PS: Political Science & Politics


Teaching the Presidency: Idealizing a Constitutional Office

Louis Fishera1

a1 The Constitution Project

From World War II to the present, prominent scholars placed their hopes in the presidency to protect the nation from outside threats and deal effectively with domestic crises. Their theories weakened the constitutional system of separation of powers and checks and balances by reviving an outsized trust in executive power (especially over external affairs) that William Blackstone and others promoted in eighteenth-century England. The American framers of the Constitution studied those models with great care and fully rejected those precedents when they declared their independence from England.

Louis Fisher, Scholar in Residence, joined The Constitution Project in August 2010 after retiring from the Library of Congress, where he served for four decades as senior specialist in Separation of Powers (Congressional Research Service) and Specialist in Constitutional Law (Law Library). Many of his articles, books, and congressional testimony are available on his webpage, This article draws from the author's keynote address presented at the American Politics Group Annual Conference, Rothermere American Institute, St. Anne's College, Oxford University, January 2011, “Presidential Power: Real and Imaginary. Why Do Social Scientists (and the Public) Prefer the Latter?”