Tanner Lectures on Human Values: Michael McConnell, Stanford Law School

The President Who Would Not Be King: Executive Power at Home and Abroad

Thu, 11/29/2018 - 4:30pm
Friend Center Lecture Hall, Room 101
Event Category: 
Co-sponsored Event

The Tanner Lectures on Human Values are presented annually at a select list of universities around the world. The University Center serves as host to these lectures at Princeton, in which an eminent scholar from philosophy, religion, the humanities, sciences, creative arts or learned professions, or a person eminent in political or social life, is invited to present a series of lectures reflecting upon scholarly and scientific learning relating to “the entire range of values pertinent to the human condition."

Professor McConnell’s lectures will address executive power and its limits under the U.S. Constitution.  His lectures will argue that the actual process of formulating the executive power at the Constitutional Convention has mostly been overlooked, perhaps because the real work was done by three committees operating behind the scenes. What they accomplished is more nuanced than either of the two major conflicting views taken today; the resulting system differs in many respects from the current conventional understanding, but it is neither more aggressively executive nor anti-executive; it is merely different in lots of interesting ways.

McConnell will also address important issues facing separation of powers today, including the problem of the administrative state.  He will present a new approach to the delegation question, including a presidentialist view of supervision of executive officers and an anti-presidentialist view of non-enforcement.  His second lecture will address the powers of peace and war, in which he will claim that the president does not have the exclusive power over foreign affairs that the Court attributes to it, a defense of a narrow understanding of the Commander in Chief power, and a moderate interpretation of presidential authority to initiate hostilities.

Presented by the University Center for Human Values.

Michael McConnell
Richard and Frances Mallery Professor of Law,
Stanford Law School

Michael W. McConnell is the Richard and Frances Mallery Professor and Director of the Constitutional Law Center at Stanford Law School, and a Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. From 2002 to the summer of 2009, he served as a Circuit Judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. McConnell has held chaired professorships at the University of Chicago and the University of Utah, and visiting professorships at Harvard and NYU. He has published widely in the fields of constitutional law and theory, especially church and state, equal protection, and the founding. In the past decade, his work has been cited in opinions of the Supreme Court second most often of any legal scholar. He is co-editor of three books: Religion and the Law, Christian Perspectives on Legal Thought, and The Constitution of the United States. McConnell has argued fifteen cases in the Supreme Court. He served as law clerk to Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan, Jr. and is Of Counsel to the appellate practice of Kirkland & Ellis.