The Presidency and the Constitution

"The Executive Power and the Constitution, Part 2"


In the Constitution, the president is given three domestic powers: the power to execute the laws; the power to appoint executive branch officers with the advice and consent of the Senate; and the power to require written opinions from the heads of executive departments. The chief executive also has a role in the legislative process: the president holds the veto power, the power to make recommendations to Congress, the power to convene Congress, and, in the case of disagreement between the two houses of Congress, to adjourn it. The modern presidency has failed at one of its fundamental tasks—enforcing the laws passed by Congress—thereby threatening the rights of American citizens. 


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Recommended Readings

Discussion Questions

  • How does the limited number of powers given to the president reflect the Founders' view that government itself should be limited?
  • Was President Lincoln justified in suspending the writ of habeas corpus? How did he explain this emergency measure to Congress?
  • How does the modern presidency's failure to prosecute crime threaten the rights of citizens?

Q & A Session

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Thomas G. West is the Paul Ermine Potter and Dawn Tibbetts Potter Professor in Politics at Hillsdale College. He received his B.A. from Cornell University and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate University.