Only time will tell whether it was prudent for President Trump to authorize the killing of Qassim Soleimani. But we don’t need to wait to recognize that the constitutional design for the executive branch has failed us. As I have observed before before, no person should possess the sole power to make these kinds of decisions.

While the constitutional framers believed that the country would be better served by a single executive, they misjudged the differences between single decision makers and multiple decision makers. There is much truth to the maxim that two heads are better than one. Over the past two hun­dred years, our understanding of decision making has evolved. Stud­ies by economists, psychologists, and other researchers demonstrate that shared decision making works well and indeed better than uni­lateral decision making. As the example of George W. Bush waging war against Iraq illustrates, a single decision maker can make very poor choices.

We have never been able to solve the problem of presidential power by changing our presidents. Even the best presidents make mistakes that reflect the inevitable limitations of seeing issues from one’s own perspective. We will only fix the presidency by redesigning it. Switzerland provides an impressive model with its executive branch. The Swiss require the major parties to share the executive power and make decisions by consensus. That ensures better decisions. It also provides fairer representation for the public in its government.

Photo of David Orentlicher David Orentlicher

David Orentlicher is the Cobeaga Law Firm Professor of Law at UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law. Nationally recognized for his expertise in constitutional law and health law, Dr. O has testified before Congress, had his scholarship cited by the U.S. Supreme…

David Orentlicher is the Cobeaga Law Firm Professor of Law at UNLV William S. Boyd School of Law. Nationally recognized for his expertise in constitutional law and health law, Dr. O has testified before Congress, had his scholarship cited by the U.S. Supreme Court, and has served on many national, state, and local commissions.

A graduate of Harvard Medical School and Harvard Law School, Dr. O is author of numerous books, articles, and essays on a wide range of topics, including presidential power, affirmative action, health care reform, physician aid in dying, and reproductive decisions. Dr. O’s work has appeared in leading professional journals, as well as in the New York TimesTimeUSA TodayCNN Opinion, the Chicago Tribune, and other major newspapers.

Between 2002 and 2008, Dr. O served in the Indiana House of Representatives, where he authored legislation to promote job creation, protect children from abuse and neglect, and make health care coverage more affordable. His most recent book, Two Presidents Are Better Than One: The Case for a Bipartisan Executive, draws on his experience with partisan conflict as an elected official and his expertise in constitutional law to discuss reforms that would address the country’s high levels of political polarization.