Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Fall 2017

Department 1

Political Science


While considerable debate has occurred over the founders’ original conception of the executive’s proper role, most can agree that the unitary executive theory developed during the George W. Bush administration expanded executive power far beyond that original conception. Though a vocal opponent to Bush’s expansion of power, President Barack Obama asserted similarly sweeping powers in both foreign and domestic policy. While President Donald Trump demonstrates clear ambivalence towards an all-encompassing rule of law, early indicators suggest that he will exhibit a proclivity for robust assertions of executive power that will rival or surpass his immediate predecessors even if, in some cases, he would prefer to punt politically challenging issues to Congress under the guise of not having the power to act. For its part, Congress has largely appeared unwilling or unable – functional equivalents – of restraining expansions of executive power by any of the three most recent presidents. As such, the unitary executive is alive and well … and, even if it is not actively expanding under Trump, previous expansions under his predecessors mean there is plenty of executive authority to go around.


Written for POL 224: The American Presidency.

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.