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The Presidency and Congress

Constitutionally Separated and Shared Powers

January 19 — 20, 1990

The American separation of executive, legislative, and judicial power is distinctive among the world's constitutional democracies. The scheme of separated powers specified in the U.S. Constution arose from the Framers' belief that the power of the central government they were creating had to be fragmented among three separate branches with separate functions if liberty was to be preserved. By thus dividing power, the Framers reasoned that ambition could be made to counteract ambition to the benefit of freedom. Thus, the Framers relied heavily on structural devices -- separation of powers, bicameralism, and federalism -- rather than on affirmative prohibitions of governmental behavior for the preservation of liberty. They hoped that their system of separated powers, tempered by the few specifically delineated instances of commingled responsibility, would lead to a government of laws and not of men.

Over the years, the constitutional design of 1787 came to be modified in several important respects. The creation of independent agencies, the delegation by Congress of broad lawmaking responsibilities to the executive branch, the increased frequency and role of congressional oversight hearings, and the creation of independent counsels have all modified -- in theory, practice, or both -- the original strict, formal conception of separation of powers. While the status quo has its defenders, voices have been heard in recent years questioning the wisdom of the present arrangements. Some believe we should return to the stricter separation of powers that the Framers favored. Others advocate a parliamentary model with a more closely fused executive and legislature.

This conference will examine our system of constutionally separated and shared powers. A distinguished group of panelists drawn from government and academia will discuss the pros and cons of the Framers' vision, while attempting to explain where in practice things have gone wrong. We hope the ensuing discussion will help to shed light on the principles that underlie our system of limited constitutional democracy.

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12:30 p.m. - 1:30 p.m.
Opening Address by Attorney General Richard Thornburgh [Archive Collection]

The Presidency and Congress

Topics: Constitution • Separation of Powers • Federalism & Separation of Powers
The Mayflower Hotel
1127 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20036

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On January 19-20, 1990, The Federalist Society hosted a conference at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC. The topic of the conference was "The Presidency & Congress: Constitutionally Separated and Shared Powers." Attorney General Richard Thornburgh opened the conference with an address on the importance of separation of powers.

Featuring:

  • Hon. Richard Thornburgh, Attorney General of the United States
  • Introduction: E. Spencer Abraham, Deputy Chief of Staff for Vice President Dan Quayle
  • Introduction: David McIntosh, The Federalist Society

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As always, the Federalist Society takes no position on particular legal or public policy issues; all expressions of opinion are those of the speakers.

 

Speakers

1:30 p.m. - 3:15 p.m.
Panel I: Agency Autonomy and the Unitary Executive [Archive Collection]

The Presidency and Congress

Topics: Administrative Law & Regulation • Constitution • Separation of Powers • Federalism & Separation of Powers
The Mayflower Hotel
1127 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20036

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Event Video

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Description

On January 19-20, 1990, The Federalist Society hosted a conference at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC. The topic of the conference was "The Presidency & Congress: Constitutionally Separated and Shared Powers." The first panel discussed "Agency Autonomy and the Unitary Executive."

Featuring:

  • Mr. Terry Eastland, National Legal Center for the Public Interest
  • Prof. E. Donald Elliot, Yale Law School
  • Judge Laurence Silberman, U.S. Court of Appeals, DC Circuit
  • Moderator: Judge Stephen Breyer, U.S. Court of Appeals, First Circuit

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As always, the Federalist Society takes no position on particular legal or public policy issues; all expressions of opinion are those of the speakers.

Speakers

3:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Address by Secretary of Defense Richard Cheney [Archive Collection]

The Presidency and Congress

Topics: Foreign Policy • Security & Privacy • Separation of Powers • Federalism & Separation of Powers • International & National Security Law
The Mayflower Hotel
1127 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20036

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Event Video

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Description

On January 19-20, 1990, The Federalist Society hosted a conference at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC. The topic of the conference was "The Presidency & Congress: Constitutionally Separated and Shared Powers." Then Secretary of Defense, Dick Cheney offered a keynote address on separation of powers and foreign policy.

Featuring:

  • Hon. Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense
  • Introduction: T. Kenneth Cribb, Jr., Intercollegiate Studies Institute

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As always, the Federalist Society takes no position on particular legal or public policy issues; all expressions of opinion are those of the speakers.

Speakers

4:15 p.m. - 6:00 p.m.
Panel II: Presidential Lawmaking Powers: Vetoes, Line Item Vetoes, Signing Statements, Executive Orders, and Delegations of Rulemaking Authority [Archive Collection]

The Presidency and Congress

Topics: Constitution • Federalism • Separation of Powers • Federalism & Separation of Powers
The Mayflower Hotel
1127 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20036

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Event Video

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Description

On January 19-20, 1990, The Federalist Society hosted a conference at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC. The topic of the conference was "The Presidency & Congress: Constitutionally Separated and Shared Powers." The second panel covered "Presidential Lawmaking Powers: Line Item Vetoes, Signing Statements, Executive Orders, and Delegations of Rulemaking Authority."

Featuring:

  • Judge Frank Easterbrook, U.S. Court of Appeals, Seventh Circuit
  • Mr. Theodore Olson, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher
  • Mr. Steven Ross, Counsel, U.S. House of Representatives
  • Prof. David Schoenbrod, New York Law School
  • Moderator: David McIntosh, The Federalist Society

*******

As always, the Federalist Society takes no position on particular legal or public policy issues; all expressions of opinion are those of the speakers.

Speakers

7:30 p.m. - 10:00 p.m.
Banquet Debate: Toward a Stricter Separation of Powers? Toward a Parliamentary Model? Or Does it Matter?

The Presidency and Congress

The Mayflower Hotel
1127 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20036

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9:00 a.m. - 9:30 a.m.
Opening Address by Senator Charles Robb

The Presidency and Congress

The Mayflower Hotel
1127 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20036

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9:30 a.m. - 11:15 a.m.
Panel III: Congressional Control of the Administration of Government: Hearings, Investigations, Oversight, and Legislative History

The Presidency and Congress

The Mayflower Hotel
1127 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20036

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11:30 a.m. - 1:00 p.m.
Panel IV: The Appropriation Power and the Necessary and Proper Clause

The Presidency and Congress

The Mayflower Hotel
1127 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20036

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1:00 p.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Luncheon Address by White House Counsel C. Boyden Gray: The Neutral Application of Rules to Each of the Three Branches

The Presidency and Congress

The Mayflower Hotel
1127 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20036

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2:45 p.m. - 4:30 p.m.
Panel V: The Role of the Courts in Separation of Powers Disputes

The Presidency and Congress

The Mayflower Hotel
1127 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20036

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4:45 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Address by Judge Robert H. Bork

The Presidency and Congress

The Mayflower Hotel
1127 Connecticut Ave NW
Washington, DC 20036

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