Review the Constitution's delegation of powers from Step One of the Cheney's Law featured lesson plan, then read the "True Believers" page of FRONTLINE's companion Web site at: www.pbs.org/frontline/cheney/themes/believers.html. Drawn from interviews for the program, it explains the attitudes, experiences and convictions driving the Bush administration's views on the Constitution and executive power. Students should summarize each interviewee's views and decide whose position is most in line with their own.
For another viewpoint, students can read an interview with former Deputy Assistant Attorney General John Yoo, who devised many of the administration's controversial legal policies, on the Web site for FRONTLINE's May 2007 film Spying on the Home Front at: http://www.pbs.org/frontline/homefront/interviews/yoo.html. Students should consider whether they agree with Yoo's arguments about the balance of powers during wartime.
Presidential Power in Times of Crisis - A History
Expanding the power of the executive branch during times of crisis is not new. Claiming powers "inherent" to the Constitution, presidents have taken expeditious action to address many crises facing the nation. Have students construct a presentation on the history of such actions by reviewing articles such as, "Who Can Check the President?" and "Stretching Executive Power" or other sources from the Internet and library. Be sure the students' reports include background information on the featured president, the crisis he faced, reaction by Congress or the public, and the resolution of any confrontation between the branches or the public.
Developing Your Own "Themes and Analysis" Feature
On its Web site, FRONTLINE regularly features a "Themes and Analysis" section drawing from interviews conducted for the film. (See Themes & Analysis from Cheney's Law at: www.pbs.org/frontline/cheney/themes/.) Students can create their own themes from the program or the lesson activities. Suggested themes include: the balance of power among the branches, the impact of 9/11 and the War on Terror, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and actions of Congress. Students can construct their Themes & Analysis as a Web page, PowerPoint, or other kind of presentation. Extended interviews from the film can be found at: http://www.pbs.org/frontline/cheney/interviews.