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Archive for December 20th, 2021

Can the President Do Anything They Want in a National Emergency? Probably

A 2019 article by Elizabeth Goitein lays out the alarming scope of a President’s Emergency Powers. Goitein codirects the Brennan Center for Justice’s Liberty & National Security Program, is a Senior Practitioner Fellow at the University of Chicago’s Center for Effective Government, and is a nationally-recognized expert on presidential emergency powers, government surveillance, and government secrecy.

While there are good arguments for a President to have some extraordinary powers in extraordinary times, the scope and breadth of a President’s powers in an emergency is chilling. It is important for citizens to know about this, especially in light of the insurrection on January 6 and the discussion about the backsliding of democracy in the United States. The author states, “The moment the president declares a ‘national emergency’—a decision that is entirely within his discretion—he is able to set aside many of the legal limits on his authority.”

Goitein takes an exhaustive look at presidential powers throughout history and analyzes statutes and case law on the topic.