Civil libertarian/Constitutional Law Professor Bruce Ackerman earlier expressed concern about presidential power grabs.
They’re able to make policy through executive orders, military orders, national security and homeland security presidential directives, along with other ways of circumventing Congress and the courts.
They wage illegal wars without Security Council and congressional authorization, imperial overreach endangering everyone.
White House lawyers justify the unjustifiable. According to Ackerman, “they serve as authoritative judges for the executive branch, providing a legal framework for millions of civilian and military personnel as they implement executive decrees.”
They publish opinions, claiming presidents “take care (to assure) the law (is) faithfully executed.” Politicized lawyers act as “advocates and judges…expand(ing) presidential prerogatives,” notably since the Nixon years.
If unconstrained, Ackerman envisions “an increasingly imperial presidency over the next half century” – the Supreme Court unable to check its power grabs.
Few High Court appeals are accepted, justices picking and choosing ones they want. Ackerman says current checks and balances don’t work. New ones are needed, including stripping administration lawyers of judicial power, letting them only serve as advocates.
He favors a “new judicial tribunal in the executive branch (to) hear lawyers from Congress (and) the President, before passing a timely judgment on the legality of executive (and other presidential) orders.”
While the new body could be politicized, potentially it could restrain power-grabbing, perhaps preventing or limiting wars by executive diktat.
While campaigning, Trump made lots of promises. How he’ll govern remains to be seen. Will his Office of Legal Counsel creatively interpret laws to help him implement policies he wishes, for good or ill?
Without effective checks and balances, he’s able to govern extrajudicially by creatively reinterpreting statutes, regulations, other rules and how programs are administered.
Bush and Obama did it, claiming national security and counterterrorism justification. Wars of aggression, Guantanamo, other CIA and Pentagon black sites, indefinite detentions without trial or charges, Obama’s kill list, drone warfare, targeting whistleblowers and creating the world’s largest gulag, among other policies made America an unparalleled pariah state.
Will Trump continue dirty business as usual or go another way? If past is prologue, it’s hard being optimistic for what lies ahead.