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The Origins and Development of Executive Branch Czars

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 August 2013

University of Michigan–Dearborn
George Mason University


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1. The formal title for Montgomery was the Director for Recovery of Auto Communities and Workers.

2. Tami Luhby, “Obama Taps Czar to Help Autoworkers,” CNN Money, 30 March 2009, at (accessed 7 February 2010).

3. Executive Order 13509 74 FR 30903 (23 June 2009).

4. James P. Pfiffner, “Presidential Use of White House ‘Czars.’” Testimony Before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, U.S. Congress, 22 October 2009, 1. (accessed 13 May 2012).

5. Examples of dual appointments include: Paul V. McNutt, who served as director of the Office of Defense Health and Welfare Services and administrator of the Federal Security Agency under Franklin D. Roosevelt. John Connally, who served as chair of the Cost of Living Council and secretary of treasury under Richard Nixon.

6. On this key point, see Shane, Peter M., Madison’s Nightmare: How Executive Power Threatens American Democracy (Chicago, 2009), esp. chaps. 1 and 2; see also Fisher, Louis, On Appreciating Congress: The People’s Branch (Boulder, 2010), esp. chaps. 2 and 3.

7. U.S. President’s Committee on Administrative Management, Report of the President’s Committee (Washington, D.C., 1937), 5.

8. Cronin, Thomas, The State of the Presidency (Boston, 1975), 118.

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9. 64 Stat. 419 (1950); 3 U.S.C. § 301 (2006). For a detailed account of the law, see Schubert, Glendon A. Jr., “The Presidential Subdelegation Act of 1950,” Journal of Politics 13 (November 1951): 647–74.

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10. “Nasby in Detroit,” Chicago Tribune, 10 September 1866, 1; William Safire, “A Czar Is Not a Tsar,” New York Times, 13 November 1983, SM24; Remini, Robert, Andrew Jackson (New York, 1969), 185; James, Marquis, Andrew Jackson: Portrait of a President (New York, 1937), 307.

11. Safire, “A Czar Is Not a Tsar,” SM24; Sperber, Hans and Trittschuh, Travis, Dictionary of American Political Terms (Detroit, 1964), 111.

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12. McCall, Samuel Walker, Thomas B. Reed (Boston, 1914), 169; “At the Nation’s Capitol: New ‘Czar’ in Cannon,” Los Angeles Times, 6 March 1906, 4; “Says He Is No Czar,” Washington Post, 10 December 1908, 2.

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13. George Washington to Gouverneur Morris, 13 October 1789, in The Life of Gouverneur Morris, ed. Jared Sparks (Boston, 1832), 2: 3–4; E. Wilder Spaulding, Ambassadors Ordinary and Extraordinary (Washington, D.C.), 6; Wriston, Henry M., “The Special Envoy,” Foreign Affairs 38 (1959): 220; Wriston, Henry M., Executive Agents in American Foreign Relations (Baltimore, 1929), 157.

14. Ferling, John, The Ascent of George Washington: The Hidden Political Genius of an American Icon (New York, 2009), 327; Stahr, Walter, John Jay: Founding Father (New York, 2006), 314–15; Wright, Quincy, The Control of American Foreign Relations (New York, 1922), 326.

15. Spaulding, Ambassadors Ordinary and Extraordinary, 6.

16. Wriston, “Special Envoy,” 223–24; Elmer Plischke, Diplomat in Chief: The President at the Summit (New York, 1986), 97–99.

17. Plischke, Diplomat in Chief, 99; Wooner, David B. and Kurial, Richard G., FDR, the Vatican, and the Roman Catholic Church in America, 1933–1945 (New York, 2003), 165; Flynn, George Q., “Franklin Roosevelt and the Vatican: The Myron Taylor Appointment,” Catholic Historical Review 58 (July 1972): 171–94.

18. The appropriations used to pay for special envoys largely come from a contingent fund account for foreign relations that dates to a 1 July 1790 act of Congress. See 1 Stat 128; Knott, Stephen F., Secret and Sanctioned: Covert Operations and the American Presidency (New York, 1996), 4960.

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19. Executive Order 2594 (13 April 1917), in Richardson, Compilation of the Messages and Papers, 17: 8247.

20. Mock, James R. and Larson, Cedric, Words That Won the War: The Story of the Committee on Public Information, 1917–1919 (New York, 1968), 42.

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21. Baruch, Bernard M., Baruch: The Public Years (New York, 1960), 43; Field, Carter, Bernard Baruch: Park Bench Statesman (New York, 1944), 149; 39 Stat. 619, 649–50 (1916).

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23. 40 Stat. 556 (1918).

24. “Executive Order [Establishment of War Industries Board],” 28 May 1918, in Richardson, Compilation of the Messages and Papers, 18: 8518–19.

25. House of Representatives, Committee on the Judiciary, “Administration of the So-called Overman Act,” House Doc. no. 1841, 65th Cong., 3rd sess., 3 March 1919, 29.

26. Wilson, Woodrow, Constitutional Government in the United States (New York, 1917), 68.

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27. Ibid., 14.

28. See, generally, Grant, James, Bernard M. Baruch: The Adventures of a Wall Street Legend (New York, 1983), 177–78; Baruch, Baruch: The Public Years, 58–69; Coit, Margaret L., Mr. Baruch (Boston, 1957), 185–94.

29. Grant, Bernard M. Baruch, 172. See also Baruch, Baruch: The Public Years, 79.

30. Field, Bernard Baruch, 155; and 56 Cong. Rec. 4506 (3 April 1918).

31. In particular, see the statements by Senator Charles S. Thomas (D-Colo.) and Senator James Kimble Vardaman (D-Miss.) in 56 Cong. Rec. 4946, 4951 (11 April 1918).

32. Berdahl, Clarence Arthur, War Powers of the Executive in the United States (Urbana, 1921), 174; Porter, Bruce D., War and the Rise of the State (New York, 1994), 271.

33. Baruch, Baruch: The Public Years, 72–73; White, William, Bernard Baruch: Portrait of a Citizen (New York, 1950), 52.

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36. Greenberg, David, Calvin Coolidge (New York, 2006), 12; Milkis, Sidney M. and Nelson, Michael, The American Presidency: Origins and Development, 1776–1998 (Washington, D.C., 1999), 242; Garry, Patrick M., Liberalism and American Identity (Kent, Ohio, 1992), 63.

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39. Executive Order 8985, 6 FR 6625 (19 December 1941). See also Sweeney, Michael S., Secrets of Victory: The Office of Censorship and the American Press and Radio in World War II (Chapel Hill, 2001), 36.

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40. 55 Stat. 838, 840–841 (1941).

41. 55 Stat. 838 (1941).

42. Edward S. Corwin, The President: Office and Powers, 1787–1957 (New York, 1957), 243. See also Corwin, Edward S., Presidential Power and the Constitution (Ithaca, 1976), 165.

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43. Sturm, Albert L., “Emergencies and the Presidency,” Journal of Politics 11 (February 1949): 135.

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44. 58 Stat. 361, 387 (1944).

45. 58 Stat. 785 (1944).

46. 59 Stat. 106, 134 (1945).

47. See, generally, Warshaw, Shirley Anne, Powersharing: White House-Cabinet Relations in the Modern Presidency (Albany, N.Y., 1996).

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48. Mosher, Frederick, ed., “The President Needs Help” (Lanham, Md., 1988), 17, cited in Burke, John P., The Institutional Presidency: Organizing and Managing the White House from FDR to Clinton, 2nd ed. (Baltimore, 2000), 37.

49. Hess, Stephen, Organizing the Presidency, 3rd ed. (Washington, D.C., 2002), 86.

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50. Kearns, Doris, “Lyndon Johnson’s Political Personality,” in The Presidency Reappraised, ed. Cronin, Thomas E. and Tugwell, Rexford G. (New York, 1977), 128.

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51. Hess, Organizing the Presidency, 92.

52. For more details on the law, see Sollenberger, Mitchel A. and Rozell, Mark J., “Prerogative Power and Executive Branch Czars: President Obama’s Signing Statement,” Presidential Studies Quarterly 41 (December 2011): 819–33.

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53. Rudalevige, Andrew, The New Imperial Presidency: Renewing Presidential Power After Watergate (Ann Arbor, 2005), 209–10.

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54. For more information on Obama’s executive branch czars, see Rozell, Mark J. and Sollenberger, Mitchel A., “Obama’s Executive Branch Czars: The Constitutional Controversy and a Legislative Solution,” Congress and the Presidency 39 (January–April 2012): 7499.

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55. Michael O’Brien, “Republicans Introduce Bill to Eliminate Presidential ‘Czars,’” The Hill, 1 January 2011. Available from

56. Lisa Lerer, “GOP Senators Seek End to Czars,” Politico, 16 September 2009. Available from

57. Barack Obama, “Statement by the President on H.R. 1473,” White House Website, 15 April 2011. Available from

58. See various papers in Crovitz, L. Gordon and Rabkin, Jeremy A., eds., The Fettered Presidency. (Washington, D.C., 1989); Mansfield, Harvey, Taming the Prince: The Ambivalence of Modern Executive Power (New York, 1989).

59. See Ceaser, James W., “In Defense of Separation of Powers,” in Separation of Powers: Does It Still Work? ed. Goldwin, Robert A. and Kaufman, Art (Washington, D.C., 1986), 168–93.

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60. Locke, John, Second Treatise of Government (Indianapolis, 1952), sections 146–48.

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61. Ibid., chap. 14, sec. 166.

62. See de Montesquieu, Baron, The Spirit of the Laws (New York, 1966), book 2.

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63. Roosevelt, Theodore, Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography (New York, 1913), 388–89.

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64. Peterson, Paul, “The Constitution and Separation of Powers,” in Taking the Constitution Seriously: Essays on the Constitution and Constitutional Law, ed. McDowell, Gary (Dubuque, 1981), 195.

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65. See Calabresi, Stephen G. and Yoo, Christopher, The Unitary Executive: Presidential Power from Washington to Bush (New Haven, 2008).

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66. Fisher, Louis, “The Unitary Executive: Ideology versus the Constitution,” in The Unitary Executive and the Modern Presidency, ed. Barilleaux, Ryan and Kelley, Christopher S. (College Station, Tex., 2010), 36.

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67. Taft, William Howard, Our Chief Magistrate and His Powers (New York, 1916), 138.

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68. Sollenberger and Rozell, “Prerogative Power and Executive Branch Czars,” 819–33.

69. U.S. Constitution, Art. II, sec. 2.

70. United States v. Maurice, 26 Fed. Cas. 1211, 1214 (C.C. Va. 1823).

71. Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1, 126, footnote 162 (1976).

72. United States v. Hartwell, 73 U.S. (6 Wall.) 385, 393 (1867).

73. 99 U.S. 508, 511–12.

74. 424 U.S. 1, 126.

75. Office of Legal Counsel, “Officers of the United States Within the Meaning of the Appointments Clause,” 16 April 2007, at (accessed 11 May 2012), 4.

76. Ibid., 11–12.

77. Ibid., 12.

78. Scholette, Kevin, “The American Czars,” Cornell Journal of Law and Public Policy 20 (Fall 2010): 233.

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79. 487 U.S. 654, 671–72 (1988).

80. Bravin, Nick, “Is Morrison v. Olson Still Good Law? The Court’s New Appointments Clause Jurisprudence,” Columbia Law Review 98 (1998): 1116.

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81. 487 U.S. 654, 671 (1988).

82. 520 U.S. 651, 661–62 (1997).

83. Ibid., 662–663 (1997).

84. Martin, John R., “Morrison v. Olson and Executive Power,” Texas Review of Law & Politics 4 (Spring 2000): 529.

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85. Weyand, Jacqueline M., “Presidential Appointment of Czars: Executive Power Play or Administrative Renewal?Northwestern Interdisciplinary Law Review 3 (Spring 2010): 140.

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86. Executive Order 8248, 4 FR 3864 (8 September 1939).

87. 53 Stat. 561 (1939).

88. 92 Stat. 2445 (1978).

89. U.S. Constitution, Art. I, sec. 1.

90. Locke, John, Two Treatises of Government (New York, 1947), 194.

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91. Hampton v. United States, 276 U.S. 394, 409.

92. 84 Stat. 799 (1970); Kosters, Marvin H., Controls and Inflation: The Economic Stabilization Program in Retrospect (Washington, D.C., 1975), 314.

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93. Executive Order 11615, 36 FR 15727 (15 August 1971); Executive Order 11627, 35 FR 11627 (15 October 1971).

94. 85 Stat. 38 (1971).

95. 64 Stat. 419 (1950); 3 U.S.C. § 301 (2006).

96. See Executive Order 11592, 36 FR 8555 (6 May 1971).

97. 1971 Pub. Papers 1024 (7 October 1971). See also Kosters, Controls and Inflation, 18; and Weber, Arnold R., In Pursuit of Price Stability: The Wage-Price Freeze of 1971 (Washington, D.C., 1973), 23.

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98. Pallitoo, Robert M. and Weaver, William G., Presidential Secrecy and the Law (Baltimore, 2007), 115.

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99. See, generally, Rozell, Mark J., Executive Privilege: Presidential Power, Secrecy, and Accountability, Third Edition (Lawrence, Kans., 2010).

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100. Executive Order 13507, 74 FR 17071–73 (8 April 2009).

101. Neil King Jr., “Auto Czar Quits Post Six Months into the Job,” Wall Street Journal, 14 July 2009, A1.

102. David Shepardson, “The Inside Story of the GM, Chrysler Bailouts,” Detroit News, 24 November 2009, A1.

103. Executive Order 13503, 74 FR 8139 (19 February 2009).

104. John Cornyn, Statement at Hearing, “Examining the History and Legality of Executive Branch ‘Czars,’” 6 October 2009, 2, (accessed 11 May 2012).

105. See Healy, Gene, The Cult of the Presidency: America’s Dangerous Devotion to Executive Power (Washington, D.C., 2008).

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106. On this point, see Barger, Harold M., The Impossible Presidency: Illusions and Realities of Executive Power (Glenview, Ill., 1984), chap. 1.

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107. See Walcott, Charles E. and Hult, Karen M., Governing the White House: From Hoover Through LBJ (Lawrence, Kans., 1995).

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