Regarding the July 31 front-page article “Today’s presidency offers almost unchecked power”:
Nothing in Article III or any other constitutional provision grants final say on laws to the Supreme Court. The Federalist Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Marshall ruled that the court could declare acts of Congress void in its famous Marbury v. Madison decision. President Thomas Jefferson acquiesced to this because he got what he wanted politically from the court’s decision, which negated a provision of the Judiciary Act of 1789 that the court found to have unconstitutionally expanded its original jurisdiction.
The assertion that presidents “never shrink the presidency” is debatable. After World War I, Woodrow Wilson followed through on his promise to dismantle most of the mechanisms that gave him sweeping control over the economy and domestic industry during the war. Some, such as the nationalization of the railroads, have never come close to being restored.
The expansion of the presidency at the expense of Congress, and even at Congress’s bidding, is not a recent phenomenon. Congress began shifting power to the presidency from the beginning of the republic. In 1789, Congress granted the president the power to dismiss executives appointed with Senate confirmation, such as the heads of executive departments, without Senate concurrence. Some argued that department heads had independent constitutional authority and could check an overly ambitious president. Come Jan. 20, 2017, many Americans may wish that the small minority had prevailed in that long-ago debate.
Brian J. Cook, Alexandria
The article on presidential powers hit the nail on the head about the political right and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Conservative support for Mr. Trump harks back to Ronald Reagan, who, for some, resembled a holy figure.
Some conservatives still long for a political messiah. Mr. Trump’s “I alone can fix it” attitude is music to their ears. It doesn’t matter that Mr. Trump was once a liberal, because now he speaks to their fears and confirms his supporters’ distrust of illegal immigrants.
Never mind that Mr. Trump’s policy prescriptions are bombastic, insulting, dangerous and impossible to implement. Conservatives don’t care. Nor do they care that his politics conflicts with actual conservatism: self-reliance, small government and compassion.
Conservatives who feel their country’s morals and ideals are slipping away desire, as the article pointed out, a “strongman, a ruler who seems prepared to push aside the cobwebs of bureaucracy and the checks and balances of American federalism to produce instant, decisive action.”
There’s nothing wrong with seeking a messiah. However, there is something wrong with supporting a leader who believes Operation Wetback was good policy and that we should bring back internment camps. That’s not a messiah; that’s a force of darkness.
Quiana Fulton, Manassas
It’s true that presidents of both parties have been increasingly inclined to act unilaterally, but the Constitution hasn’t been changed to turn presidents into kings. Congress is just unwilling to fulfill its constitutional responsibilities. The separation of powers at the heart of the U.S. governmental structure has been abandoned in the name of party solidarity.
The idea of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump in the White House with House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) as his acolytes should be terrifying to every American, regardless of party.
Mickey Edwards, Hingham, Mass.
The writer, a congressman from Oklahoma from 1977 to 1993, was chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee and chaired policy task forces for Ronald Reagan’s presidential campaign.