In light of Senator Kennedy's sharp questioning on Alito's zealous belief in the "unitary executive," it is important to understand what that means. In a speech to the Federalist Society in 2001, Alito said
When I was in OLC  . . ., we were strong proponents of the theory of the unitary executive, that all federal executive power is vested by the Constitution in the President. And I thought then, and I still think, that this theory best captures the meaning of the Constitution's text and structure . . . ." "[T]he case for a unitary executive seems, if anything, stronger today than it was in the 18th Century.
What does that mean? Here's what it means for Bush:
The executive branch shall construe Title X in Division A of the Act, relating to detainees, in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President to supervise the unitary executive branch and as Commander in Chief and consistent with the constitutional limitations on the judicial power, which will assist in achieving the shared objective of the Congress and the President, evidenced in Title X, of protecting the American people from further terrorist attacks.
The Bybee Memo put it this way:
Any effort by the Congress to regulate the interrogation of battlefield combatants would violate the Constitution's sole vesting of the Commander in Chief authority in the President. . . . Congress can no more interfere with the President's conduct of the interrogation of enemy combatants than it can dictate strategic or tactical decisions on the battlefield.
Alito did NOT disavow this view of an unfettered Presidential power - of the President as King.
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