Can a President Choose to Not Enforce the Law? [No. 86]

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The Federalist Society
Published at : 19 Jan 2021
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The Constitution says "The President shall take care that the laws are faithfully executed." Professor Saikrishna Prakash explains that this means the President does get to choose whether or not to enforce the law, as passed by Congress. However, difficulties arise if a President thinks a law is unconstitutional or simply doesn’t like a law. The President is required to execute the law to the best of his ability although he does have some discretion over how he allocates time and resources to do so.

Professor Saikrishna Prakash is the James Monroe Distinguished Professor of Law and Paul G. Mahoney Research Professor of Law at the University of Virginia School of Law. Professor Prakash’s scholarship focuses on separation of powers, particularly executive powers. He teaches Constitutional Law, Foreign Relations Law and Presidential Powers.

As always, the Federalist Society takes no position on particular legal or public policy issues; all expressions of opinion are those of the speaker.

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