chapter  2
21 Pages

The Presidency and the Constitution


Few issues in our long Anglo-American constitutional history can match the drama, importance, and transcendent interest of the efforts to rein in executive power and subordinate it to the principle of the rule of law. Courts have grappled with the issue since at least 1608, when Sir Edward Coke boldly declared to an outraged James I that the king was, indeed, subject to the law. King James, according to Coke, was “greatly offended,” and declared that his opinion constituted “treason.” It was, perhaps, only Coke’s wit and willingness to fall “flatt on all fower” that spared him a sentence to the Tower of London.1