Some have criticized President Obama for expanding the imperial presidency by taking actions without consulting Congress: executive orders on immigration and Obamacare, and recess appointment of judges at home and the deployment of war powers against ISIS, drones, Libya, and more abroad. And in January a new president will take office who might desire the same executive authority. Others argue that this is nothing new, that the President is simply exercising his well-established executive discretion. On Wednesday, June 8th, live in Philadelphia and streaming online, Intelligence Squared U.S. and the National Constitution Center will present the latest in an ongoing series of constitutional debates, on the motion “The President Has Usurped Congress’s Constitutional Power.”

The Constitution provides that “All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States,” and it goes on to grant Congress a list of enumerated powers. But some say the executive branch has taken more and more of those powers for itself, both domestically and overseas. Is Congress still the most powerful branch, or is this the era of the imperial presidency? Four highly-regarded constitutional authorities will debate this question.
The debate will also stream live online, then air soon after as part of the syndicated public radio show and podcast “Intelligence Squared U.S.” On June 8, online viewers can tune in here:
Arguing for the motion:
* Michael McConnell: Director, Constitutional Law Center & Professor, Stanford Law School
Michael McConnell is the Richard and Frances Mallery Professor of Law and director of the Constitutional Law Center at Stanford Law School, as well as senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. A leading authority on constitutional history and constitutional law, he is author of numerous articles and co-author of two casebooks, including The Constitution of the United States. Before joining Stanford in 2009, he served as a circuit judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. He has argued 14 cases in the U.S. Supreme Court, served as assistant to the Solicitor General in the Department of Justice, under President Ronald Reagan, and was a member of the President’s Intelligence Oversight Board from 1988 to 1990.
* Carrie Severino: Chief Counsel & Policy Director, Judicial Crisis Network
Carrie Severino is chief counsel and policy director of the Judicial Crisis Network. In that capacity she has testified before Congress on assorted constitutional issues and briefed senators on judicial nominations. She has written and spoken on a wide range of judicial issues, particularly the constitutional limits on government, the federal nomination process, and state judicial selection. Severino regularly files briefs in U.S. Supreme Court cases, including Hobby Lobby v. Burwell, McCullen v. Coakley, and Schuette v. BAMN. She has also filed briefs in the Halbig and King cases challenging the Obama Administration’s implementation of Obamacare. She was previously a law clerk to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and to Judge David B. Sentelle of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
Arguing against the motion:
* Adam Cox: Professor, New York University School of Law:
Adam Cox is the Robert A. Kindler Professor of Law at New York University School of Law, where he teaches and writes about immigration law, constitutional law, and democracy. Before coming to NYU, he was a professor of law at the University of Chicago Law School. He clerked for Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. After his clerkship he served as the Karpatkin Civil Rights Fellow for the American Civil Liberties Union, where he was involved in racial profiling and public defender reform litigation, and practiced at Wilmer, Cutler, and Pickering, where he first litigated immigration cases.
* Eric Posner: Professor, University of Chicago Law School
Eric Posner is the Kirkland and Ellis Distinguished Service Professor of Law Arthur and Esther Kane Research Chair at the University of Chicago Law School. His current research interests are international law and constitutional law. His books include The Twilight of International Human Rights (2014), Economic Foundations of International Law (with Alan Sykes) (2013), Contract Law and Theory (2011), The Executive Unbound: After the Madisonian Republic (with Adrian Vermeule) (2011), The Perils of Global Legalism (2009). He writes a column for Slate on legal issues. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the American Law Institute.
WHAT: Intelligence Squared U.S. Debates “The President Has Usurped Congress’s Constitutional Power”
WHEN: Wednesday, June 8, 2016 / Reception 5:30-6:15 / Debate 6:30-8:00 PM
WHERE: F.M. Kirby Auditorium at the National Constitution Center / 525 Arch Street / Independence Mall / Philadelphia, PA 19106

TICKETS: $20 for members, teachers, and students / $25 for non-members. To purchase, visit


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