Permanent State of Emergency: Unchecked Executive Power and the Demise of the Rule of Law

Permanent State of Emergency: Unchecked Executive Power and the Demise of the Rule of Law

by Ryan Alford
  • general-other-non-fiction
  • history-politics-current-affairs
  • legal

In the wake of the attacks of September 11, 2001, the United States launched initiatives that test the limits of international human rights law. The indefinite detention and torture of detainees at Guantánamo Bay, targeted killing, and mass surveillance require an expansion of executive authority that negates the rule of law. In Permanent State of Emergency, Ryan Alford establishes that the ongoing failure to address human rights abuses is a symptom of the most serious constitutional crisis in American history. Instead of curbing the increase in executive power, Congress and the courts facilitated the breakdown of the nation’s constitutional order and set the stage for presidential supremacy. The presidency, Alford argues, is now more than imperial: it is an elective dictatorship.

Providing both an overview and a systematic analysis of the new regime, he objectively demonstrates that it does not meet even the minimum requirements of the rule of law. At this critical juncture in American democracy, Permanent State of Emergency alerts the public to the structural transformation of the state and reiterates the importance of the constitutional limits of the American presidency.


Ryan Alford, author

Ryan Alford is assistant professor at the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law at Lakehead University.


  • Concluding that the U.S. government is now an elective dictatorship where systemic violations of basic rights can be carried out with impunity, Alford’s utterly reasonable and objective study is a compelling, important call to restore democratic balance. - Publishers Weekly

Rights Holder

Rights Holder: McGill-Queen's University Press



rights available: World

Additional Information

number of pages: 352

publication date: 05/01/2017

Original language of pub: English

Materials Available: finished book