ABSTRACT

The 1973 act reflected a bipartisan consensus that America’s political and economic interests, as well as the welfare of the world’s poor and even the planet’s survival, depended on government-sponsored family planning in developing countries. Separation of powers and checks and balances are supposed to make policy changes slow and arduous. The case of the Global Gag Rule is not unique. Sudden policy reversals by unilateral executive directive are increasingly commonplace. The constitutional silence invites the question of how it is that a practice that was never addressed in the Constitution or at the Constitutional Convention became such an integral part of the presidential arsenal. A 2007 Congressional Research Service study counted more than two dozen kinds of presidential directives, including proclamations, national security directives, military orders, and presidential memoranda.