As the 2020 U.S. presidential election is slowly approaching, do you find yourself researching more and more about presidential authority? Have you ever wondered what executive privilege entails? Well, we have a database for that! We are excited to announce our newest database, Executive Privilege! Our extensive metadata indexing gives users unique browse options and a custom search index including primary and secondary material related to executive privilege. This new database includes hundreds of congressional hearings, reports, memoranda, and related scholarly articles, as well as other documents from all three government branches. We have included this database at no additional charge for select U.S. and Canadian Core subscriptions!*
What Is Executive Privilege?
Executive privilege is the right of the president of the United States to keep certain information confidential from subpoenas and other oversight measures by the legislative and judicial branches of government. Contrary to popular belief, executive privilege is not specifically mentioned in the U.S. Constitution. Instead, it is an implied power based on the separation of powers that the Constitution outlines. Presidents have argued that in order to effectively govern, some degree of confidentiality must exist in order to have frank and candid discussions with their aides and staff members. Executive privilege is frequently invoked in the name of national security, but there is no set standard or issues in which executive privilege can be invoked; it’s the prerogative of the president regarding when to assert executive privilege.
The issue of executive privilege was most famously addressed in the 1974 Supreme Court case United States v. Nixon, which compelled President Richard Nixon to produce his Oval Office audiotapes of conversations regarding the Watergate investigation. The President argued that his station was absolutely immune from the judicial process. The Supreme Court disagreed, and held that “neither the doctrine of separation of powers, nor the need for confidentiality of high-level communications, without more, can sustain an absolute, unqualified Presidential privilege of immunity from judicial process under all circumstances.”
Since then, Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, Barack Obama, and Donald Trump have all asserted executive privilege and been met with opposition from the legislative and judicial branches. Most recently, President Trump has claimed executive privilege with respect to both documents and testimony. Some of these claims are still making their way through the courts and, like every executive privilege case, have the potential to upend the delicate balance of power between the three branches of our government.
Explore the Database
To help understand this mighty but sometimes fuzzy power, this database provides primary and secondary source material such as government documents from the executive, legislative, and judicial branches, as well as law review articles and books that invoke, debate, and explore instances of executive privilege from the country’s founding to the present day.
Unique Browse Options
Once logged into the Executive Privilege database, navigate to the Documents tab to view unique browse options such as Title, Author, Branch, Controversy, Administration, and Privilege. For example, click on the Title option to see a handy A-Z index, as well as corresponding Administration and Author information.
Custom Index and Intuitive Search Results
Use the custom search index to search the full text of these documents by keyword, creator/author, title, or administration. To further refine the results, limit your search to a particular date range. For example, search Text for whitewater and fill in Clinton in the Administration field for six results related to President Clinton’s invocation of executive privilege against Senate subpoenas in the Whitewater investigation.
Relevant Books and Scholarly Articles
In addition to the hundreds of government documents included in this database, find links to a wealth of related scholarly work from right within the interface under the Scholarly Articles tab.
All scholarly documents have been carefully selected by HeinOnline editors for their relevance to the database, and they link right to our very own Law Journal Library. Sort the works by article title, author, most-cited, or year. Search all of the works at once by title or author, as well.
For example, want to see if any articles exist by the author Raoul Berger? Simply add his name to the Author portion of the drop-down menu and click the search button to view a variety of articles written by this author.
For more information on how to search and navigate this new database, check out our dedicated LibGuide!
About the Editor
Maxwell D. Anderson is a graduate of the University of Nebraska College of Law (2019). During law school, he immersed himself in constitutional law, and soon became interested in executive privilege, about which he wrote a seminar paper and an independent study paper. While conducting research for his in-depth work on the topic, he began collecting and cataloguing primary source material related to executive privilege, eventually amassing a treasure trove of topical documents, complete with spreadsheets of references and cross-references. In the fall 2017 semester, he interned in the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs in Washington, D.C., where he gained an appreciation for apolitical relationship-building. Prior to law school, he graduated magna cum laude from the University of North Texas, where he double majored in political science and communication studies with an emphasis in rhetoric.
Included in the Following Core Packages:
The Executive Privilege database is included at no additional cost in the following subscription packages:
- HeinOnline Academic (Canada)
- HeinOnline Academic (U.S.)
- HeinOnline Scholastic
- HeinOnline Public Library Package
- U.S. Academic Core+
- U.S. Core+ for Individuals
- U.S. Core+ for Government
- U.S. Core+ for Law Firms
- Canada Core+
- Canada Academic Core+
Don’t see your package on the list? Get in touch with our Marketing Department to discuss adding this database to your subscription.