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Opinion

Applying the 'Lefever Standard' to Presidential Nominees

By Michael Posner

Michael Posner_bio_article

Following a highly contentious presidential election and in a deeply divided country, the confirmation process will be subject to intense public scrutiny.

In the coming days, members of the U.S. Senate will perform their constitutional duty to provide advice and consent to more than 1,200 presidential nominees for senior positions throughout the federal government. Following a highly contentious presidential election and in a deeply divided country, the confirmation process will be subject to intense public scrutiny.

While in general, the president should have wide latitude to choose his team, in the unusual situation where a nominee intends to undermine the core function of his or her office, it is the duty of senators to challenge those nominees. The Senate did so 35 years ago, when rejecting the nomination of Ernest Lefever. The Lefever confirmation process offers some instructive lessons for senators today. 

The advice and consent clause was written into the Constitution by the framers as part of a compromise aimed at maintaining a balance of power. By allowing the president wide discretion in making appointments, but subjecting those choices to Senate review, the framers sought to ensure both strong executive power balanced by a strong Congress.

Read the full article as published by The Hill.
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Michael Posner is a Professor of Business and Society and Co-Director of the NYU Stern Center for Business and Human Rights.