Executive Privilege

executive privilege, exemption of the executive branch of government, or its officers, from having to give evidence, specifically, in U.S. law, the exemption of the president from disclosing information to congressional inquiries or the judiciary. Claims of executive privilege are usually invoked to protect confidential military or diplomatic operations or to protect the private discussions and debates of the president with close aides. Efforts by various presidents since Eisenhower to gain absolute and unqualified privilege have been rejected by the courts, though they remain inclined to support most claims of executive privilege. Where criminal charges are being brought against a president, as in the case of Richard Nixon, the claims of executive privilege are weakest; during the process leading to the impeachment of President Bill Clinton, numerous claims made by the White House were dropped when it was clear courts would not uphold them.

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

The Law: Executive Privilege: Definition and Standards of Application
Rozell, Mark J.
Presidential Studies Quarterly, Vol. 29, No. 4, December 1999
Presidential Secrecy and Deception: Beyond the Power to Persuade
John M. Orman.
Greenwood Press, 1980
Source Material: Nixon's Ghost Haunts the Presidential Records Act: The Reagan and George W. Bush Administrations
Montgomery, Bruce P.
Presidential Studies Quarterly, Vol. 32, No. 4, December 2002
Executive Privilege Revived?: Secrecy and Conflict during the Bush Presidency
Rozell, Mark J.
Duke Law Journal, Vol. 52, No. 2, November 2002
Executive Privilege in the Lewinsky Scandal: Giving a Good Doctrine a Bad Name
Rozell, Mark J.
Presidential Studies Quarterly, Vol. 28, No. 4, Fall 1998
Executive Privilege in the Carter Administration: The "Open" Presidency and Secrecy Policy
Rozell, Mark J.
Presidential Studies Quarterly, Vol. 27, No. 2, Spring 1997
Executive Privilege in the Ford Administration: Prudence in the Exercise of Presidential Power
Rozell, Mark J.
Presidential Studies Quarterly, Vol. 28, No. 2, Spring 1998
Ronald Reagan's America
Eric J. Schmertz; Natalie Datlof; Alexej Ugrinsky.
Greenwood Press, vol.2, 1997
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 21 "Executive Privilege in the Reagan Administration: Diluting a Constitutional Doctrine"
Watergate and Afterward: The Legacy of Richard M. Nixon
Leon Friedman; William F. Levantrosser.
Greenwood Press, 1992
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 7 "President Nixon's Conception of Executive Privilege: Defining the Scope and Limits of Executive Branch Secrecy"
"We Have a Duty": The Supreme Court and the Watergate Tapes Litigation
Howard Ball; Paul L. Murphy.
Greenwood Press, 1990
"From Pillar to Post": The Prosecution of American Presidents
Turley, Jonathan.
American Criminal Law Review, Vol. 37, No. 3, Summer 2000
The Law: President Bush's First Executive Privilege Claim: The FBI/Boston Investigation
Tiefer, Charles.
Presidential Studies Quarterly, Vol. 33, No. 1, March 2003
George Washington and the Origins of the American Presidency
Mark J. Rozell; William D. Pederson; Frank J. Williams.
Praeger, 2000
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 7 "George Washington and the Origins of Executive Privilege"
Out of Sight, but Not out of Mind: How Executive Order 13,233 Expands Executive Privilege While Simultaneously Preventing Access to Presidential Records
Karin, Marcy Lynn.
Stanford Law Review, Vol. 55, No. 2, November 2002
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