Poster Title

United States Federal Courts and Inter-Branch War Powers

Grade Level at Time of Presentation

Junior

Institution

University of Louisville

KY House District #

40

KY Senate District #

35

Department

Department of Political Science

Abstract

US Federal Courts and Inter-Branch War Powers

Author: Erica Fields, with Dr. Jasmine Farrier and Dr. Laura Moyer

Department of Political Science- University of Louisville

Introduction

When a separation of powers issue arises between the branches of the United States government, they can seek remedy in the federal courts. This has become especially relevant in the area of war powers. Over the past 40 years, members of Congress have challenged Presidential encroachment of war powers 10 times in the courts.

Purpose

To determine if the rulings in the 10 war powers cases could best be explained by the ideologies of the judge(s) serving on the cases, or if institutional pressures regarding the judiciary’s place in the separation of powers system compromised the Court’s ability to rule on their policy preferences.

Hypotheses

H1: The Attitudinal Hypothesis

There will be a positive relationship between the ideological predictors of a judge and rulings in war powers cases.

H2: The Institutional Hypothesis

There will be no relationship between the ideological predictors of a judge and their rulings in war powers cases, reiterating the idea that courts make decisions based on other factors relating to its role as an institution within the separation of powers system.

Results

Federal courts ruled in favor of Congress twice on the District Court level and once on the Appellate level, regardless of party affiliation, which suggested evidence for H2, although some instances of party loyalty throughout the data were displayed that provided support for H1.

Conclusion

Regarding war powers cases, federal courts do not tend to strike down Presidential action that Congress feels encroaches on its Constitutional powers. This hesitancy to declare a Presidential act unconstitutional demonstrates an institutional fear of an activist court regarding separation of powers issues, and gives unprecedented foreign policy power to the Executive branch.

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United States Federal Courts and Inter-Branch War Powers

US Federal Courts and Inter-Branch War Powers

Author: Erica Fields, with Dr. Jasmine Farrier and Dr. Laura Moyer

Department of Political Science- University of Louisville

Introduction

When a separation of powers issue arises between the branches of the United States government, they can seek remedy in the federal courts. This has become especially relevant in the area of war powers. Over the past 40 years, members of Congress have challenged Presidential encroachment of war powers 10 times in the courts.

Purpose

To determine if the rulings in the 10 war powers cases could best be explained by the ideologies of the judge(s) serving on the cases, or if institutional pressures regarding the judiciary’s place in the separation of powers system compromised the Court’s ability to rule on their policy preferences.

Hypotheses

H1: The Attitudinal Hypothesis

There will be a positive relationship between the ideological predictors of a judge and rulings in war powers cases.

H2: The Institutional Hypothesis

There will be no relationship between the ideological predictors of a judge and their rulings in war powers cases, reiterating the idea that courts make decisions based on other factors relating to its role as an institution within the separation of powers system.

Results

Federal courts ruled in favor of Congress twice on the District Court level and once on the Appellate level, regardless of party affiliation, which suggested evidence for H2, although some instances of party loyalty throughout the data were displayed that provided support for H1.

Conclusion

Regarding war powers cases, federal courts do not tend to strike down Presidential action that Congress feels encroaches on its Constitutional powers. This hesitancy to declare a Presidential act unconstitutional demonstrates an institutional fear of an activist court regarding separation of powers issues, and gives unprecedented foreign policy power to the Executive branch.