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Executive Power: A Delicate Balance

Russell Miller looks at German Chancellor Angela Merkel's singular actions during the refugee crisis.

Photo/Reba Saldanha Clough Center for Constitutional Democracy at Boston College talk by Russel Miller, Barat House February 13, 2020  Photograph by Reba Saldanha

Washington and Lee Law Professor Russell Miller spoke on “Executive Power in Comparative Perspective” at BC Law February 13, focusing much of his talk of how German Chancellor Angela Merkel handled the refugee crisis in the mid-2000s, allowing the borders to remain open during much of the surge.

In his presentation at the Clough Center for the Study of Constitutional Democracy event, Miller drew upon his expertise in German and comparative law to make a distinction between hard and soft constitutional limits on executive power in that nation.

Giving the example of a “hard” limit being the German court’s restraint in deciding separation of powers matters, Miller pointed to a number of “soft” limits that could be more effective in checking executive power. He listed electoral censure and elections as among the useful “guardrails of democracy.”

Miller’s teaching and scholarly research focuses on public law subjects (Constitutional Law, Administrative Law, International Law), Comparative Law Theory and Methods, and German Law and Legal Culture. He has written several books, including Privacy and Power: A Transatlantic Dialogue in the Shadow of the NSA-Affair and The Constitutional Jurisprudence of the Federal Republic of Germany (co-authored with Donald Kommers).

His articles and commentary have appeared in the American Journal of Comparative Law, American Journal of International Law, Boston College Law Review, Columbia Journal of Transnational Law, Journal of Comparative Law, Journal of National Security Law, and Virginia Journal of International Law, among others. Miller is also the co-founder and co-editor in chief of the German Law Journal.