Where Does the President’s Power Come From?


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Where Does the President’s Power Come From?



The “Imperial Presidency”

  • President’s power is always growing, never shrinking

  • Reasons:

    • President is one person – doesn’t argue with himself like Congress or the Courts


The “Imperial Presidency”

  • President’s power is always growing, never shrinking

  • Reasons:



The “Imperial Presidency”

  • President’s power is always growing, never shrinking

  • Reasons:

    • National emergencies require someone to act quickly, which only the President can do


The “Imperial Presidency”



The “Imperial Presidency”

  • President’s power is always growing, never shrinking

  • Reasons:

    • President can use mass media to attract attention like no one else in government


Types of Powers

  • Expressed Powers – clearly written, spelled out in black and white in the Constitution

    • Ex. – “The President shall be commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy of the United States” – Article II, Section 2


Types of Powers

  • Implied Powers – not written in the Constitution, but reasonably derived from expressed powers

    • Ex. - When Air Force and Marines were created, control was implied to belong to the president


Executive Powers

  • Power to Execute the Law

    • Expressed in the Oath of Office, also at the end of Article II
    • Gives him power over all federal laws passed by Congress


Executive Powers

  • The Ordinance Power

    • Implied from various other expressed powers
    • Gives him power to issue executive orders – a directive, rule, or regulation that has the effect of law


Executive Powers

  • The Appointment Power

    • Expressed in Article II, Sec. 2
    • Gives him power to appoint:
      • Ambassadors and diplomats
      • Cabinet members
      • Heads of agencies
      • Judges and U.S. Attorneys
      • Officers in the armed forces


Executive Powers

  • The Removal Power

    • Implied from President’s Appointment Power
    • Gives him power to dismiss anyone he appointed
      • But not judges!


Foreign Relations Powers

  • Power to make treaties

    • President negotiates, Senate approves with a 2/3 vote


Foreign Relations Powers

  • Power to make executive agreements

    • Like treaties, but without Senate approval


Foreign Relations Powers

  • Power of Recognition

    • Acknowledgement of legal existence of a country or government
    • Countries that recognize one another trade diplomats
    • President can kick diplomats out, declaring them persona non grata


Legislative Powers

  • Power to propose laws

    • Not really expressed or implied, he just can do it since he’s so closely watched
    • Best time to propose new laws – the State of the Union Address, where the President must inform the nation once a year of our present situation


Judicial Powers

  • Powers of Clemency – can use for anyone charged or convicted on a federal offense (not on state crimes!)

    • Reprieve – postpone a sentence
    • Pardon – forgive a crime
    • Commutation – shortening a sentence
    • Amnesty – forgiveness for a large group of lawbreakers


What Determines Whether a President is Effective or Not?

  • Richard Neustadt’s Theory of Presidential Power:

    • The power of the presidency is determined by his ability to persuade 5 “constituencies” of people


Neustadt’s 5 Constituencies

  • The Public

  • His Party

  • The Bureaucracy (Agencies)

  • Congress

  • Foreign Nations

    • Neustadt rates presidents based on how they do with each of these groups


Neustadt’s 5 Constituencies

  • The important thing in Neustadt Ratings is not how often you get what you want

  • It is how often you take steps to improve your chances of getting what you want in the future




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