Jeff Powell's book leads to symposium

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Jeff Powell, professor of law, recently was the featured guest at a Georgia State University College of Law symposium on The President’s Authority Over Foreign Affairs, a book he published in 2002. The daylong symposium, which included two panel discussions and responses by Powell, was held on Jan. 31.

Powell’s book explores the ways in which the president may use his constitutional power to conduct foreign policy — including the use of the military — as well as the ways in which Congress may act to restrain him. The panel discussions included topics of constitutional interpretation and the Constitution outside of the courts.

Speakers at the event included Philip Chase Bobbitt, who holds the A.W. Walker Centennial Chair in Law at the University of Texas. Until 1999, Bobbitt was the senior director for strategic planning at the National Security Council. Other guests were Robert Delahunty, deputy general counsel of the White House Office of Homeland Security, and Louis Fisher, a senior specialist in separation of powers with the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress.

“It was an honor and a great privilege to have some of the leading scholars in the field, as well as several lawyers with vast practical experience in government, discussing the issues raised by my book,” Powell said. “The deeper significance of the symposium, however, lies in the opportunity it provided for frank discussion over how the Constitution allocates responsibility for the conduct of foreign affairs and the preservation of national security. Georgia State did a superb job of bringing together a wide range of views, and the exchange of ideas and disagreements was honest, cordial and constructive.”

The Georgia State Law Review is publishing the papers written for the symposium, and some of those papers could become the basis for a book. “For myself, I came back with many new ideas for my own future work,” Powell said.

Powell, also a professor of divinity at Duke and the 2002 University Scholar/Teacher of the Year, has authored several other books, including A Community Built on Words: The Constitution in History and Politics, The Constitution and the Attorneys General (which was recognized as a Choice Magazine Outstanding Academic Book of 1999), and Languages of Power: A Source Book of Early American Constitutional History.