OLLI Special Projects presents Torn from the Headlines April Topic!
 Please join us Monday, April 12th at 4 pm for a conversation on “Presidential Executive Powers: Promise, Perils, and Parameters” and a lively Q and A covering the use and impact of these powers.

US Presidents have historically signed executive orders and memoranda having profound effects, for good or ill, on our country. Famous orders with a positive impact ended slavery, created the WPA, and integrated the military. The most pernicious executive order established the internment of Japanese-American citizens. Well known controversial orders include the pardon of President Nixon and the order banning immigration from Muslim countries. Presidents have increasingly turned to executive actions to set policy, enforce statutes, and direct agencies to act when the legislature does not. 

President Biden has been especially prolific in his early use of executive orders and memoranda. By March 15, less than two months after his inauguration, he had issued over 50 such actions on issues such as DACA, deportation, COVID, strengthening the ACA, the climate crisis, racial equity, and strengthening US supply chains.  Some questions arise: what are the limitations on presidential power to promulgate these orders? At what point
do executive actions interfere with legislative power?  How do courts resolve these questions, and what is the likelihood that they will find that orders such as DACA are constitutional?  

Join us Monday, April 12th from 4-5 pm with U-M Law School faculty expert Julian Mortenson in a Q and A moderated by Lee Pizzimenti, retired Law School Professor and OLLI member.


 Julian Mortenson         

Julian Davis Mortenson is the James G. Phillip Professor of Law at the University of Michigan Law School.  An engaged scholar and award-winning teacher, he specializes in constitutional and international law. His current book project, The Myth of Presidential Power, is under contract with Harvard University Press.  It develops a comprehensive account of presidential power at the American founding. He is also co-authoring a new constitutional law casebook for Foundation Press.  He has held visiting appointments on the faculties of Cambridge University, KU Leuven, and the University of Tokyo.

Professor Mortenson is an active litigator. Representative constitutional matters include his service as lead counsel in a pre-Obergefell suit that required Michigan to recognize the marriages of more than 300 same-sex couples; his work as lead appellate counsel for the Arab-American Civil Rights League's challenge to the Muslim ban; his work advising gun control groups on both litigation and legislative reform; his representation of discharged military service members challenging the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law prior to its congressional repeal; and his work as one of the principal drafters of the merits briefs in the landmark case Boumediene v. Bush, which secured the right of Guantanamo detainees to challenge their incarceration. He also litigates complex transnational matters in the U.S. courts, including actions involving the enforcement of foreign law and foreign judgments. He has served as arbitrator, counsel, and expert witness in commercial and investor-state disputes under the ICSID, ICC, UNCITRAL, and VIAC rules.

Before joining the faculty, Professor Mortenson worked at the law firm WilmerHale, in the President's Office of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, and as a law clerk for Supreme Court Justice David H. Souter and Judge J. Harvie Wilkinson III of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals. Prior to law school, he was a management consultant with a client portfolio spanning the finance, manufacturing, oil and gas, and information technology industries. Professor Mortenson was salutatorian of his class at Stanford Law School and received an AB in history, summa cum laude, from Harvard College.

For those registering for Professor Mortenson’s session, we have attached two optional supplementary articles on this topic, which will provide background.

To Register: Visit OLLI’s Website Course Catalog. Sign in at
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