The Presidents and the Constitution
A Living History
by Ken Gormley
Pub Date 10 May 2016
Shines new light on America's brilliant constitutional and presidential history, from George Washington to Barack Obama.
In this sweepingly ambitious volume, the nation’s foremost experts on the American presidency and the U.S. Constitution join together to tell the intertwined stories of how each American president has confronted and shaped the Constitution. Each occupant of the office—the first president to the forty-fourth—has contributed to the story of the Constitution through the decisions he made and the actions he took as the nation’s chief executive.
By examining presidential history through the lens of constitutional conflicts and challenges, The Presidents and the Constitution offers a fresh perspective on how the Constitution has evolved in the hands of individual presidents. It delves into key moments in American history, from Washington’s early battles with Congress to the advent of the national security presidency under George W. Bush and Barack Obama, to reveal the dramatic historical forces that drove these presidents to action. Historians and legal experts, including Richard Ellis, Gary Hart, Stanley Kutler and Kenneth Starr, bring the Constitution to life, and show how the awesome powers of the American presidency have been shapes by the men who were granted them. The book brings to the fore the overarching constitutional themes that span this country’s history and ties together presidencies in a way never before accomplished.
“Readers familiar with Gormley's authoritative work on the Clinton impeachment drama will recall how he blended scholarly detachment and fluency with the legal principles at stake with a journalistic gift for making political characters come to life, illuminating their human strengths and frailties, their mix of high and low motives. Here he has replicated that achievement and coaxed his fellow contributors to do the same. Their brisk and readable survey of 44 presidencies puts present-day controversies in context and shows how living history isn't about legal abstraction—it is about ambition, conflict, and the consequences and limits of presidential power.”
—John Harris, Politico