Just as Gaul was divided into three parts, so too judges and constitutional lawyers interested in national security tend to fall into one of three broad camps:
(1) Executive unilateralists, who believe that courts and legislatures do and should defer heavily to the executive during wars and emergencies. Our book, Terror in the Balance, stakes out this view, which has only a few other defenders in the legal academy.
(2) Democratic process theorists, who are most worried about the separation of legislative and executive powers, and who want above all that executive action during emergencies should be authorized by Congress. (A variant of this view is Bruce Ackerman’s proposal for a “framework statute,” to be enacted before the next attack, that would structure executive emergency powers). For democratic theorists, the central text is Justice Robert Jackson’s concurrence in the Steel Seizure case, which suggests that the president’s powers are at their high-water mark when he acts with congressional approval, and at low ebb when he acts against congressional instructions.
(3) Civil libertarians, who typically want courts to examine emergency action to ensure that it does not violate constitutional rights.