Catalogue


Power play : the Bush presidency and the Constitution /
James P. Pfiffner.
imprint
Washington, D.C. : Brookings Institution Press, c2008.
description
xiv, 299 p. ; 24 cm.
ISBN
0815770448 (cloth : alk. paper), 9780815770442 (cloth : alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Washington, D.C. : Brookings Institution Press, c2008.
isbn
0815770448 (cloth : alk. paper)
9780815770442 (cloth : alk. paper)
contents note
A government of laws or men? -- The nature of executive power -- Creating individual rights and an independent legislature -- The American Constitution -- The power to imprison : habeas corpus -- The power to torture -- The power to surveil -- The power to ignore the law : signing statements -- Conclusion: Constitutionalism and the rule of law.
catalogue key
6479588
 
Includes bibliographical references and index.
A Look Inside
Awards
This item was nominated for the following awards:
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 2008-11-01:
This book offers a powerful counterpoise to recent defenses of presidential powers, most notably John Yoo's War by Other Means (CH, May'06, 43-5568) and The Powers of War and Peace (CH, Mar'07, 44-4142). Pfiffner (public policy, George Mason Univ.) traces the origins of American freedoms to the Charter of Liberties and the Magna Carta, through classical liberal and republican theorists, to the adoption of the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Most liberties in England emerged from the conflict between the parliament and the monarch; the resulting balance has been institutionalized in the US system of separation of powers. Judged against this principle, Pfiffner successively challenges the constitutionality of unilateral actions that the George W. Bush administration has taken in suspending the writ of habeas corpus, disregarding domestic laws and treaties relative to torture, conducting warrantless wiretaps, and devising presidential signing statements that announce an intention to flout the law. Pfiffner has enhanced his arguments by focusing on core constitutional principles rather than questioning Bush's motives. Pfiffner makes a convincing case that the stakes are none other than the preservation of "the rule of law and the Constitution." Summing Up: Recommended. General readers through research faculty. J. R. Vile Middle Tennessee State University
Appeared in Library Journal on 2008-08-01:
Public policy academic Pfiffner (George Mason Univ.; The Character Factor: How We Judge America's Presidents) addresses the Constitution's meticulously established system of checks and balances among the executive, legislative, and judicial bodies--and shows how the current President has stepped over the limits placed there on executive power, specifically in relation to habeas corpus, definitions of torture, employing surveillance without warrant, and disregard of laws that the executive branch is charged with upholding. Pfiffner's first chapters give a deep but very clear introduction to the legal philosophies behind our Constitution, then introduce the Constitution itself as an evolution from thinkers and circumstances in Europe. When he homes in on the particulars of overweening executive power, including examples from previous administrations, readers are well posed to understand and keep turning the pages. Highly recommended for suitable collections.--Margaret Heilbrun, Library Journal (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Reviews
Review Quotes
"This is the right book, at the right time, by the right author. It is clear, dispassionate, and straightforward. A key strength is the manner in which Pfiffner interweaves historical and theoretical perspectives with his contemporary critique of Bush doctrine. Power Play epitomizes the best of Brookings Press's many distinguished titles that apply superb political science to contemporary problems and issues." --Robert J. Spitzer, author of Saving the Constitution from Lawyers
"This is the right book, at the right time, by the right author. It is clear, dispassionate, and straightforward. A key strength is the manner in which Pfiffner interweaves historical and theoretical perspectives with his contemporary critique of Bush doctrine. Power Play epitomizes the best of Brookings Press's many distinguished titles that apply superb political science to contemporary problems and issues." ┬┐Robert J. Spitzer, author of Saving the Constitution from Lawyers
"This book should deeply trouble any citizen. In a clear, fair-minded review of the evidence, Pfiffner builds a powerful case pointing toward one unmistakable conclusion: since 9/11 the claims and actions of the Bush administration have been undermining the constitutional principles and rule of law on which our Republic is based." --Hugh Heclo, Robinson Professor of Public Affairs, George Mason University
"With his customary thoughtfulness and scholarly integrity, Jim Pfiffner has examined the post-9/11 events, analyzed the legal arguments offered by the administration, and with great precision cut through to the central issues that should concern us all. A very important contribution to reviving constitutional government." --Louis Fisher, author of Presidential War Power
"This book offers a powerful counterpoise to recent defenses of presidential powers... Pfiffner makes a convincing case that the stakes are none other than the preservation of "rule of law and the Constitution." Recommended." -- CHOICE
" Power Play is an accessible account of some of the ways in which the Bush Administration has advanced controversial claims about executive power and why their actions are constitutionally dangerous. The book should appeal to scholars of American politics, the presidency, and public law." -- Law & Politics Book Review
" Power Play should be required reading for everyone with an interest in U.S. public administration. [It] is an excellent, unusually important and necessary book that deserves a very broad and attentive audience." -- Public Administration Review
" Power Play succinctly and convincingly lays out the historical backdrop for the development of our system of government, based on the rule of law, and just as convincingly presents his argument that the Bush administration has put that very system on precipice.... Pfiffner's book should be required reading for every Member of Congress, if for nothing else than to refresh their collective memory of just what that oath of office they take means." -- Daily Kos
" Power Play is meticulously researched, engagingly written, and passionately argued. Its essential argument is that the United States was formed as a reaction to monarchy, and that U.S. presidents --no matter the threat against America --were never meant to have the power of kings. As long as diligent scholars such as Pfiffner are around, they won't." --Carl M.Cannon, co-author of Reagan's Disciple: George W. Bush's Troubled Quest for a Presidential Legacy
"Pfiffner's first chapters give a deep but very clear introduction to the legal philosophies behind our Constitution, then introduce the Constitution itself as an evolution from thinkers and circumstances in Europe. When he homes in on the particulars of overweening executive power, including examples from previous administrations, readers are well posed to understand and keep turning the pages. Highly recommended for suitable collections." -- Library Journal
"Those wishing for a more detailed legal discussion of what went wrong during the Bush administration would do well to check out James P. Pfiffner's book, Power Play ... [it] is well organized and makes compelling reading." --Stephen Griffin, Balkinization blog
This item was reviewed in:
ForeWord Magazine, July 2008
Library Journal, August 2008
Choice, November 2008
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Library of Congress Summary
"Analyzes the Bush presidency's efforts to expand executive power, putting them into constitutional and historical perspective. Explores the evolution of Anglo-American thinking about executive power and individual rights. Documents how the current administration has undermined the separation of powers and shows how these practices have imperiled the rule of law"--Provided by publisher.
Main Description
The framers of the U.S. Constitution divided the federal government's powers among three branches: the executive, the legislative, and the judiciary. Their goal was to prevent tyranny by ensuring that none of the branches could govern alone. While numerous presidents have sought to escape these constitutional constraints, the administration of George W. Bush went farther than most. It denied the writ of habeas corpus to individuals deemed to be enemy combatants. It suspended the Geneva Convention and allowed or encouraged the use of harsh interrogation methods amounting to torture. It ordered the surveillance of Americans without obtaining warrants as required by law. And it issued signing statements declaring that the president does not have the duty to faithfully execute hundreds of provisions in the laws he has signed. Power Play analyzes the Bush presidency's efforts to expand executive power in these four domains and puts them into constitutional and historical perspective. Pfiffner explores the evolution of Anglo-American thinking about executive power and individual rights. He highlights the lessons the Constitution's framers drew from such philosophers as Locke and Montesquieu, as well as English constitutional history. He documents the ways in which the Bush administration's policies have undermined the separation of powers, and he shows how these practices have imperiled the rule of law. Following 9/11, the Bush presidency engaged in a two-front offensive. In Afghanistan and Iraq, the administration aggressively prosecuted the "war on terror." At home, it targeted constraints on the power of the executive. Power Play lays bare the extent of this second campaign and explains why it will continue to threaten the future of republican government if the other two branches do not assert their own constitutional prerogatives.
Table of Contents
Prefacep. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
A Government of Laws or Men?p. 1
The Nature of Executive Powerp. 13
Creating Individual Rights and an Independent Legislaturep. 33
The American Constitutionp. 56
The Power to Imprison: Habeas Corpusp. 84
The Power to Torturep. 128
The Power to Surveilp. 168
The Power to Ignore the Law: Signing Statementsp. 194
Conclusion: Constitutionalism and the Rule of Lawp. 229
Notesp. 247
Indexp. 289
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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