ADVANTAGES

POSNER: I think the president is enormously powerful and certainly the most powerful person in the United States and really in the world by a large amount. But I also don’t disagree with you. What people usually say about the president is that his power is constrained by the Constitution, and in particular this idea about separation of powers, where the government is divided into the executive branch, led by the president, Congress, and the courts. And the old idea, which I think we all learned in junior high school is that this separation of powers is what constrains the president. But I think most people — political scientists, historians, and me, as well — think that that system doesn’t really operate the way people imagine it does. And in fact, these constraints are much more limited.

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