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Chief Justices and Chief Executives: Some Thoughts on Jim Simon's Books, 57 New York Law School Law Review 435 (2012/2013)


It is an honor to be here with my dear friend Nadine Strossen and to be at an

event celebratingJames Simon, who has been a real role model for me. Congratulations,

Jim, on yet another amazing book.

I say "yet another" because several of Jim's books are obviously connected, and

these books, read as a whole, highlight some interesting structural tensions between

the Chief Executive and the Chief Justice at various particularly fascinating moments

in American history.

To begin to see the pattern in Jim's work, think for a moment about the key

constitutional clause limiting each presidential term to "four years." Prior to FDR,

the President's tenure by tradition was limited to two terms-eight years. As with so

many presidential traditions, this one began with George Washington, who stepped

down after two terms. Had he wanted, he could have gotten elected to a third termand

even to a fourth and fifth had he lived long enough. He was unanimously elected

President in 1789, and unanimously re-elected in 1792. Every elector who cast a

ballot voted for Washington. Prior to his resignation, it might have been widely

believed that the presidency would end up being de facto a lifetime office, and that a

tradition might emerge in which an incumbent would be routinely re-elected unless

he somehow dishonored himself. Such was the emerging tradition at the state level:

Massachusetts Governor John Hancock was routinely re-elected, as were Governors

Jonathan Trumbull in Connecticut and William Livingston in New Jersey.

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