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The Unitary Executive Theory: A Danger to Constitutional Government, Jeffrey P. Crouch, Mark J. Rozell and Mitchel A. Sollenberger

Reviewed by Michael E. Thunberg

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The aggressive use of power is common among modern presidents. More troubling are arguments used to legitimize expansive power. Key among them is the unitary executive theory, which “provide[s] the necessary framework for presidents not only to use power aggressively but also to attempt to wall themselves off from the traditional institutional checks provided in the Constitution and laws” (p. 2). Jeffrey P. Crouch, Mark J. Rozell, and Mitchel A. Sollenberger’s meticulous work challenges the unitary executive theory and clearly articulates how this approach to governing weakens our republic. The book is timely, as presidential powers seem unchecked, and it makes several important contributions to understanding the presidency.

The executive was not intended to hold its current prominence, but a “lack of political will… has rendered Congress much weaker” (p. 151). This elevated the presidency and encouraged the unitary executive theory to grow. However, Crouch, Rozell, and Sollenberger show that checks and balances work when the other branches do find the will to act. To make this point, the book reviews individual domestic and foreign powers of the president, examining arguments presented by unitary executive theorists, and then uses a combination of founding documents, j

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