57 Geo. Wash. L. Rev. 401 (1988-1989)
From Compromise to Confrontation: Separation of Powers in the Reagan Era

handle is hein.journals/gwlr57 and id is 409 raw text is: From Compromise to Confrontation:
Separation of Powers in the Reagan Era
Geoffrey P. Miller*
Most observers would probably agree that issues of government
structure-separation of powers and checks and balances-have be-
come increasingly important over the past twenty years, and that the
Reagan era in particular has been marked by structural disputes.
Every year the federal courts seem to decide more and more cases in
which structural issues play a decisive role. Moreover, these cases
often seem to involve direct conflict between the President and Con-
gress. Matters between the political branches that might once have
been resolved through compromise or conciliation increasingly
seem to generate conflict and confrontation. If these impressions
are accurate, they may portend a change of some significance to the
future structure of the federal government.
This Article considers whether there is a trend towards increased
controversy over government structure, and offers some tentative
hypotheses for why we might be seeing such a trend. I suggest that
the phenomenon should be understood in terms of two broad de-
velopments. First, over the past twenty years we have seen wide
fluctuations in the respective powers of the presidency and Con-
gress. The Nixon years were characterized by aggressive assertions
of presidential power vis-a-vis Congress; the Ford and Carter years
were marked by aggressive assertions of congressional authority vis-
a-vis the President. In the Reagan years the picture was mixed, with
* Associate Dean and Professor of Law, University of Chicago Law School. A.B.
1973, Princeton University; J.D. 1978, Columbia University. I would like to thank
Geoffrey R. Stone for valuable comments, Doug Holmberg, and Barry Sher for excellent
research help, and the John M. Olin Foundation for financial support.
January 1989 Vol. 57 No. 3

401

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