About 15,000 executive orders were signed by different presidents from 1789 to Trump’s current presidency. With a total of 3,721 executive orders, President Franklin Roosevelt led the party, followed by President Woodrow Wilson at 1,803 and, last, President Calvin Coolidge, who signed 1,203 executive orders. For recent presidents, 364, 291, and 276 executive orders were signed by Bill Clinton, George Bush, and Barack Obama, respectively. Executive Orders are typically legally binding directives given to the Federal Administrative Agencies by the President, who is the head of the Executive Branch. Such orders are aimed at ordering the federal bodies and their staffs or officials on how to execute the congressionally provided laws or various policies (Lord 85).
Reasons why the Authors of the United States Constitution Gave Presidents the Power to Issue Executive Orders
The constitutional empowerment of the President to issue executive orders emanates from the Article II, Section 1 of the American Constitution which assigns the President the executive Power. According to Section 3 of Article II, the Constitution orders the President to ensure that the Laws are faithfully implemented. The Constitution orders the president to effect the laws outlined by the Constitution and offer direction and guidance to the Executive segment agencies and departments through the use of the Executive Orders. The Сonstitution does demand the President to seek congressional approval while issuing executive Orders. Furthermore, the orders have similar legal weight as the enactments passed by the Congress (Mayer 67). The vagueness of the Constitution in respect of the nature of Executive Orders the President can issue has constantly placed the presidency in close controversy with the public, Congress, and many other groups of people.
The writers of the Constitution did not intend to create a king who could make any decision without involving others. They only gave the President some avenues to offer guidance, especially in cases whereby law was not clear on what direction should be undertaken. Naturally, laws continually change, and mature democracies have considerably sufficient laws to address emerging changes in the society. The President normally has some avenue on how to act on some essential laws without involving the Congress. Regularly, the Executive Orders are issued due to necessity since the Congress cannot perpetually or instantly create every minute policy decision. Therefore, the Congress delegates the power to the President.
How the Congress and the Judicial Branch Limit These Orders?
The Congress and the judiciary have been instrumental in limiting the influence of presidential Executive Orders. The Congress has multiple powers to determine the impacts of the various Executive Orders. When the Congress feels displeased with the actions of the executive branch it usually has two major options. The first approach of the Congress is to rewrite or amend an earlier law, or even outline more vividly and in detail how the Executive Branch should operate. The law allows the President to veto the bill in case he disagrees with it. Normally, a 2/3 majority is normally required to prevail an Executive Order (Lord 45).
Customarily, Congress has been less concerned in challenging the Executive Orders touching on the foreign programs, national security, the execution and negotiation of treaties, since these powers are normally provided to the President by the Constitution. The Constitution acknowledges the President as the Commander-in-Chief of the armed forces, and he or she is regarded as the countrys principal Diplomat. Quite occasionally, most of the Executive Orders touching on the national security or the defense are not made public (Gerhard & John 1).
Apart from the congressional route, Executive Orders are challengeable in courts if they depart from expected congressional intention or if it surpasses the President’s constitutional powers. For example, President Harry Truman was found to have overstepped his presidential mandate by the Supreme Court. Following the World War II, Truman captured the control of steel mills all over the nation with the aim of settling labor disputes. The Supreme Court ruled that governments control of the privately owned steel mill businesses was unlawful and went beyond the presidential powers since there was no statute or the Constitutional law which permitted that. Over long period, the courts have been reasonably lenient over a wide range of executive orders delivered in the past.
Lord, Clifford L. Presidential Executive Orders: Numbered Series (1862-1938). Wilmington, Del: Michael Glazier, Inc, 1981.
Mayer, Kenneth R. With the Stroke of a Pen: Executive Orders and Presidential Power. Princeton (N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2002.
Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, “Executive Orders.” The American Presidency Project. Ed. John T. Woolley and Gerhard Peters. Santa Barbara, CA. 1999-2017. Available from the World Wide Web: http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/data/orders.php. Accessed 20 Oct. 2017.