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Explores the dynamic institutional relationship that historically exists between the President and the Supreme Court

The Collision of Political and Legal Time

Foreign Affairs and the Supreme Court's Transformation of Executive Authority

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Kimberley L. Fletcher

How does the U.S. Supreme Court shape constitutional and political development? In The Collision of Political and Legal Time, Kimberley Fletcher answers this question by analyzing the key role the Court has played in interpreting presidential decision-making in the area of foreign affairs since 1936. She reconsiders the Curtiss-Wright Court, which instituted a new constitutional order that established plenary powers independent of congressional delegation. Fletcher also reexamines Japanese internment and detainee cases, demonstrating the entrenchment of the new constitutional order and how presidential ascendency becomes institutionalized. Other cases, such as Youngstown, illustrate how the Court, during a time of war, will check Executive power and authority.

The Collision of Political and Legal Time examines these cases and controversies in foreign policymaking through the twentieth and into the twenty-first centuries to show that the Court is not passive or constrained; it does not merely follow politics or the majority coalition. Through her nuanced analysis, Fletcher makes a larger argument about the role of the U.S. Supreme Court as an agent of change, which ultimately transforms power, shapes politics, and redirects history.

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About the Author(s)

Kimberley L. Fletcher is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at San Diego State University.

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Subject Categories

Political Science and Public Policy
Law and Criminology


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