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1991

Supreme Court of the United States

Columbia Law School

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The Constitutional Principle Of Separation Of Powers, Thomas W. Merrill Jan 1991

The Constitutional Principle Of Separation Of Powers, Thomas W. Merrill

Faculty Scholarship

The Supreme Court has had many occasions in recent years to consider what it calls "the constitutional principle of separation of powers." The principle in question has been effusively praised and on occasion vigorously enforced. But just what is it? The Court clearly believes that the Constitution contains an organizing principle that is more than the sum of the specific clauses that govern relations among the branches. Yet notwithstanding the many testimonials to the importance of the principle, its content remains remarkably elusive.

The central problem, as many have observed, is that the Court has employed two very different conceptions ...