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War PowersThe Politics of Constitutional Authority$
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Mariah Zeisberg

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691157221

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691157221.001.0001

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Presidential Discretion and the Path to War

Presidential Discretion and the Path to War

The Mexican War and World War II

(p.54) Chapter 2 Presidential Discretion and the Path to War
War Powers

Mariah Zeisberg

Princeton University Press

This chapter pairs President Polk's entry into the Mexican War with President Roosevelt's movement toward World War II. Using the relational conception, it argues that while both Polk and Roosevelt behaved independently and made good use of the distinctive capacities of the executive branch, Roosevelt's behavior was more deeply relational in that it was more subject to legislative rebuff. Roosevelt's constitutional authority was also buttressed by a defensive security necessity. After World War II, repelling troops at the border was transparently revealed as an inadequate standard for judging whether a president was using the office's war powers “defensively.” Confronted with this transparent destabilization of the category of “defensive,” the United States embarked on a project of global institution building to reduce its vulnerabilities.

Keywords:   James Polk, Franklin Roosevelt, war authority, Mexican War, World War II, relational conception, constitutional authority

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