The Second Annual Constitutional Institute at George Washington’s Mount Vernon: The Constitutionality of Executive Orders and Their Use Since Washington's Time

MCLE Credits: 6.0
Ethics Credits Included: 0.0

Live on Site: Thursday, September 29 OR Friday, September 30 /
  Fred W. Smith National Library at George Washington's Mount Vernon
Registration: 8:30 a.m.
Program: 9:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
MCLE Credit: 6.0 (Ethics: 0.0)
Live-Interactive Credit: 6.0Live Interactive MCLE Credit Symbol


Why Attend?

  • A one of a kind, truly immersive CLE experience at the new Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon
  • Practical guidance and historical perspective for any attorney dealing with constitutional issues involving Executive Orders and Executive Actions, regardless of the nature of the case
  • A unique look into George Washington’s governing philosophy as it related to Executive Authority and the ongoing actions of modern day courts to heed his words
  • An all-star faculty including a Pulitzer Prize-winning author who was also counsel to the U.S. House of Representatives, a former Counsel to the President of the United States during perhaps the most difficult period of our history, and a past Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Virginia
  • A special reception hosted by the Virginia Law Foundation will follow each program and is included at no charge, to be followed by an optional private tour of the mansion (additional fee, plus guest option, space permitting)

Cosponsored with George Washington's Mount Vernon and the Virginia Law Foundation.

Featuring Jeremy D. Bailey, Douglas Bradburn, Kate Elizabeth Brown, The Honorable Ken Cuccinelli, John W. Dean, Michael S. Greve, Edward J. Larson, Ilya Somin, and more.

George Washington's Mount VernonPresented at the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington on the grounds of Mount Vernon, this program will transport you to the very root of American jurisprudence with a unique opportunity to examine the words, thoughts, and governing philosophy of perhaps the greatest American to ever live — George Washington. Last year's program sold out weeks in advance, so this year we've added a second date to give more people the opportunity to attend.

The morning session will focus on historical perspectives from Washington to modern day, followed by a high-level panel discussion in the afternoon with nationally respected thought leaders who will address practice issues for lawyers whose clients are impacted by Executive Orders and Actions, and for government attorneys who must deal with enforcing them.

George Washington's Mount Vernon A PRIVATE EVENING TOUR OPTION follows a free reception hosted by the Virginia Law Foundation at the conclusion of the lectures. Step back in time to walk in George Washington’s footsteps. Enjoy lantern-lit lanes at Mount Vernon with stunning Potomac River views and exclusive access to the most popular historic home in America. The tour will last 1½ - 2 hours. A guest is welcome for the reception (no charge) and tour (additional fee).

Photographs of the estate courtesy of George Washington's Mount Vernon.





8:30 Registration
9:00 Introduction
Ray White
9:15 Dividing and Choosing: Checks and Balances and the Foundations of Constitutional Liberty
Douglas Bradburn, Ph.D.

When George Washington took up the challenge of becoming the first President of the United States, he noted that everything he did was creating precedents. But he wasn’t inventing everything from scratch. Washington, like all the founders, was building on traditions of constitutionalism that they had inherited from European traditions and had begun reinventing in their revolution. This lecture examines some of the foundational ideas and episodes in the long history of Anglo-American politics that helped define and refine notions of “checks and balances” in constitutional practice up to the ratification of the U.S. Constitution.
9:45 Dividing Our Royal Inheritance: The Supreme Court, the President, and the Prerogative Power in the Early Republic
Kate Elizabeth Brown, Ph.D.

How did the republic’s first statesmen and jurists understand the nature and scope of the President’s discretionary authority? In this session, Kate Brown describes the origins and expansive scope of the King’s royal prerogative. America’s framers, she argues, assumed that their republican institutions inherited much of the British monarch’s prerogative power, but that discretionary authority was diffused through newly instituted separation of powers and federalism principles. After detailing the nature of the King’s prerogative and how the U.S. Constitution divided our royal inheritance between the executive and judicial branches, she then demonstrates how the U.S. Supreme Court resolved the first major judicial challenge to the executive’s discretionary authority. In Marbury v. Madison (U.S. 1803), the Court simultaneously upheld a robust presidential prerogative power while imposing specific legal boundaries on the executive’s discretion.
10:15 A Republican Monarch of Sorts: Federalist Concepts of Executive Authority
Edward J. Larson, Ph.D., J.D.

Legitimate debate swirls over the proper extent of executive authority in the United States presidency. Turning to originalism does not clarify the matter. Uncertainty has existed since the beginning. The Constitution can be interpreted to create an imperial presidency limited only by the Republican virtue supposedly manifest in the man who would surely first hold that role, George Washington. From the outset, anti-federalists and other critics charged that the office was potentially too powerful to entrust to any one man – other than Washington. Yet when he assumed the office, he did not limit that power; and the people accepted his strong hand (such as in the execution of the Indian wars conducted during this term in office) because they generally approved of his policies – that is, until his trusted agent, Chief Justice John Jay, negotiated a widely unpopular treaty with England that shook the presidency and empowered the opposition. Yet the Constitution also contains potential restraints on the presidency and burdens that office with a powerful senate that was envisioned to act as an independent executive council in addition to as a purely legislative branch. Even under Washington, the Senate used its powers to push back. Edward Larson’s presentation will explore the clashing vision of a republican executive that emerged from the Constitutional Convention and was established by the actions of Washington as the first President. It was this first federal administration, more than the bare words of the Constitution, which gave body to the distinctly American executive. In less trusted hands, however, under the administration of John Adams, popular opposition to a heavy-handed executive spawned a political response that overthrew the Federalist dynasty and brought in Republican rule on Thomas Jefferson. In fundamental terms, however, the presidential powers assumed by Washington became the basis for the modern American executive.

10:45 Break
11:00 Executive Power in the Early Republic: Law vs. Opinion
Jeremy D. Bailey, Ph.D.

This talk will introduce participants to key disputes about executive power in the early republic, with special attention to the removal power, the treaty power, and the prerogative power. It will also argue that Jefferson's presidency marked a key challenge to prior defenses of executive power under the Constitution. In particular, Jefferson transformed executive power by relocating its foundation away from law and toward public opinion.

11:30 Moderated Discussion

Led by Doug Bradburn, this session will feature the three speakers in conversation with the audience regarding the history of executive authority in the United States from 1789 to the Civil War.

12:30 Lunch on Founders Terrace
1:30 Today's Imperial Executive: When Presidents or Governors Do It, That Means It Is Not Illegal

From Nixon to Obama, Plus McDonnell and McAuliffe.

John W. Dean, J.D.
3:00 Break
3:15 Panel Discussion on Bush, Obama, and Prognostications on Powers of President Trump/Clinton, and the Meaning, If Any, of McDonald and McAuliffe Cases
Jeremy D. Bailey, Hon. Ken Cuccinelli, John W. Dean, Michael S. Greve, Edward J. Larson, and Ilya Somin
4:45 Optional Cocktail Reception hosted by the Virginia Law Foundation (no charge) and Optional Washington Library Tours (no charge)
6:00 Optional Private Mansion Tour (additional fee, plus guest option)



Jeremy D. Bailey, Ph.D., University of Houston

Jeremy Bailey holds the Ross M. Lence Distinguished Teaching Chair at the University of Houston, where he has a dual appointment in Political Science and the Honors College. His research interests include the political thought of the early republic and the development of the American presidency. His major publications include Thomas Jefferson and Executive Power (Cambridge University Press 2007), James Madison and Constitutional Imperfection (Cambridge University Press 2015), "The New Unitary Executive and Democratic Theory," (American Political Science Review 2008) and The Contested Removal Power, 1789-2010 (University Press of Kansas 2013, coauthored with David Alvis and Flagg Taylor), which was named a 2014 “Outstanding Academic Title” by Choice. His current book project is The Idea of Presidential Representation: An Intellectual and Political History.

Douglas Bradburn, Ph.D, Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington

Douglas Bradburn, Founding Director of the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon, is a well-known scholar of early American history. He is the author of two books, and numerous articles and book chapters with a specialty in the history of the American founding and the early history of the Chesapeake. He is a current member of the board of directors for the UVA Press, a board member for the Washington Family Papers Project, and a member of the Alexandria Library Company. Before coming to Mount Vernon, Mr. Bradburn served as a professor of history and director of graduate studies at Binghamton University, State University of New York. He received the SUNY Chancellor’s award for excellence in teaching in 2010. A native of Virginia, Mr. Bradburn earned his Ph.D. in history from the University of Chicago and his B.A. in history and economics from the University of Virginia.

Kate Brown, Ph.D., Huntington University

Kate Elizabeth Brown is an assistant professor of history and political science at Huntington University in Indiana. In 2015, she received her Ph.D. from the University of Virginia in American History, with a focus on legal history. Her research explores how Alexander Hamilton used English legal principles--including the Crown's prerogative power--to develop American jurisprudence during the early national period. She has published an article in the Law and History Review titled "Rethinking People v. Croswell: Alexander Hamilton and the Nature and Scope of Common Law in the Early Republic," and she is now working on her first book, tentatively titled Alexander Hamilton and the Development of American Law. Ms. Brown was a 2013-2014 Fellow at the Gilder-Lehrman Institute of American History, as well as a 2014-2015 Research Fellow at the Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon, where she was also the recipient of James C. Rees Fellowship on the Leadership of George Washington.

Hon. Kenneth Thomas "Ken" Cuccinelli II, J.D., Former Attorney General of Virginia

The Honorable Kenneth Thomas "Ken" Cuccinelli II served as Virginia’s Attorney General from January 16, 2010 until January 12, 2014. Prior to assuming this role, he was a member of the Virginia Senate from 2002 until 2010. He was also small business owner and partner in the law firm of Cuccinelli & Day in Fairfax. He holds a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Virginia, an M.A. in International Commerce and Policy from George Mason University, and a J.D. from George Mason University School of Law.

John W. Dean, J.D., Former Nixon White House Counsel

Before becoming Counsel to the President of the United States in July 1970 at age thirty-one, John Dean was Chief Minority Counsel to the Judiciary Committee of the United States House of Representatives, the Associate Director of a law reform commission, and Associate Deputy Attorney General of the United States. He served as Richard Nixon’s White House lawyer for a thousand days. Mr. Dean did his undergraduate studies at Colgate University and the College of Wooster, with majors in English Literature and Political Science. He received a graduate fellowship from American University to study government and the presidency, before entering Georgetown University Law Center, where he received his J.D. in 1965. Mr. Dean initially recounted his days in the Nixon White House and Watergate in two books, Blind Ambition (1976) and Lost Honor (1982). He recently published The Nixon Defense: What He Knew and When He Knew It (2014), his 12th book (10th since retiring), which returns to Watergate and is based on new material now available.

Michael S. Greve, Ph.D., George Mason University

Michael S. Greve became a Professor of Law at George Mason University after having served as John G. Searle Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), where he specialized in constitutional law, courts, and business regulation. Prior to joining AEI, he was founder and co-director of the Center for Individual Rights. Professor Greve is the author of nine books and a multitude of articles appearing in scholarly publications, as well as numerous editorials, short articles, and book reviews. He is a frequent speaker for professional and scholarly organizations and has made many appearances on radio and television. He was awarded a Ph.D. and an M.A. in government by Cornell University. He also earned a Diploma from the University of Hamburg in Germany.

Edward J. Larson, Ph.D., J.D., Pepperdine University

Recipient of the Pulitzer Prize in History and numerous other awards for writing and teaching, Ed Larson holds the Hugh and Hazel Darling Chair in Law and is University Professor of History at Pepperdine University. Originally from Ohio with a Ph.D. in the history of science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and law degree from Harvard, Mr. Larson has lectured on all seven continents and taught at Stanford Law School, University of Melbourne, Leiden University, and the University of Georgia, where he chaired the History Department. Prior to becoming a professor, he practiced law in Seattle and served as counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives in Washington, D.C. Mr. Larson is the author of nine books and over one hundred published articles. His books, which have been translated into over twenty languages, include An Empire of Ice: Scott, Shackleton, and the Heroic Age of Antarctic Science; A Magnificent Catastrophe: The Tumultuous Election of 1800, America’s First Presidential Campaign; Evolution’s Workshop: God and Science in the Galapagos Islands; and the Pulitzer Prize–winning Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America's Continuing Debate Over Science and Religion. Larson recently published the first book-length study of George Washington’s role in creating the American Constitution, The Return of George Washington, 1783-1789, which became a New York Times Bestseller.

Ilya Somin, J.D., George Mason University

Ilya Somin is Professor of Law at George Mason University. His research focuses on constitutional law, property law, and the study of popular political participation and its implications for constitutional democracy. He is the author of Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government is Smarter (2016), and The Grasping Hand: Kelo v. City of New London and the Limits of Eminent Domain (2015), coauthor of A Conspiracy Against Obamacare: The Volokh Conspiracy and the Health Care Case (2013), and co-editor of Eminent Domain in Comparative Perspective (forthcoming). Professor Somin’s work has appeared in numerous scholarly journals and has also published articles in a variety of popular press outlets. He has been quoted or interviewed by the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, CBS, MSNBC, NPR, BBC, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Al Jazeera and the Voice of America, among other media. He earned his B.A., Summa Cum Laude, at Amherst College, M.A. in Political Science from Harvard University, and J.D. from Yale Law School.


Locations, Dates and Fees

George Washington's Mount Vernon


$315 regular registration (printed materials included).
$350 regular registration (printed materials included), plus 6:00 p.m. private Mansion tour.
$385 regular registration (printed materials included), plus 6:00 p.m. private Mansion tour, plus guest for reception and tour.

$330 on-site registration (if space is available) (printed materials included).
$365 on-site registration (if space is available) (printed materials included), plus 6:00 p.m. private mansion tour.
$400 on-site (if space is available) (printed materials included), plus 6:00 p.m. private Mansion tour, plus guest for reception and tour.


Fred W. Smith National Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon / Thursday, September 29 OR Friday, September 30 (SAME PROGRAM BOTH DATES)
(Venue Website / Google Map)
3600 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway
Mount Vernon, VA
(703) 780-3600

As registration for the main room for the Thursday, September 29, program has now reached capacity, anyone now registering may attend the Friday, September 30, program and sit in the main presentation room; or if you would still like to attend on Thursday, we can reserve you a seat in an overflow room where you will see the presentation on closed circuit tv.

Participants should park in the West Parking Lot and enter through the Library pedestrian gate.

Cancellation/transfer request requests will be honored until 5:00 p.m. the day preceding the seminar.

If you have a disability that requires special accommodation, please contact Virginia CLE® well in advance of the program date.

Private recording of this program is prohibited.

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