In a Representative Democracy such as the United States, most people are familiar with what a law is, many people know how a bill differs from a law, but most probably do not understand what an Executive Order is.  Surely a week does not pass that it is not reported someplace that the President of the United States either signed an Executive Order to put into place a new policy or to rescind a previous one.  The situation can be confusing because the President of the United States is generally not understood to be someone who makes law.

The President of the United States is the head of the Executive Branch and he or she has some explicit powers and some gray ones.  The president can, for example, lead the country in making decisions regarding foreign affairs, nominate individuals for the Supreme Court, or in the role as “commander-in-chief ” lead the military.  But the president’s authority is not absolute as any treaty he or she negotiates with a foreign power must still be approved by Congress, nominees to the Supreme Court must be confirmed by the Senate, and any troop deployments over 60 days must be authorized by Congress due to the War Powers Resolution.  So, while the power of the president seems great it is, like virtually every other area of the U.S. government, subject to checks and balances.  One area in which the president can have a great deal of power is in the area of the Executive Order.

Click to continue reading “Executive Orders and the Law”

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Inside Government is a team of bloggers dedicated to explaining how our government works.  This site is in development.  We hope to have it fully up and running soon, but expect new posts shortly after Election Day.

-Matthew S. Urdan

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