ARTICLE: PRESIDENTIAL SYSTEMS IN STRESS: EMERGENCY POWERS IN ARGENTINA AND THE UNITED STATES Skip over navigation
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Copyright (c) 1993 University of Michigan Law School
Michigan Journal of International Law

ARTICLE: PRESIDENTIAL SYSTEMS IN STRESS: EMERGENCY POWERS IN ARGENTINA AND THE UNITED STATES

FALL, 1993

15 Mich. J. Int'l L. 1

Author

William C. Banks * and Alejandro D. Carrio **

Excerpt

INTRODUCTION

During a set of interviews in 1976, former President Richard Nixon maintained that only the president's judgment could fix the dividing line between constitutional and unconstitutional conduct when national security is at issue: when "the President does it, that means that it is not illegal." 1 Now, in the 1990s, executives from an eclectic combination of nations -- Russia, Germany, Venezuela, and Brazil, among others -- are claiming extraordinary powers. 2 As radical and out of step with constitutional norms as Nixon's statement and claims by these national leaders are, they also mesh with the views of most recent presidents of Argentina and the United States and reflect the growth of presidential emergency powers in these two nations.

Consider the following examples:

1) An executive agency compiled computer files on thousands of citizens involved in a protest movement, infiltrated organizations, opened mail, collected non-public information on activists, and monitored international phone, telegraph, and radio traffic involving these people and groups. When the targets of surveillance sued the government for violating constitutional rights, the executive admitted that at least some of the plaintiffs were targets of the surveillance, but it successfully stopped the lawsuit by refusing to reveal data concerning the details of the surveillance, claiming that disclosure would seriously injure the national security. 3

2) When high inflation and dwindling bank reserves threatened the national economy, the executive declared a freeze on bank customer savings withdrawals. The government summarily seized depositors' currency and in its place, provided ...
 
 
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