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Constitutional Dictatorship: Crisis…

Constitutional Dictatorship: Crisis Government in the Modern Democracies

by Clinton Rossiter

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Citing historical precedents of violating the United States Constitution and establishing dictatorial powers exercised by presidents in times of war, the late Rossiter (formerly a professor of government at Cornell U.) argued that there is an implicit legal right to temporarily overthrow the constitution, even if the Supreme Court has consistently rejected that claim. Rossiter claimed to recognize the dangers of his doctrine and set out a blueprint for judging whether that right may be exercised. He compares Lincoln's suspension of Habeas Corpus, Roosevelt's internment of Japanese- Americans, the overthrow of Weimar Germany, and other examples for American, German, British, and French overthrows of constitutional order as a means for establishing the parameters for constitutional usurpation. In an insightful introduction. William Quirk places Rossiter's work in the context of the new century and the current war on terrorism. Constitutional Dictatorship examines the experiences with emergency government of four large modern democracies -- the United States, Great Britain, France, and the German Republic of 1919-1933 -- to see what unusual powers and procedures these constitutional states employed in their various periods of national trial. Rossiter proposed specific criteria by which to judge the worth and propriety of any resort to constitutional dictatorship. He provides a clear roadmap for both citizen and Congress to judge an executive's actions. In his introduction. Quirk notes that Rossiter's concept -- the rapid return to normal government when the crisis is concluded -- rests on a premise that appears to be missing today. This volume will be essential reading for those interested in politics, constitutional law, and American history.… (more)

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