This is a guide to the presidential powers and limits of the Constitution, for anyone voting—or running—for our highest office. Can the president launch a nuclear attack without congressional approval? Is it ever a crime to criticize the president? Can states legally resist a president’s executive order? In today’s fraught political climate, it often seems as if we must become constitutional law scholars in order to simply understand the news from Washington, let alone make a responsible decision at the polls.
Constitutional law scholar and political science professor Corey Brettschneider guides us through the Constitution and explains the powers—and limits—that it places on the presidency. From the document itself and from American history’s most famous court cases, we learn why certain powers were granted to the presidency, how the Bill of Rights limits those powers, and what “we the people” can do to influence the nation’s highest public office—including, if need be, removing the person in it.
Corey Brettschneider is a professor of political science at Brown University, where he teaches constitutional law and politics, as well as visiting professor of law at Fordham Law School. His writing has appeared in TIME, Politico, and the New York Times.