Addington to Heritage

By Jack Goldsmith
Monday, September 6, 2010, 4:37 AM

David Addington, Vice-President Cheney’s Counsel and later Chief of Staff, is the new Vice-President for Domestic and Economic Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation.  Conor Friedersdorf complains that there is an inconsistency between Addington's broad conception of Executive war powers and Heritage’s commitment to “limited government” and to the notion that “the principles and ideas of the American Founding are worth conserving and renewing.”

But there is no (necessary) inconsistency.  In fact, there is a strand of conservative thought that goes back at least to Justice Sutherland’s 1936 opinion in Curtiss-Wright and that argues, based on principles from the constitutional founding, that the Executive should have broad power in matters related to war and foreign affairs but relatively limited power in the realm of domestic regulation.  (It is also true, as I explain in this review, that from about the time of Curtiss-Wright until the 1970s, the dominant strand of American conservatism was deeply suspicious of Executive power in both the domestic and foreign realms.)  And whatever one thinks about Addington's views of Executive power (he and I had our differences), they are (as I explained in The Terror Presidency) grounded in a thorough and principled understanding of constitutional text and history.

Some may wonder whether Addington, whose jobs in government focused on national security, is qualified to head up domestic and economic policy studies.  I have no doubt that he is.  When I worked with him during my time in the Office of Legal Counsel, he had an amazing ability, on his own and without staff input, and in his “free time” when he wasn’t tending to his national security duties, to scour the bowels of the federal register and pending bills and identify all manner of potentially unconstitutional or otherwise crazy stuff related to purely domestic affairs. Addington has strong and informed conservative views on excessive government regulation an eagle-eye for regulation or bureaucracy gone bad.  Seems like a good fit with Heritage to me.