The Presidential Statutory Stretch

38 Pages Posted: 19 Aug 2015

See all articles by Peter M. Shane

Peter M. Shane

Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law

Date Written: August 17, 2015


This paper, prepared for a Fall, 2015 conference in honor of Professor Harold Bruff, argues that, in certain circumstances, a "statutory stretch" in defense of a presidential initiative may be both justified and more protective of the rule of law than would be bolder claims of exclusive executive authority under Article II. Such a rhetorical strategy may be superior in preserving an ethos of legal accountability within the executive branch and implicitly invites Congress to respond with legislative change if it disapproves the presidential action. It is a strategy that should be reserved, however, for truly exigent circumstances in which the Administration is willing to expose its argument to public scrutiny. Government lawyers assisting in the "stretch" should insure that their clients understand the vulnerabilities to their argument and should not knowingly offer weak arguments to avoid legal constraints aimed at avoiding grievous harm to individuals.

Keywords: president, executive power, administrative law, constitutional law, statutory interpretation, legal ethics, government lawyers

Suggested Citation

Shane, Peter M., The Presidential Statutory Stretch (August 17, 2015). Ohio State Public Law Working Paper No. 302, Available at SSRN: or

Peter M. Shane (Contact Author)

Ohio State University (OSU) - Michael E. Moritz College of Law ( email )

55 West 12th Avenue
Columbus, OH 43210
United States

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