Philip Bobbitt

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Philip Bobbitt is the Herbert Wechsler Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the Center on National Security at Columbia Law School and Distinguished Senior Lecturer at the University of Texas. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and a former trustee of Princeton University. He has served in all three branches of government, during seven administrations, most recently as a member of the External Advisory Board of the CIA. He has published ten books, chiefly on U.S. constitutional law, nuclear strategy, and the history and evolution of the State. His most recent work is Impeachment: A Handbook (with Black, New Edition) (2018).

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Executive Power

Indicting and Prosecuting a Sitting President

There are ... incidental powers, belonging to the executive department, which are necessarily implied from the nature of the functions, which are confided to it. Among these, must necessarily be included the power to perform them, without any obstruction or impediment whatsoever. The President cannot, therefore, be liable to arrest, imprisonment, or detention, while he is in the discharge of the duties of his office ...

Joseph Story, Commentaries on the Constitution of the United States, § 1563 (1833)

Executive Power

Self-Pardons: The President Can't Pardon Himself, So Why Do People Think He Can?

There appears to be some confusion surrounding the question of whether a president can pardon himself. There are many judgments to be drawn from the familiar forms of legal argument—history, text, structure, prudence, doctrine and ethos—all of which cohere around the conclusion that such a pardon is not constitutionally permissible, a conclusion also reached by the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC). These arguments are discussed in more detail in “Impeachment: A Handbook,” by Charles L. Black, Jr. and Philip Bobbitt, forthcoming from Yale Press in September.