Presidential advisers, both Democratic and Republican, long ago discovered ways to magnify presidential power at the cost of legal principles and the system of checks and balances. This essay briefly considers the limits to executive branch capacity to provide reliable legal and constitutional analysis in times of emergency, including covert military operations. It highlights the special risks government faces when the circle of presidential advisers narrows because of highly classified operations and there is less opportunity for senior officials, including attorneys, to pass judgment on pending initiatives.
Professor Peter M. Shane is the Jacob E. Davis and Jacob E. Davis II Chair in Law at the Ohio State University Moritz School of Law. Professor Shane came to Ohio State in 2003 from Carnegie Mellon University's H. John Heinz III School of Public Policy and Management. He is an internationally recognized scholar in administrative law, with a specialty in separation of powers law, and has co-authored leading casebooks on each subject. He has served on the faculty at the University of Iowa College of Law and was dean at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
In addition to his outstanding law teaching and scholarship, Professor Shane has received a National Science Foundation grant for interdisciplinary study related to cyberspace and democracy. At Ohio State, he provides strong leadership in interdisciplinary scholarship and teaching.