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Congress's Constitution: Legislative Authority and the Separation of Powers

Congress's Constitution: Legislative Authority and the Separation of Powers

by Josh Chafetz


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A leading scholar of Congress and the Constitution analyzes Congress’s surprisingly potent set of tools in the system of checks and balances.

Congress is widely supposed to be the least effective branch of the federal government. But as Josh Chafetz shows in this boldly original analysis, Congress in fact has numerous powerful tools at its disposal in its conflicts with the other branches. These tools include the power of the purse, the contempt power, freedom of speech and debate, and more.
Drawing extensively on the historical development of Anglo-American legislatures from the seventeenth century to the present, Chafetz concludes that these tools are all means by which Congress and its members battle for public support. When Congress uses them to engage successfully with the public, it increases its power vis-à-vis the other branches; when it does not, it loses power. This groundbreaking take on the separation of powers will be of interest to both legal scholars and political scientists.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300248333
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 08/06/2019
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 448
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Josh Chafetz is professor of law at Cornell Law School. His work has appeared in top scholarly journals and in national publications, including the New York Times and the Washington Post.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction 1

Part 1 Separation-of-Powers Multiplicity

Prelude 9

1 Political Institutions in the Public Sphere 15

2 The Role of Congress 27

Part 2 Congressional Hard Powers

3 The Power of the Purse 45

4 The Personnel Power 78

5 Contempt of Congress 152

Part 3 Congressional Soft Powers

6 The Freedom of Speech or Debale 201

7 Internal Discipline 232

8 Cameral Rules 267

Conclusion: Toward a Normative Evaluation 302

Notes 317

Index 423

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