Sample Literature Review
Sample Literature Review
Sampl e Literature Review in Pol itic al Sc ienc e
Formal Constitutional Scholarship on the
American Presidency: A Literature Review
A literature review (also known as a literature survey or bibliographic essay) is a common assignment across the disciplines.
For more information on how to approach this task, see our handout on Writing Literature Reviews.
For over three decades, scholarship on the American presidency has taken place beneath the shadow of Richard
Neustadt's Presidential Power  , first published in 1960 and periodically updated since that time. Neustadt's book can be seen to also exist beneath a larger shadow cast by the developing notion of a modern presidency that dated from the administration of Franklin Roosevelt and that represented a transformation from the previous, more traditional presidency.
 This modern presidency recognized the informal leadership powers of the president and argued that these powers overshadowed the formal constitutional powers of the traditional presidency, and that they were especially necessary for effective government. Neustadt's book also displaced Edward S. Corwin's The President: Offices and Powers as the dominant work in presidential scholarship. Corwin describes his work as "primarily a study in American public law," and its central theme as "the development and contemporary status of presidential power and of the presidential office under the
Constitution" which did not ignore "the personal and political aspects of the subject."  Neustadt explicitly rejects this approach, defining his theme rather as "personal power and its politics: what it is, how to get it, how to keep it, how to lose it," and further declaring "this is not a book about the Presidency as an organization or as legal powers or as precedents or as procedures.”  Neustadt's approach represents a fundamental shift of emphasis in scholarship on the presidency and it has had a profound influence on subsequent scholarship. 
This emphasis on presidential power floundered under the perceived irresponsible usurpations of power evidenced in
Lyndon Johnson's Vietnam policy and Richard Nixon's campaign irregularities that resulted in the Watergate break-in by people associated with his White House and campaign organizations. Scholarship on the presidency began to seek an antidote to uncontrolled presidential power, which eventually led back to the Constitution. This paper will consider some of the scholarship of the past fifteen years that represents a return to the Constitution as a primary source of presidential power and authority. It will also address some of the alternative viewpoints as well as critiques and some derivative scholarship. As a focal point, I have chosen an essay by Joseph M. Bessette and Jeffrey Tulis, "The Constitution, Politics, and the Presidency," and scholarship that has followed from that essay as well as closely associated efforts. Bessette and Tulis' essay provides a clearly stated review of recent presidential scholarship as well as a foundation for rehabilitating the Constitution as a continuing source of political and legal guidance for the American presidency within the framework of constitutional separation of powers. They hark back to Corwin and his public law approach to presidential scholarship, but theirs is not simply a restatement of Corwin. Instead, Bessette and Tulis encourage a re-combining of the then divergent legal and political approaches to study of the presidency, a joining that recognizes the legal limitations upon the office while at the same time acknowledging the political range of activities available to the President, some of them even extra-legal when necessity dictates, that are built into the Constitution and operate daily through the doctrine of separation of powers.  This essay, while perhaps not the source of a significant body of…