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Wednesday, July 06, 2022

Mass Resignations As A Check on Executive Authority

The implosion of Boris Johnson's Government in the past day is quite extraordinary. (If you missed the debate in the House of Commons or the parliamentary committee hearing today, spend some time to watch.) At one level you could view this situation as an example of the superiority of the unwritten British Constitution. There you can easily get rid of a bad Prime Minister without an election. The United States is almost always stuck with a bad President until his term expires.

But today's events prompt another thought. In recent years we see more instances in which resignations or the threat of mass resignations operates as a more effective check on executive power than the formal mechanisms. The recent testimony before the January 6th committee explained that the threat of such resignations blocked President Trump's idea of replacing the Acting Attorney General right before the insurrection. Back during Bush 43's Administration, the threat of mass resignations from the DOJ convinced the President to change course on aspects of his counter-terrorism policy. And there's the Saturday Night Massacre.

Scholars need to pay more attention to this new unwritten constitutional mechanism.   

Posted by Gerard Magliocca on July 6, 2022 at 12:24 PM | Permalink


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