Chapter

The President

Louis Henkin

in Foreign Affairs and the United States Constitution

Second edition

Published in print November 1996 | ISBN: 9780198260981
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191682193 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198260981.003.0017
The President

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Students of the United States government, and newspaper-readers generally, know that U.S. foreign relations are in the charge of the president. Foreign governments believe that it is principally he who determines American policy towards them. Long ago, the Supreme Court of the United States described ‘the very delicate, plenary and exclusive power of the president as the sole organ of the federal government in the field of international relations’. A stranger reading the constitution would get little inkling of such large presidential authority, and the general reader might comb the constitution yet to find little to support the legitimacy of large presidential claims. What the constitution says and does not say, then, could not have determined what the president can and can not do. The structure of the federal government, the facts of national life, the realities and exigencies of international relations, and the practices of diplomacy, have afforded presidents unique temptations and unique opportunities to acquire unique and ever larger powers.

Keywords: United States; foreign relations; presidents; Supreme Court; constitution; legitimacy; federal government; diplomacy

Chapter.  14119 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law

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