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Presidential Emergency Powers

Introduction

What are emergency powers?

According to the Congressional Research Service:

The President of the United States has available certain powers that may be exercised in the event that the nation is threatened by crisis, exigency, or emergency circumstances (other than natural disasters, war, or near-war situations). Such powers may be stated explicitly or implied by the Constitution, assumed by the Chief Executive to be permissible constitutionally, or inferred from or specified by statute. Through legislation, Congress has made a great many delegations of authority in this regard over the past 230 years.

There are, however, limits and restraints upon the President in his exercise of emergency powers. With the exception of the habeas corpus clause, the Constitution makes no allowance for the suspension of any of its provisions during a national emergency. Disputes over the constitutionality or legality of the exercise of emergency powers are judicially reviewable.

Key Resources

Brennan Center Symposium on Presidential Emergency Powers

The Brennan Center for Justice sponsored a symposium on Presidential emergency powers on January 16, 2019. Videos of panel presentations can be viewed below.

Note

This guide does not aim to be comprehensive. It gathers some resources on the topic and can serve as a starting point for additional research. Please contact a reference librarian at lawlibref@ucdavis.edu for additional research assistance.