Reorienting the Principal-Agent Frame: Adopting the “Hartian” Assumption in Understanding and Shaping Legal Constraints on the Executive

Harvard Law and Policy Review | Volume 7, No. 2: Summer 2013 | By Manik Suri

Presidential SealDebate over whether law can, and indeed should, constrain presidential power is as old as the Republic. This article claims that liberal legalists, who adopt a consequentialist “Holmesian” view of the law, ignore the possibility that law  as an internalized normative commitment or duty – can restrain the executive. This alternative “Hartian” view may help explain how laws constrain presidential power at key moments in history. Recognizing the difficulty in establishing causation, the article nonetheless concludes that much is at stake in how we frame the relationship between law and the executive. Read the full piece here.

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