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The President Of The United States Of America Powers And Priveleges

1874 words - 7 pages

Despite the intentions of the framers of the Constitution and the subsequent roles laid out for the president therein, the President of the United States of America has assumed roles and powers that somewhat challenge these intentions. Since the forming of the Union there has been a continuing struggle over the powers of the president and whether he should take a reserved legalist position or a more activist role.

The legalist and activist positions are embodied perhaps no more deservedly in Presidents Taft and T. Roosevelt, respectively. It was Roosevelt's position that it was not only the President's right, but duty to do "anything that the needs of the Nation demanded, unless such action was forbidden by the Constitution or by the laws" (Fisher, p. 23). Taft on the other hand maintained that the President "can exercise no power which cannot be fairly and reasonably traced to some specific grant of power or justly implied and included within such express grant as proper and necessary to its exercise. Such specific grant must either be in the Federal Constitution or in an act of Congress passed in pursuance thereof" (Fisher, p. 23). These two figures represent the dichotomy herein: the contraction of Presidential power and its opposing expansion. If Taft had had his way, the President's role today might have been more closely aligned with what the original intentions of the Constitution were: a chiefly reactionary role to the initiative position (with reference to legislation) of Congress (Egger, p. 2).

One of the main problems with regard to defining Presidential power is defining what indeed the intentions of the Constitutional framers were. The American constitution, with reference to the office of the executive, is a vague and ambiguous document. Corwin states that "Article II is the most loosely drawn chapter of the Constitution" (Corwin 1948, p. 2). The impact of such ambiguities is that considerable room for the expansion of powers are provided the President. Hirschfield states that the framers of the Constitution wanted "a central government powerful enough to maintain law and order, protect property interests, develop the nation's resources, and make America a factor in international affairs. Seeking stable, authoritative, and vigorous rule, they regarded a strong executive as essential to the achievement of their goals" (Hirschfield, p.12). Given this, it was also a priority that the office of President not be defined by any `monarchical' elements of rule - an `elected monarch' was widely held to be a worst case scenario with regard to the formation of the Union (Hirschfield, p.12). Upon reading Article II of the Constitution, it can be supposed that the President is "responsible for little more than the faithful execution of the laws that are enacted by Congress and interpreted by the Supreme Court" (Egger, p. 2). It can be seen, therefore, that while Congress may be the constitutionally dominant entity of American government,...

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