‘The Living Presidency’ by Saikrishna Prakash

‘The Living Presidency’ by Saikrishna Prakash

Saikrishna B. Prakash of UVA Law has published a new book, The Living Presidency: An Originalist Argument against Its Ever-Expanding Powers.  

Professor Prakash’s scholarship focuses on separation of powers, particularly executive powers. He teaches Constitutional Law, Foreign Relations Law, and Presidential Powers at UVA Law. 

From the publisher, 

Liberal scholars and politicians routinely denounce the imperial presidency—a self-aggrandizing executive that has progressively sidelined Congress. Yet the same people invariably extol the virtues of a living Constitution, whose meaning adapts with the times. Saikrishna Bangalore Prakash argues that these stances are fundamentally incompatible. A constitution prone to informal amendment systematically favors the executive and ensures that there are no enduring constraints on executive power. In this careful study, Prakash contends that an originalist interpretation of the Constitution can rein in the “living presidency” legitimated by the living Constitution. 

No one who reads the Constitution would conclude that presidents may declare war, legislate by fiat, and make treaties without the Senate. Yet presidents do all these things. They get away with it, Prakash argues, because Congress, the courts, and the public routinely excuse these violations. With the passage of time, these transgressions are treated as informal constitutional amendments. The result is an executive increasingly liberated from the Constitution. The solution is originalism. Though often associated with conservative goals, originalism in Prakash’s argument should appeal to Republicans and Democrats alike, as almost all Americans decry the presidency’s stunning expansion. The Living Presidency proposes a baker’s dozen of reforms, all of which could be enacted if only Congress asserted its lawful authority. 

Recently, Professor Prakash participated in a discussion with Washington Post Columnist George F. Will about the Presidency and the themes explored in his book. The discussion was hosted by The National Constitution Center and moderated by Jeffrey Rosen. 

Learn more here or watch a video of Professor Prakash discussing the book below.  

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