This book is intended to offer a constructive overview of the essential and most intriguing issues within the study of separation of powers. It is also designed to be a casebook from which an engaging course on the subject can be taught.
Primarily through review and discussion of 39 carefully selected cases, the book covers topics such as the scope of Executive Branch power and privilege, Congressional authority and prerogatives, and the role of the courts in refereeing disputes between the political branches. The final two (of ten) chapters focus on the shared war power; its historical uses, abuses, and limits; and how the 21st century's War on Terror has occasioned greater judicial oversight on its exercise, particularly with respect to the treatment of enemy combatants.
Many other cases are referenced to illustrate specific points, and other materials -- such as internal Executive Branch legal memos, congressional authorizations for the use of force, and selected Federalist Papers -- are used to provide context for the operation of separation of powers principles. Discussion and questions throughout the book challenge the reader to think critically about whether, in practice, the separation of powers framework set forth in the Constitution is playing out as the Framers intended. The reader is also asked to consider how separation of powers questions would be answered in hypothetical situations not yet addressed by the courts.
About the Author
After graduating from the University of Virginia School of Law, Thomas Beck spent 16 years practicing law in Washington, DC. He has appeared in federal and state trial courts throughout the United States and has argued several cases in the United States Courts of Appeals. In 2008, after being nominated by President George W. Bush and unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate, he became Chairman of the Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA). At the FLRA, he has participated in published decisions resolving nearly 500 legal disputes. He has taught courses on separation of powers and the legislative process at the George Mason University School of Law. As this book goes to print, he has been nominated by President Barack Obama to be a Member of the National Mediation Board and his nomination is pending in the Senate.
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