The Developments of Congressional Investigative Power

By M. Nelson McGeary | Go to book overview

PREFACE

THE process of government is always changing. The alterations may take place so slowly as to be almost imperceptible, but new techniques in the methods of governing are continually developing as new problems present themselves or as it becomes desirable or necessary for government to make adjustments in the face of political, economic, or social transformations.

The purpose of the present study is to re-examine one small phase of the national government in the United States—the Congressional investigation. Although a few articles have appeared in recent years on this subject, no book-length study has been published since 1929. Indeed, most of the previous literature on the subject was written in the " twenties " at a time when the emphasis of investigations was on the supervision of the Executive. The succeeding economic depression coupled with the emergence of the New Deal—when, for the first time since investigations were well publicized, a strong party majority, presidentially led, was committed to a program of social change—seems to give a somewhat different perspective to investigations. The legal status of these inquiries also is examined in the light of the decisions of the courts in the past decade.

I cannot over-emphasize my appreciation of Professor Arthur W. Macmahon's help in bringing this work to the point of publication. The inspiration for the undertaking first came from him, and he has given many hours to supervising the study. Professors Lindsay Rogers, Schuyler C. Wallace, and Joseph P. Chamberlain all read the manuscript in its entirety and made helpful suggestions as to both the content and the style. Professor Noel T. Dowling's comments on Chapter V enabled me to avoid several pitfalls in the discussion of the legal aspects of the subject. All these men may, of course, disclaim any responsibility for the statements, conclusions, and errors in this book. I must add that the writing of this work

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