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The Unitary ExecutivePresidential Power from Washington to Bush$
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Steven G. Calabresi and Christopher S. Yoo

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780300121261

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300121261.001.0001

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The Modern Debate

The Modern Debate

(p.10) The Modern Debate
The Unitary Executive

Steven G. Calabresi

Christopher S. Yoo

Yale University Press

This chapter discusses the most significant modern fight about the removal power and the unitary executive—one that centered on Congress's effort after 1978 to use independent counsels or prosecutors to investigate allegations of serious wrongdoing by senior executive branch officials outside presidential and Justice Department control. Congress first institutionalized the use of independent counsels in the aftermath of Watergate by enacting the Ethics in Government Act (EIGA) of 1978, which provided for court-appointed independent counsels whom the attorney general could only remove “for good cause.” The EIGA led to the appointment of more than twenty independent counsels to investigate high-level executive branch wrongdoing between 1978 and 1999, including most spectacularly the Kenneth Starr investigation of President Bill Clinton, as well as the Lawrence Walsh probe into the role of President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George H. W. Bush in the Iran-Contra scandal.

Keywords:   removal power, unitary executive, independent counsels, Justice Department, Watergate, executive branch, Kenneth Starr, Lawrence Walsh, Iran-Contra scandal

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