POL 410
Seminar in Political Theory: Executive Power
Professor Rahul Sagar
238 Corwin Hall
[email protected]
Office hours: TBA
This seminar examines an important conundrum associated with the theory of
executive power. Political theorists have long recognized that the laws cannot foresee
every contingency, particularly in the domain of foreign relations. This is why we appoint
an executive to undertake prudent, decisive, and secretive measures, on our behalf,
when necessity demands. However, we also recognize that entrusting such discretionary
power to individuals is problematic because they might abuse it. We fear, for instance,
that the executive could end up using practices like extraordinary rendition and domestic
surveillance against American citizens themselves. Over the course of this seminar, we
will study how prominent theorists of executive power, including Plato, Machiavelli,
Hobbes, Locke, and Publius have attempted to solve this conundrum. We will then draw
extensively on contemporary political science as well as documentaries and news reports
to analyze the feasibility of their solutions in the modern world.
Assignments: one midterm paper (10 pages) and one term paper (20 pages)
Participation 25%
Midterm Paper 25%
Final Paper 50%
Meetings: Thursdays, 1:30 pm – 4.20 pm in Friend 205
POL 410: Syllabus
Week 1: Introduction (Feb 9)
Forrest McDonald, “The Lessons of History,” in The American Presidency: An
Intellectual History, Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1995, Chapter 4
Edward Corwin, The President: Office and Powers, New York: New York University
Press, 1984, Chapter 1
Harvey C. Mansfield, “The Case for the Strong Executive,” The Wall Street Journal,
May 2, 2007
James P. Pfiffner, “Constitutionalism and the Rule of Law,” Power Play: The Bush
Presidency and the Constitution, Washington DC: Brookings, 2008, Chapter 9
John Yoo, Crisis and Command: A History of Executive Power from George Washington
to George W. Bush, New York: Kaplan, 2010, Chapter 1 (optional)
Jane Mayer, “The Hidden Power,” New Yorker, July 3, 2006 (optional)
Week 2: Greece (Feb 16)
Plato, The Republic, trans. Tom Griffith, ed. G. R. Ferrari, Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 2001, 369a–427d, 449a-474c
Plato, Statesman, ed. Julius Annas, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995, xiixx, 56-70
David Held, Models of Democracy, London: Polity, 2006, Chapter 1
Mogens H. Hansen, Athenian Democracy in the Age of Demosthenes, New York:
Blackwell, 1991, 225-236, 246-250, 255-259, 264-265
PJ Rhodes, “Who Ran Democratic Athens?,” in Eric W. Robinson, ed., Ancient Greek
Democracy: Readings and Sources, Oxford: Blackwell, 2004
Melissa Lane, “Plato’s Political Philosophy,” in Mary Louise Gill and Pierre Pellegrin, A
Companion to Ancient Philosophy, Oxford: Blackwell, 2009 (optional)
Week 3: Rome (Feb 23)
Polybius, Histories, Book VI (excluding Section VI on military arrangements)
T. Corey Brennan, “Power and Process Under the Republican Constitution,” in Harriet I.
Flower, ed., The Cambridge Companion to the Roman Republic, New York : Cambridge
University Press, 2004
Walter Eder, “Who Rules? Power and Participation in Athens and Rome,” in Anthony
Molho, Kurt Raaflaub and Julia Emlen, City-States in Classical Antiquity and Medieval
Italy, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1991, 183-190
Andrew Lintott, The Constitution of the Roman Republic, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1999,
Chapter 3
John North, “The Constitution of the Roman Republic,” in Nathan Rosenstein and Robert
Morstein-Marx, eds., A Companion to the Roman Republic, Oxford: Blackwell, 2010
Plutarch, “Caesar,” in The Fall of the Roman Republic: Six Lives, ed. Rex Warner, New
York: Penguin, 2006, 1-44 (optional)
Week 4: The Covert Executive (Mar 1)
Machiavelli, Discourses on Livy, ed. Harvey C. Mansfield and Nathan Tarcov, Chicago:
University of Chicago Press, 1996,
Bk. I, Chapters. 1-6, 9-10, 14, 18, 27, 29-30, 34-35, 38, 40, 46-47, 53, 58
Bk. II, Chapters. 1, 4, 13, 15
Bk. III, Chapters. 1, 3, 16, 30-31, 34, 49
Machiavelli, The Prince, ed. Harvey Mansfield, Chicago: Chicago University Press,
1998, Chapters 9, 15, 17-19, 21
Gene Brucker, Renaissance Florence, Berkley: University of California Press, 1969,
Chap 4
Gene Brucker, Florence: The Golden Age, Berkley: University of California Press, 1998
(read the section entitled “A School for Self-Government”)
J. H. Plumb, “Prince and the State,” The Italian Renaissance, New York: Harper and
Row, 2001 (optional)
Week 5: The Public Executive (Mar 8)
Hobbes, Leviathan, ed. Richard Tuck, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996,
Chapters 13-15, 17-19, 24, 29-30
David L. Smith, “Politics in Early Stuart Britain, 1603-1640,” in Barry Coward, ed. A
Companion to Stuart Britain, Oxford: Blackwell, 2003, Chapter 12
Malcolm Smuts, “Political Thought in Early Stuart Britain,” in Barry Coward, ed. A
Companion to Stuart Britain, Oxford: Blackwell, 2003, Chapter 14
Week 6: The Origin of the Modern Executive (Mar 15)
Locke, Two Treatises of Government, ed. Peter Laslett, New York: Cambridge University
Press, 1988, Chapters 2-3, 9, 11-12, 14, 18
Montesquieu, Spirit of the Laws, trans. Anne M. Cohler, Basia C. Miller, and Harold S.
Stone, New York: Cambridge University Press, 1989
Bks. 2-3 (whole)
Bk. 8, Chapters 1-4, 11-16, 20
Bk. 9, Chapters 1 and 6
Bk. 11, Chapters 1-7
Bk. 12, Chapters 1-2, 4, 19-20
Peter Jupp, “The Framework of the Executive,” The Governing of Britain 1688-1848,
New York: Routledge, 2009, Chapter 1
W. R. Brock, “England” in George Potter and Geoffrey Elton, New Cambridge Modern
History, Vol. 7, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970, Chapter 11
Week 7: Fall Recess ** NO CLASS ** (Mar 22)
*** Mid Term Paper Due March 25, 2010 ***
Week 8: The Modern Executive (Mar 29)
Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay, The Federalist, ed. Terence Ball,
New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003, Nos. 23, 26, 47-48, 51, 64, 67, 69, 70-71
Brutus, “Letters No. 7 and 10,” in The Federalist, ed. Terence Ball, New York:
Cambridge University Press, 2003
Cato, “Letters No. 4 and 5,” in Michael Nelson, ed. The Evolving Presidency,
Washington: CQ Press, 1999, 10-16
Ralph Ketcham, ed., The Constitutional Convention Debates, New York: Signet, 2003,
42-49 (“Debate on Executive Power” and “Opposition to a Unitary Executive”)
Gordon S. Wood, The Creation of the American Republic, Chapel Hill: University of
North Carolina Press, 1969, 132-143, 150-157, 430-438, 446-453, 519-524, 547-553
Andrew Rudalevige, The New Imperial Presidency, Ann Arbor: University of Michigan
Press, 2005, Chapter 2
Week 9: Debates I: Foreign Affairs (Apr 5)
“Pacificus I and Helvidius I & II” in The Pacificus-Helvidius Debates of 1793-1793, ed.
Morton J. Frisch, Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2007. Also see “Introduction,” vii – xiv.
Arthur Schlesinger, The Imperial Presidency, New York: Mariner, 2004, Chapter 3
Richard J. Ellis and Michael Nelson, Debating the Presidency: Conflicting Perspectives
on the American Executive, Washington: CQ Press, 2006, Chapter 7.
Louis Fisher, The Politics of Shared Power: Congress and Executive, Texas A&M, 1998,
Ch 6
United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corporation, 299 U.S. 304 (1936)
Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, 343 U.S. 579 (1952) (See the opinions of
Justices Black and Jackson) http://laws.findlaw.com/us/343/579.html
Edward Corwin, The President: Office and Powers, New York: New York University
Press, 1984, Chapter 6
Week 10: Debates II: Emergency Power (Apr 12)
Bruce Ackerman, “The Emergency Constitution,” Yale Law Journal, Vol. 113, 2004,
1029-1032, 1037-1077
Oren Gross, “Chaos and Rules: Should Responses to Violent Crises Always be
Constitutional?,” Yale Law Journal, Vol. 112, 2003, 1011-1027, 1058-1073, 1096-1128
Laurence H. Tribe and Patrick O. Gudridge, “The Anti-Emergency Constitution,” Yale
Law Journal, Vol. 113, 2004, 1801-1807, 1830-1842
Kim Lane Schepple, “We Are All Post-9/11 Now,” Fordham Law Review, Vol. 75, 2006
Week 11: Debates III: State Secrets Privilege (Apr 26)
United States v. Reynolds, 345 U.S. 1, 10 (1953)
Halkin v. Helms, 690 F.2d977 (D.C. Cir. 1982)
Robert M. Chesney, “State Secrets and the Limits of National Security Litigation,”
George Washington Law Review, Vol. 75, 2007
William G. Weaver and Robert M. Pallito, “State Secrets and Executive Power,” Political
Science Quarterly, Vol. 120, No. 1, 2005
Amanda Frost, “The State Secrets Privilege and the Separation of Powers,” Fordham
Law Review, Vol. 75, 2007
Louis Fisher, In The Name of National Security: Unchecked Presidential Power and the
Reynolds Case, Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 2006, Chap. 7 (optional)
Week 12: Debates IV: Executive Privilege (May 3)
Mark J. Rozell, Executive Privilege: Presidential Power, Secrecy and Accountability,
Lawrence: University of Kansas, 2002, Introduction and Chapters 1-2.
David Crockett, “Executive Privilege,” in Joseph Bessette and Jeffrey K. Tulis, The
Constitutional Presidency. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009
Heidi Kitrosser, “Secrecy and Separated Powers: Executive Privilege Revisited,” Iowa
Law Review, vol. 92, 2007, 491-526 (Parts I – III only)
Robert M. Pallitto, William G. Weaver, Presidential Secrecy and the Law, Baltimore:
Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007, Chapter 6
Week 13: Debates V: Leadership (TBD)
Harvey Mansfield, Taming the Prince: The Ambivalence of Modern Executive Power,
Johns Hopkins University Press, 1993, Chapter 1
Richard E. Neustadt, Presidential Power and the Modern Presidents: The Politics of
Leadership from Roosevelt to Reagan, New York: Free Press, 1991, Chapter 1.
Forrest McDonald, “Presidential Character: The Example of George Washington,” in
Philip G. Henderson, ed., The Presidency Then and Now, Lanham: Rowman &
Littlefield, 2000
David Gergen, “Richard Nixon,” in Eyewitness to Power: The Essence of Leadership,
Nixon to Clinton, Simon and Schuster, 2000, 17-65
Clement Fatovic, “Republican Virtue and the Presidency,” Outside the Law: Emergency
and Executive Power, Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2009
*** Final Paper Due on Sunday, May 20, 2012 @ 5pm***

POL 410 - Syllabus Outline