PUBLISHED:February 09, 2009

Program in Public Law launches blog on executive branch power

Feb. 9, 2009 — A blog dedicated to monitoring, analyzing, and providing a forum for discussing questions of presidential power is the latest initiative of the Program in Public Law at Duke Law School.

"Executive Watch" features news stories and commentary about executive-branch actions, including executive orders, presidential memos, and signing statements.

“One of the three major functions of the Program in Public Law is to encourage and contribute to public understanding of important constitutional and public law issues,” said Christopher Schroeder, Charles S. Murphy Professor of Law and Public Policy Studies and director of the Program in Public Law. “Executive power issues were raised on numerous occasions during the Bush administration. Many people are watching the extent to which the Obama administration’s approach to these questions will parallel or diverge from the Bush administration’s approach.”

Issues ranging from claims of executive privilege to questions about the scope of the president’s war powers authority will be fodder for Executive Watch comment, said Schroeder. His comments, “The Incredibly Slippery Idea of Executive Authority” and “Lingering Issues of Executive Privilege,” launched the blog on Feb. 9.

A former deputy assistant attorney general in the Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice and acting head of that office in 1996-97, Schroeder also served as chief counsel of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1992-93. He noted that questions of executive power have been present since the founding of the Republic. “What makes them comment-worthy is that they’ve been controversial in the past eight years,” he said.

“We hope Executive Watch will become the go-to site for anyone interested in better understanding a current dispute on the subject of executive-branch power,” said Schroeder. “We hope to comment on matters in the news and also to reflect upon larger questions of executive authority in a comprehensive way, all in a highly accessible manner.”

For more information, contact Frances Presma at or (919) 613-7248.