You may remember from 10th grade the argument in 1787 between the federalists and anti-federalists over the ratification of the Constitution. The anti-federalists’ main worry was the Constitution as written would centralize too much power in the national government, particularly the executive branch. In fact, they said, we’d end up with a tyranny again, just after we’d fought a revolution to escape a king. Meanwhile, the federalists argued the Constitution had checks and balances that would prevent this.
Of course, the Constitution was ratified, leading to much rejoicing and eventually several segments of Schoolhouse Rock. But in history class they always tell you the anti-federalists were wrong: we didn’t end up with a tyranny. The Constitution prevents the executive branch from doing anything it wants. For instance, only Congress has the power to declare war.
But John Yoo has some surprising news: the anti-federalists were right! The Constitution does give the president, particularly in matters of war and peace, exactly the same powers of the British king circa 1787! The only difference is, Yoo thinks this is a good thing.
Think I’m exaggerating? Well, check out Yoo’s website, which has an article he wrote that’s incorporated into the book:
…[The anti-federalist] Cato correctly concluded that in the realm of practical politics, the President’s authority under the Constitution did not differ in important measure from that of the King.
Ha ha ha! The joke’s on you, American history!
The best part is, Yoo is associated with the Federalist Society, the notorious conservative legal organization. I guess one of the main tenets of the Federalist Society is that the anti-federalists were right all along.
SPECIAL NIXON BONUS: Here’s what James St. Clair, Nixon’s counsel, said in the famous 1974 case U.S. v. Nixon about executive privilege:
The President wants me to argue that he is as powerful a monarch as Louis XIV, only four years at a time, and is not subject to the processes of any court in the land except the court of impeachment.