngstown Sheet and Tube Co. Sawyer , the Supreme Court held that the powers of the president are not unlimited, even in wartime. In that seminal case, the Department of Justice DOJ had argued in the lower courts that judges could not review President Truman's decision to seize the steel mills for the war effort.

William Rehnquist was a law clerk for Justice Robert Jackson, who wrote the famous concurring opinion in Youngstown.

Thomas Jefferson, 2nd Vice President (1797-1801)

When he later became Chief Justice, Rehnquist "offered his view that Truman's argument in the lower courts turned the Supreme Court against him. Rehnquist believed that the Court did not want to appear to endorse the view that the President is above the law," Vandevelde added. The three-judge appellate panel in Washington v. Trump rejected the president's claim that his power to control immigration and protect national security is unreviewable.

Jefferson and the Louisiana Purchase

Moreover, Trump's characterization of Robart as a "so-called judge" could not have escaped the panel's notice. The panel cited Boumediene v.

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Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. Sort order. May 14, Joseph rated it did not like it. This book was a disappointment. I expected thoughtful, keen analysis of Thomas Jefferson. Instead I got a text so garbled by typos and omitted words that reading it and making sense of it were difficult. My advice to the author: next time you do a dissertation for a degree, take the trouble to proofread it before it goes to print. There are no discussion topics on this book yet.

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