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Untrodden GroundHow Presidents Interpret the Constitution$
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Harold H. Bruff

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226211107

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226211244.001.0001

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Only a Necessity

(p.1) Introduction
Untrodden Ground

Harold H. Bruff

University of Chicago Press

The introduction describes presidential creation of constitutional law as a process resembling traditional generation of the common law. Thus, it is evolutionary and reflective of changing conditions. Over time, a large body of presidential precedents has built up. The precedents both reflect and develop the unique responsibilities of the presidential office. Presidential constitutional interpretation is flexible and speedy due to the vesting of executive power in a single individual. When accepted by Congress and the people, presidential precedents harden into constitutional conventions with some binding effects. Presidential interpretations are affected by the particular President’s character, political values, incentives, challenges, and the force of prior precedents.

Keywords:   constitutional law, common law, presidential precedents, executive power, constitutional conventions, President

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