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Sovereignty and the New Executive Authority

April 09, 2019

A new book, co-edited by Prof. Claire Finklestein and Michael Skerker titled Sovereignty and the New Executive Authority, explores the moral and legal issues relating to democratic sovereignty by addressing questions about its nature, examining sovereignty between states, and dealing with post 9/11 developments in the U.S. The volume’s 15 essays are drawn from among the disciplines of law, political, science, philosophy, and international relations and cover an expansive range of topics, from historical theories and international affairs to governmental transparency and legitimacy. Finally, it examines the changes in the concept of sovereignty post-9/11 in the United States and their impact on democracy and the rule of law, particularly in the area of national security practice.

In the post- 9/11 United States, the growth of the national security state has resulted in a growing struggle to maintain the legal and ethical boundaries surrounding executive authority, boundaries that help to define and protect democratic governance. These post-9/11 developments and their effect on the scope of presidential power present hard questions and are fueling today’s intense debates among political leaders, citizens, constitutional scholars, historians, and philosophers. 

This volume contributes to the public conversation on the nature of executive authority and its relation to the broader topic of sovereignty in several ways. First, readers learn that the current vital questions surrounding the nature of executive authority and presidential power have their intellectual roots in historical and philosophical writings about the nature of sovereignty. Second, sovereignty has historically been a complicated topic; this volume helps identify the terms of the debate. Third, and most critically, citizens’ understanding of the concept of sovereignty is essential to grasping the available options for confronting current challenges to the rule of law in democratic societies. 

Claire Finkelstein is the Algernon Biddle Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and founder and director of the Center for Ethics and the Rule of Law (CERL). Professor Finkelstein focuses her research on the ethical and rule of law issues that arise in national security law. In 2012, she founded CERL, a non-partisan interdisciplinary institute that promotes and preserves the rule of law in national security, democratic governance, and contemporary warfare and conflict. She is the co-editor of Sovereignty and the New Executive Authority recently published by Oxford University Press.