The Attorney General's Lawyer: Inside the Meese Justice Department

By Douglas W. Kmiec | Go to book overview

2
In Search of Original Intent

There are, in my judgment, two personality types attracted to Washington: managers and movers. Managers would do well in any organization, public or private, keeping matters orderly and running smoothly. Movers, on the other hand, are excited by the pursuit of ideas and ideals, bothering little with organizational detail. To be fully successful, any political administration needs both types, and in fact, the perfect executive officer would have elements of each quality. The Reagan administration attracted more movers than managers. They were answering the President's rhetorical call "to curb the size and influence of the federal establishment and to demand recognition of the distinction between the powers granted to the Federal Government and those reserved to the states or the people." 1

Now government could be reigned in by cutting revenue and removing administrative regulation. Reagan did both. But the nature and scope of government interference in daily life also depends on consistently observing that the federal government is constitutionally limited. The President deeply felt that the high level of federal intrusion in personal life and the decline of state responsibility could be traced to legal and judicial attitudes that either lost sight of, or wholeheartedly disregarded, the limits placed on the federal government by the Constitution.

Ronald Reagan was always the first to admit that he was a nonlawyer. Given the prevalence of lawyers in government, the President would make the disclaimer--as probably most Americans do--as a source of authority, not disability. Notwithstanding this common sense distrust of lawyering, the President recognized well that there was a pressing need

-17-

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The Attorney General's Lawyer: Inside the Meese Justice Department
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • Foreword xi
  • Introduction 1
  • Note 3
  • Part I - Beginnings 5
  • 1 - Surmounting the Independent Counsel 7
  • Notes 16
  • 2 - In Search of Original Intent 17
  • 3 - The Unitary Executive 47
  • Notes 65
  • Part II - The Essence 69
  • 4 - Family: Abortion, Aids, Pornography, and School Choice 71
  • Notes 106
  • 5 - Work: Securing Economic Liberty 111
  • Notes 129
  • 6 - Neighborhood: The Revival of Federalism 132
  • 7 - Peace: The Color-Blind Society 152
  • Notes 175
  • 8 - Freedom: Iran-Contra and the Criminalization of the Separation of Powers 179
  • Notes 188
  • Part III - The Finale 191
  • 9 - Ethics, Give Us More Ethics 193
  • Notes 214
  • Epilogue 219
  • Notes 220
  • Selected Bibliography 221
  • Index 225
  • About the Author 235
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