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In this presentation, Dr. Laura Wittern-Keller discusses the growth of presidential power through unilateral action—executive orders, proclamations, national security directives, and signing statements—and how the Supreme Court has determined the constitutionality of those actions. The precedent usually used by the Supreme Court stems from a 1952 case that found President Harry Truman’s executive order authorizing the seizure of some American steel mills to be an unconstitutional extension of presidential unilateral action. The case, Youngstown Sheet and Tube v. Sawyer, included a concurrence by Associate Justice Robert Jackson that created a three-part test of presidential orders. That test, modified in 2008, is still good law and will most likely be the test of any future executive orders challenged. The presentation concludes with a discussion of the Guantanamo detainee cases from the George W. Bush administration and a list of executive orders currently being challenged from the Barack Obama administration and the first nine months of the Donald Trump administration.


To learn more about Laura Wittern-Keller, PhD, Department of History, University at Albany and her work, please click on the link below:



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