The President is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces of the United States. He also has the power to grant pardons and reprieves to various offenders in the United States. Exception, however, comes in case of impeachment. Although the president serves as commander-in-chief, he does not possess the authority to declare war. This authority vests upon the Congress. The president gets power from the Constitution to make treaties. To do this, however, two thirds of the Senate must agree with him. With advice and consent from the Senate, the President’s hall also appoints public ministers, ambassadors, consuls, Supreme Court judges, as well as other United States officers, as it is stated by the law.
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The Congress can, however, abrogate a treaty, as the case in 1798, when a treaty with France became terminated by the United State Congress. In 1854, the Senate, under the leadership of President Franklin Pierce, terminated a treaty after getting authorized by the Senate alone. In this regard, a U.S treaty with Denmark became terminated. Franklin Pierce’s successors, however, returned to the old procedure of obtaining authorization from both the Senate and the Congress. Some other presidents take it upon themselves to terminate treaties. For example, Abraham Lincoln terminated a treaty without the approval of Congress, but it later approved the President’s decision.
At times, presidents give themselves the power to remove individuals without the approval of the Congress. The Congress, however, limits the power of the President to remove a person from the office. The Tenure of Office Act became passed, by Congress, to prevent President Andrew Johnson from removing a person, appointed with the consent and advice of the Senate, from office. The President decided to ignore the act. He later became acquitted. In the case of Myers vs. United States (1926), the Supreme Court ruled that the Congress should have no authority to tell the President not to get an officer out of office. In a different case, Humphrey’s Executor vs. United States (1935), the Supreme Court agreed that the President could remove an officer (Federal Trade Commission officers) from office.
The President has the power to fill all the vacant positions that may arise during Senate recess. He does this by making commissions, which expire at the end of the following session. During Senate recess, the President can appoint officers whose commissions expire when the Senate’s next session concludes. For instance, George W. Bush appointed UN ambassador, John Bolton, in the year 2005.
Scope of Presidential Authority
In the case of United States vs. Curtiss-Wright Export Corporation (1936), the Supreme Court ruled that the powers of the federal government did not depend upon the powers of the Constitution. The argument here was that the origin of the powers seems to be extra constitution. These powers belonged to the President since they are plenary and inherent. The ruling of the Supreme Court forbade the sale of war materials to those who engaged in conflict. The aim was to promote peace between Paraguay and Bolivia. This decision is yet to be qualified judicially.
As seen earlier, the Constitution of the United States gives the President power to enter into treaties so long as two thirds of the Senate backs him. The question here is whether the chief executive can bypass approval of the Senate while entering into a treaty. In the case of United States vs. Belmont (1937), the court affirmed that its opinion rested upon the President’s power to have recognition of the foreign nations. President Roosevelt recognized and accepted Soviet debt property located in the US, by the Russian citizens, without the approval of the Senate. Such decisions led to the proposal of Bricker Amendment, which failed by one vote when taken to the Senate for approval. The act would provide that international agreement and not a treaty should become effective only with an act of Congress. There were several forces behind this amendment that made the Supreme Court soften its language but not its decisions. In the case of Dames vs. Regan (1981), the Supreme Court upheld Jimmy Carter’s agreement with Iran regarding Iranian assets and American hostages. It emphasized that the decision was a narrow one, but made it clear that the congress was not resisting the president’s authority.
In the case of Goldwater vs. Carter (1979), the issue became raised on whether the President would terminate a treaty even without the approval of the senate, or the congress. The court of appeal ruled in favor of Carter, the President of the United States by then. In this case, the President had terminated a treaty with Taiwan. On the other hand, the Supreme Court did not decide on merit, but it dismissed the case leading to the victory of President Carter. The current United States President, Barrack Obama, also makes some decisions without consulting the Congress.
The Constitution defines powers and duties of the President. For instance, the President has the power to dispatch the armed forces, to maintain order or to end the rebellion if he finds it necessary. In case questions arise on the powers of the President, the Supreme Court must, according to the law, interpret and answer such questions. Such decisions and interpretations by the court help in updating the Constitution. The interpretations also add substance to the government, which has been established by the Constitution. The Constitution also limits the powers of government officials including the President, Congress members, and the judges of the Supreme Court. The aim here is to protect people’s liberties (Hula, 2011).
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