Sunday, April 17, 2011

The Executive Order

Many believe, falsely, that the President of the United States is ‘the most powerful man in the world’.  He represents the most power nation in the world, and therefore, must be the most powerful man in the word!  That we may be the most powerful nation in the world has its truths, but to suppose that because the President is the leader of the United States, he too, is just as powerful is a misnomer.

Our Constitution outlines the framework of how our government works.  In it are the ‘job descriptions’ of each of the three parts of the governmental framework to which we adhere to religiously… or should adhere to religiously.  This adherence is not almost indelible; on occasion, some have crossed the shady areas and violated ethnics to change how a certain thing is implemented.  Nothing is perfect, and checks and balances are the glue that holds the government together when violations occur.

As a Constitutional scholar, no one knows this better than our current President… Barack Obama.  His slow, yet methodical manner, of dealing with the confrontations facing the nation and his presidency are misinterpreted by two groups of individuals – those who want fixes yesterday and cite him as being weak, and those who want to usurp and contradict him at every turn.  

However, in review, the President does have a slight edge of dominance.  He can mandate his agenda by vetoing any legislation that does not conform to the direction in which he wants to take the country.  It is up to his opposition to garner the support to overturn his veto by a two-thirds vote, something that can occur, but with great difficulty.

The President also has the ways and means to circumvent Legislative and the Judicial branches with impunity.  I speak to a little understood tool called the ‘executive order’…  

Executive Orders do not require Congressional approval to take effect but they have the same legal weight as laws passed by Congress. The President's source of authority to issue Executive Orders can be found in the Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution which grants to the President the "Executive Power." Section 3 of Article II further directs the President to "take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed." To implement or execute the laws of the land, Presidents give direction and guidance to Executive Branch agencies and departments, often in the form of Executive Orders.

The one drawback to an Executive Order is its longevity… there is no permanence to executive orders if they are challenged and over-ruled by the other two branches of government.  Congress can rewrite, or amend an executive order; the Judicial branch can rescind a executive order by declaring it unconstitutional.  Truman’s attempt to control the labor unions shortly after WWII was defeated by the Supreme Court.  Ronald Reagan’s actions to strip the Air Controller’s of a union were all but ignored… essentially because those in a position to challenge each President will - or will not do so!

In summary, any resolution of current issues such as DADT will not be settled by the issuing of an ‘executive order’.  This President is electing to confront such matters by using the Constitution and a sympathetic Congress to address the issues… I happen to think that the President is taking the most assured path for permanence!

Few have maintained a level-head under the duress being experienced by this President - I commend him for his fortitude and wisdom under pressure!

In a democracy, silence is not golden; it is condonance in the face of injustices; it is fear, where the thought of reprisal fosters control – Rodney A. Davis

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