Constitutional Powers of the Presidency

The United States presidency is considered one of the most commanding offices around the world. The agencies and departments that obtain political directives from the president and cabinet-level divisions comprise the executive division of the national government.  The constitution stipulates that the president’s role is to ensure that the laws are faithfully executed. In order to execute this duty, he supervises over the executive division of the national government; an enormous organization numbering nearly four million people, including an estimated one million military personnel in active duty (Clark p.1). In addition to overseeing the legislative branch, the president possesses important judicial and legislative powers. Contemporary presidents have greater authority compared to their predecessor due to the expansion of the executive division over the decades to assume on more responsibilities and tasks. Predominantly, however, the authority of the president at any given period has relied on the current president’s leadership skills, specific crises and events facing the president and the nation’s resistance to, desire for, powerful executive branch. Though the presidency does possess specific constitutional power, the chief authority of every leader is his capability to convince others particularly those in Congress to support recommendations.

Functions of the Presidency

Academic anxiety?
Get original paper in 3 hours and nail the task
Get your paper price

124 experts online

Generally, how a presidency functions is also principally grounded on the feeling of the public and Congress which is established by the predecessor and the prevailing conditions in the country. In periods of relative calm and tranquility, Congress is normally most authoritative. They can assume a longer standpoint and address matters that will impact future generations. Their elaborate body is most suited for such a situation. In periods of crisis, such as a war or falling economy, the decisiveness and responsiveness of the office becomes crucial. During crisis, presidential authority is habitually greatly extended. Abraham Lincoln, George Bush, Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin Roosevelt all incorporated sweeping authorities to the leadership to address economic crisis and wars such as the war on terrorism and the Great Depression (West p.28). During the period of Great depression, Roosevelt established novel initiatives to assuage widespread unemployment and poverty. Most of these initiatives neared socialism such as the WPA which established federal employment for workers. President Bush, in 2008, largely assumed control of the declining economy, ordering the Federal Bank to provide huge credits and the Treasury Department to buy stakes in failing giant corporations (Clark p.1).

Powers of Legislation

Notwithstanding the constitutional stipulation that all powers of legislation lies with the Senate, as the key designer of public policies, the U.S president plays in integral legislative role. The leader can reject any legislation enacted by Congress, and if sixty six percent of the affiliates of every house vote to supersede the rejection, the bill doesn’t become law (Clark p.1). The president tempers with other branches of the government. The president is vested with the power to veto bills (Monk p.1). This is the capacity to reject to sign bills into laws. One a bill is vetoed by the president, Congress may overrule the veto. Sometimes, a threat from the president to veto the bill is sufficient to send the legislative body back to step one to design conciliations that are likely to be passed by the president (Tocqueville p.22). Some leaders utilized their power of veto more compared to others. Glover Cleveland and Franklin Roosevelt occupy top positions with five hundred and eighty four and six hundred and thirty five vetoes, respectively (Clark p.1).  President Andrew Jackson holds the least vetoes of a president with twelve.

 Most of the bills handled by Senate are designed at the proposal of the administrative division. During his special and annual messages to Senate, the leader may recommend a piece of legislation which he believes could be necessary. If congress adjourns without having acted on those recommendations, the leader possesses the authority to call Congress into extraordinary session.  But away from this official duty, as a political party leader and as chief executive official of the government, the president as capable of influencing public judgment and by this means to shape the path of legislation in Congress. To enhance their working relations with Senate, in recent times presidents have established a Congressional Liaison Office in their office or White House. Aides to the president keep shoulder to shoulder of all significant legislative operations and attempt to influence representatives and senators of both associations to provide support for administrative policies.

Executive Powers

Within the executive division itself, the U.S president has extensive powers to oversee national matters and the functioning of the national government. The president has the authority to issue regulations, instructions and rules known as executive orders, which are enforceable upon government departments and federal agencies but don’t require approval from the Congress. The president is also the commander-in-chief of the United States armed forces with the authority to call the state agencies of the National Guard into national service (Cooley p.12). During national emergency or war times, the Congress may endow the president with broader authority to administrate the country’s economy and safeguard the safety of America. The president also has the power to nominate while the Congress confirms the leaders of every executive agencies and departments, along with numerous distinguished federal officials. Most of the federal employees, nonetheless, are chosen via the system of Civil Service, in which hiring as well as promotion is solely based on experience and ability.

Under the directions of the president, America can execute retaliatory attacks such as the Afghanistan invasion in 2001 (Clark p.1). The constitution accords Congress the authority to announce war but the president is charged with executing the war as commander in chief. Similar other authorities, the president’s capacity to operate and wage war have changed over time. Probably no other leader defined powers of the president during wartime like Lincoln (Whiting p.13). In the year 1861, Even as Congress was postponed, he triggered the armed forces, sent forces to southern regions, required the Navy to barricade the New Orleans’s port and allocated finances from the department of treasury (Clark p.1). Lincoln’s acts were unprecedented and vast, although the executive possesses enormous power during crisis. Leaders following Lincoln’s pattern have discovered how to maneuver around Congress to start wars. The most commonly observed actions have been orders issued by the executive.

Judicial Powers

Amongst the President’s legitimate authorities is that of assigning key public officials (U.S. Department of State p.1). Presidential recommendation of federal panel of judges, including Supreme Court affiliates is subjected to Senate’s confirmation. Another important authority is that of giving conditional or full pardon to any person convicted of criminal acts under the federal law except in an instance of impeachment. The power of pardon has lately embraced the authority to reduce fines and cut down prison terms (Whiting p.18). The power of the president also extends to judiciary with the power of pardon. Through pardoning power, the president can fundamentally override a conviction against a group of individuals or an individual who has been sentenced in courts. President Kennedy was capable of overruling both the Congress and the judicial branch with a sole pardon. President Kennedy pardoned Americans who had been sentenced under the narcotic law which he viewed as an unwarranted law (Shane p.18). Abraham Lincoln illustrated the influence and power of the presidency on a range unimagined by many presidents in the 20th century, and Andrew Jackson demonstrated that an authoritative contemporary presidency was achievable, even essential, in the milieu of a restricted government (Freudenberg P.1).

Authority in foreign Matters

The U.S leadership is founded on traditions established by previous presidents. President Washington put in place the role of the president as the head of the country in foreign matters and put in place the custom of negotiating agreements with other countries with no prior consent of Congress. As a result, treaties confirmation now comes following the negotiations. When President Reagan assumed power, his first precedence was to proceed with the battle on substances announced by Nixon (Clark p.1). He increased funding for agencies dealing with drug enforcement and mustered Congress to establish a legislation that lengthened sentences for arrested offenders. Establishing treaties is a legitimate authority given to the president and Washington coagulated the president’s power in bargaining with other nations (Henkin p.290). Washington created the usage of agreements, leaving Congress to confirm them. On the other hand, if a leader deems a treaty not to be in the nation’s best interest, the conviction rests solely on the president as observed in President Clinton’s verdict not to ratify the Kyoto Treaty (Clark p.1).

Federal Administrator

Under the United States constitution, the president is also the federal administrator primarily liable for the relationship of America with overseas countries. In other words he is the lead ambassador for the nation. The president assigns ministers, consuls and ambassadors, but has to be supported by the Senate, and hosts foreign ambassadors including other public administrators (U.S. Department of State p.1). The president is answerable for visiting leaders to press forward United States policies and to sustain good relations overseas. With the help of state’s secretary, the president administrates all administrative contacts with governments in foreign nations. Occasionally, the president can individually participate in conferences where heads of state converge for consultation. Consequently, President Wilson led the United Stated delegation to a conference in Paris following World War one; President Roosevelt assembled with friendly heads during the Second World War and all leaders since then have met with world heads to debate political and economical matters and to make multilateral and bilateral accords(Clark p.1).  Through the State Department, the president is liable for the safety of Americans overseas and of nationals from foreign countries living in America. Much of how America decides to respond to international issues has been modeled by various presidential decisions. The America policy of heading the Western world established by Monroe was extended by Roosevelt consequence that permitted the U.S. to intercede in the dealings of other Americans. The Truman principle made America in actual fact the monitor of the globe, and the Bush principle of preemptive battle gives the U.S. permission to attack unprovoked against overseas countries it views as a security threat.

Interaction with other Branches

            Presidential authority and restrictions also surface from the interaction between other branches of the government and the president. A president may build a play for additional authority into unexploited territories, not considering whether the act is struck down or upheld, a standard has been established and the role of the president molded afresh. Thomas Jefferson bought the Louisiana region from France devoid of Congressional approval (Clark p.1). President Bush’s domestic undercover work provided protection to telecommunication firms which had illegitimately given their client’s data to the administration. In such instances, the president utilized his position to take an action, and Congress repeatedly falls into place after the verity. The direction may also turn around.  Congress viewed President Nixon as misusing a long-standing power of the president to confiscate finances meant for programs and laws. Formerly, presidents had the power to hold finances for administrative purposes, like accounting mistakes that needed rectification. President Nixon utilized the impound authority to barricade legislations which he had previously rejected but Congress had overruled from being passed (Clark p.1). In rejoinder, Congress enacted the Budget and Impoundment Act which revoked the presidential authority to impound appropriations.

Limitations on the Powers of the Presidency

Due to the immense collection of presidential responsibilities and roles, together with an eye-catching attendance on the international and national scene, analysts of political issues have placed great stress on powers of the president. Many have termed the powers as a form of imperial presidency pointing to the extended role of the president’s office that Roosevelt sustained throughout his term. The sobering facts a fresh leader learns is a hereditary bureaucratic organization that may be hard to administrate and sluggish to redirect. The power of the president to assign extends barely to some three thousand individuals out of a government labor force of approximately three million (Clark p.1). The president discovers that the government machinery frequently operates autonomously of presidential directions, has accomplished so in previous governments, and will continually do so even in the near future.

Despite these limitations, every leader attains several of his legislative objectives and circumvents by veto the passing of other legislations he deems to be inappropriate in the best interest of the nation. The president’s power in the demeanor of peace and war, including conciliation of agreements, is substantial. In addition, the president is capable of using his unique standing to advocate policies and articulate ideas, which then possess an improved probability to enter the consciousness of the public compared to those proposed by political challengers. President Roosevelt termed this feature of the leadership ‘the bully pulpit’ because when a leader brings a particular issue to light, it undoubtedly becomes a subject of public discussion (Clark p.1). A president’s influence and authority may be restricted, but they are powerful compared to those of other citizens whether out of or in office. Andrew Jackson and Thomas Jefferson established the role of the president as the leader of his political party.


Throughout United States history, every president has had constitutional authority vested upon him but today’s presidents are more authoritative compared to their predecessors. The power bestowed by the U.S. constitution aren’t the full scope of a leader’s powers, rather the authority is derived by the president’s capacity to persuade and influence public judgment and by this means shape the path of the nation. Strictly speaking, both historical and contemporary events within and beyond president’s command have made it difficult or easier for a leader to extend his powers. Generally, how a specific presidency functions is predominantly based on the feeling of the public and Congress which is established by earlier predecessors as well as the existing conditions in the country. During peaceful periods, Congress is normally most authoritative. This is because Congress can take a broader view and deal with matters that will impact future generations. In periods of crisis, such as a war or the current economic recession, the decisiveness and responsiveness of the office becomes crucial.

Works Cited

Clark, Josh. How the U.S. President Works. 1998. 24 July 2009.


Cooley, Thomas M. General Principles of the Constitutional Law in the United States of

America. Bufflo, NY: Fred B Rothman & Co, 1981.

Freudenberg, John. Why is some presidents More Powerful than Others. Sept. 29,

2006. July 24, 2009.


Henkin, Louis. Foreign Affairs and the Constitution. Foreign Affairs, 66.2 (1987): 284-


Monk, Linda. The Words We Live By. 2005. 24 July 2009.

<, %20The%20Words%20We%20Live%20By%20(I).htm#the%20President>

Shane, Peter M. Madison’s Nightmare: How Executive Power Threatens American

Democracy. Chicago: University Of Chicago Press, 2009.

Tocqueville, Alexis De. Democracy in America. Chicago: University Of Chicago Press,


U.S. Department of State. The Executive Branch: Powers of the Presidency. n.d. 24 July



Whiting, William. War Powers under the Constitution of the United States: Military

Arrests, Reconstruction and Military Government (1871). New York: Kessinger Publishing, Llc, 2008

West, Thomson. United States Code Annotated: Constitution of the United States

Annotated Article 1, sec. 10. Clause 1 to Article 3. sec. 2, clause 1. Mason, Ohio: Thomson West, 2004.


This essay was written by a fellow student. You may use it as a guide or sample for writing your own paper, but remember to cite it correctly. Don’t submit it as your own as it will be considered plagiarism.

Need a custom essay sample written specially to meet your requirements?

Choose skilled expert on your subject and get original paper with free plagiarism report

Order custom paper Without paying upfront

Constitutional Powers of the Presidency. (2016, Aug 25). Retrieved from