Share this

The Myth of the Imperial Presidency: How Public Opinion Checks the Unilateral Executive, Dino P. Christenson and Douglas L. Kriner

Reviewed by Chris Edelson



For generations, scholars have debated the appropriate scope and limits of U.S. presidential power. There are at least two competing schools of thought. One school includes scholars such as Louis Fisher who believe that presidents have largely broken free from the rule of law, abetted by Congress and the courts. Another school includes scholars such as John Yoo who believe that the president can set aside laws designed to put limits on executive power. Scholars in both schools usually have an opinion as to whether presidential power unchecked by law is desirable: those in the first school see this as incompatible with the Madisonian system of checks and balances, while those in the second school see it as something to be embraced.

In The Myth of the Imperial Presidency, Dino P. Christenson and Douglas L. Kriner suggest another way of considering questions involving presidential power. Christenson and Kriner agree with the Fisher school that formal Madisonian checks have “all but collapsed in the face of an ascendant presidential juggernaut” (p. 5). However, they conclude that unilateral presidential power is not “unfettered,” it is just that “the most important check on presidential unila

To continue reading, see options above.

More by This Author

The Executive Unbound: After the Madisonian Republic, Eric A. Posner and Adrian Vermeule Reviewed by Chris Edelson

About PSQ's Editor


Full Access

Join the Academy of Political Science and automatically receive Political Science Quarterly.


Book Talk | Phantoms of a Beleaguered Republic: The Deep State and the Unitary Executive
May 24, 2022


Editor’s spotlight

Women's History Month

Woodrow Wilson, Alice Paul, and the Woman Suffrage Movement
Sally Hunter Graham

The Year of the Woman? Candidates, Voters, and the 1992 Elections
Ester R. Fuchs and Michael X. Delli Carpini


Search the Archives

Publishing since 1886, PSQ is the most widely read and accessible scholarly journal with distinguished contributors such as: Lisa Anderson, Robert A. Dahl, Samuel P. Huntington, Robert Jervis, Joseph S. Nye, Jr., Theda Skocpol, Woodrow Wilson

view additional issues

Most read

Articles | Book reviews

Understanding the Bush Doctrine
Robert Jervis

The Study of Administration
Woodrow Wilson

Notes on Roosevelt's "Quarantine" Speech
Dorothy Borg

view all

New APS Book

Perspectives on Presidential Elections, 1992–2020   PERSPECTIVES ON PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS, 1992–2020

About US

Academy of Political Science

The Academy of Political Science, promotes objective, scholarly analyses of political, social, and economic issues. Through its conferences and publications APS provides analysis and insight into both domestic and foreign policy issues.

Political Science Quarterly

With neither an ideological nor a partisan bias, PSQ looks at facts and analyzes data objectively to help readers understand what is really going on in national and world affairs.

Stay Connected

newsstand locator
About APS