Saturday, June 20, 2009

President of the United States

The President of the United States is the head of state and head of government of the United States and is the highest political official in the United States by influence and recognition. The President leads the executive branch of the federal government and is one of only two nationally-elected federal officers (the other being the Vice President of the United States).

Among other powers and responsibilities, Article II of the U.S. Constitution charges the President to "faithfully execute" federal law, makes the President commander-in-chief of the armed forces, allows the President to nominate executive and judicial officers with the advice and consent of the Senate, and allows the President to grant pardons or reprieves.

The President is elected by the people indirectly through the Electoral College to a four-year term. Since 1951, Presidents have been limited to two terms by the Twenty-second Amendment to the Constitution.

Since the adoption of the Constitution, forty-three individuals have been elected or succeeded to the office of President, serving a total of fifty-six four-year terms. As of January 20, 2009, Barack Obama is the forty-fourth President.

Roles and duties :

Article I legislative role
The first power conferred upon the President by the U.S. Constitution is the legislative power of the presidential veto. The Presentment Clause requires all bills passed by Congress to be presented to the President before they become law. Once the legislation has been presented, the President has three options:

1.Sign the legislation: the bill then becomes law.
2.Veto the legislation: the bill does not become law. The President then must return the bill to the house of Congress in which it originated, noting his objections to the legislation. Congress may override a veto by two-thirds vote of both houses.
3.Take no action. In this instance, the President neither signs nor vetoes the legislation. After 10 days, not counting Sundays, two possible outcomes emerge:
If Congress is still convened, the bill becomes law.
If Congress has adjourned, thus preventing the return of the legislation, the bill does not become law. This latter outcome is known as the pocket veto.
In 1996, Congress attempted to alter the President's veto power with the Line Item Veto Act. The legislation empowered the President to sign any spending bill into law while simultaneously striking certain spending items within the bill, particularly any new spending, any amount of discretionary spending, or any new limited tax benefit. Once the President had stricken the item, Congress could pass that particular item again. If the President then vetoed the new legislation, Congress could override the veto by its ordinary means, a two-thirds vote in both houses. The U.S. Supreme Court held such an alteration of the veto power unconstitutional in Clinton v. City of New York, 524 U.S. 417 (1998).

Article II executive powers

War and foreign affairs powers
Perhaps the most important of all presidential powers is command of the United States armed forces as commander-in-chief. While the power to declare war is constitutionally vested in Congress, the President commands and directs the military and is responsible for planning military strategy. The framers of the Constitution took care to limit the President's powers regarding the military; Alexander Hamilton explains this in Federalist No. 69:

The President is to be commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States. ... It would amount to nothing more than the supreme command and direction of the military and naval forces ... while that [the power] of the British king extends to the DECLARING of war and to the RAISING and REGULATING of fleets and armies, all [of] which ... would appertain to the legislature.

Congress, pursuant to the War Powers Resolution, must authorize any troop deployments more than 60 days in length. Additionally, Congress provides a check to presidential military power through its control over military spending and regulation.

Along with the armed forces, foreign policy is also directed by the President. Through the Department of State and the Department of Defense, the president is responsible for the protection of Americans abroad and of foreign nationals in the United States. The president decides whether to recognize new nations and new governments, and negotiates treaties with other nations, which become binding on the United States when approved by two-thirds of the Senate. The president may also negotiate "executive agreements" with foreign powers that are not subject to Senate confirmation.

Administrative powers
The President is the chief executive of the United States, putting him at the head of the executive branch of the government, whose responsibility is to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed." To carry out this duty, he is given control of the four million employees of the federal executive branch.

Various executive branch appointments are made by Presidents. Up to 6,000 appointments may be made by an incoming President before he takes office and 8,000 more may be made while in office. Ambassadors, members of the Cabinet, and other federal officers, are all appointed by the President with the "advice and consent" of a majority of the Senate. Appointments made while the Senate is in recess are temporary and expire at the end of the next session of the Senate.

The power of the President to fire executive officials has long been a contentious point of debate. Generally, the President may remove purely executive officials at his discretion. However, Congress can curtail and constrain the President's authority to fire commissioners of independent regulatory agencies and certain inferior executive officers by statute.

Juridical powers
The President also has the power to nominate federal judges, including members of the United States Courts of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court. However, these nominations do require Senate confirmation, and this can provide a major stumbling block for Presidents who wish to shape their federal judiciary in a particular ideological stance. The President must appoint judges for the United States District Courts, but he will often defer to Senatorial courtesy in making these choices. He may also grant pardons and reprieves, as is often done just before the end of a presidential term.

Executive privilege gives the President the ability to withhold information from the public, Congress, and the courts in matters of national security. George Washington first claimed privilege when Congress requested to see Chief Justice John Jay's notes from an unpopular treaty negotiation with Great Britain. While not enshrined in the Constitution, Washington's action created the precedent for privilege. When Richard Nixon tried to use executive privilege as a reason for not turning over subpoenaed evidence to Congress for the Watergate hearings, the Supreme Court ruled in United States v. Nixon that privilege did not apply in cases where a President was attempting to avoid criminal prosecution. Later President Bill Clinton lost in federal court when he tried to assert privilege in the Lewinsky scandal. The Supreme Court affirmed this in Clinton v. Jones, 520 U.S. 681 (1997), which denied the use of privilege in cases of civil suits as well.




  © Blogger template The Professional Template II by Ourblogtemplates.com 2009

Back to TOP