The Constitution provides that "All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States," and it goes on to grant Congress a robust-and fearsome-list of powers. James Madison assumed that "[i]n republican government, the legislative authority necessarily predominates," and he cautioned that the legislative department may tend to "draw all power into its impetuous vortex." But modern politics and law seem to tell a quite different story. With executive orders, administrative regulations, creative interpretations of federal statutes, and executive agreements with other nations, it may seem that the President, not Congress, is, in effect, wielding the most potent legislative power. Indeed, the Supreme Court is currently poised to decide whether President Obama's unilateral immigration actions usurped Congress's power and flouted his duty to "take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed." But some argue that this is nothing new: they say that the President is not exercising legislative power; he is simply exercising his well-established executive discretion. Is Congress still the most powerful branch, or is this the era of the imperial presidency? Has the President usurped Congress's legislative power?
Adam Cox is the Robert A. Kindler Professor of Law at New York University School of Law, where he teaches and writes about immigration law, constitutional law, and democracy. Before coming to NYU, he was a professor of law at the University of Chicago Law School. He clerked for Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. After his clerkship he served as the Karpatkin Civil Rights Fellow for the American Civil Liberties Union, where he was involved in racial profiling and public defender reform litigation, and practiced at Wilmer, Cutler, and Pickering, where he first litigated immigration cases. Cox received his J.D. summa cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School, where he served as an articles editor of the Michigan Law Review and received the Daniel H. Grady Prize for graduating first in the law school class.
Judge Michael McConnell
Michael McConnell is a constitutional law scholar who served as a federal judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit from 2002 until 2009. Since 2009, Judge McConnell has served as Director of the Stanford Constitutional Law Center at Stanford Law School. He is also a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution, and Of Counsel to the Litigation Practice Group at Kirkland & Ellis LLP.
Eric Posner is Kirkland and Ellis Distinguished Service Professor of Law and Arthur and Esther Kane Research Chair. His current research interests are international law and constitutional law.
Carrie Severino is chief counsel and policy director of the Judicial Crisis Network. In that capacity she has testified before Congress on assorted constitutional issues and briefed senators on judicial nominations. She has written and spoken on a wide range of judicial issues, particularly the constitutional limits on government, the federal nomination process, and state judicial selection. Severino regularly files briefs in U.S. Supreme Court cases, including Hobby Lobby v. Burwell, McCullen v. Coakley, and Schuette v. BAMN. She has also filed briefs in the Halbig and King cases challenging the Obama Administration’s implementation of Obamacare. Until 2010, Severino was an Olin/Searle Fellow and a Dean's Visiting Scholar at Georgetown University Law Center. She was previously a law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and to Judge David B. Sentelle of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.