Master of Arts
Business and Public Service
In the "Pacificus-Helvidius" debate of 1793, Alexander Hamilton locked horns with James Madison in a classic exchange of broadsides on the issue of express versus inherent executive powers. In his interpretation of presidential powers, Hamilton sows the seeds for an argument which justifies the exercise of executive powers in combating situations of domestic emergency and in matters concerning the general welfare or public interest. The seeds of this theory took firm root more than sixty years later in the administration of Abraham Lincoln. Subsequently, the growth of these roots was stimulated by the Supreme Court's decisions in the famous cases of in re Neagle (1890), In re Debs (1895), and United States v. Midwest Oil Co. (1915) and has blossomed into a full blown, if not overblown, succession of "strong" Presidents during the last seventy years. Along with the spiraling development of executive power, volumes of critical material gushed forth in response to both the growth of presidential powers and its budding "textbook Presidency" rationale; however, the impact of this response has been slight, and as one author of the late 1950's put it, "the President of today is a creature of custom."
Given the above introduction, the purpose of this paper is to discuss the role of the Supreme Court in an expanding Presidency by focusing on its decisions in Youngstown Sheet and Tube Co. v. Sawyer (1952), New York Times Co. v. United States (1971), and United States v. Nixon (1974). It is believed that the various opinions found in the three cases mirror the ever-increasing debate which surrounds the growth of executive powers. As rulings, the decisions not only provide the Supreme Court's views on the scope of inherent executive powers, but also provide a means with which to analyze the role of the Court in the expanding Presidency. Since each of the decisions turned on the special circumstances of the case, it is suggested that none of the rulings can be read as imposing any serious limitations on inherent executive powers. On the contrary, the burden and thesis of this paper is that the Court, in each of the three cases, paved the way for future presidential claims of implied powers.
Filter, Gale M., "Executive Powers: The Role of the Supreme Court in an Expanding Presidency" (1975). All Student Theses. 106.