Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Constraints on Presidential Powers
By Adan Makina, PhD Student

In order to put usurpation of power to rest, there is a need for containing the powers of the president of the United States. Undoubtedly, the president of the United States is a very powerful person and perhaps the most powerful person in the world (Rosenbloom, Kravchuk & Clerkin, 2009). Despite the existence of separation of powers enshrined in the Constitution, still, there is the need to cart off some powers from the president. A president is like any other ordinary citizen whose position of power comes from the people that elected him to the highest office in the land. Thus, it is unconstitutional for presidents to use the powers vested on them as a tool to intimidate world citizens. The use of unilateral executive powers has been the cause many of political mistakes undertaken by past American presidents. George W. Bush went to war unilaterally against the wishes of the international community; Bill Clinton’s administration failed to bring about changes to the federal administration, Jimmy Carter was unsuccessful in his attempts to restructure the federal personnel, and Ronald Reagan left the budget deficit in tatters (Rosenbloom, Kravchuk & Clerkin, 2009).  

A president who causes political plunders in his or her second term in office must not be allowed to return as doing so would plunge the nation into further unnecessary societal decline and political upheaval. A major power espoused by the Commander-in-Chief who is also president of the U.S., is the allocation of war power even though it is also enshrined in the constitution that power is granted to Congress to declare war (King & Leavens, 1997). Another important factor worth noting is attempts by presidents to interfere with judicial powers and constitutional meanings granted to the judiciary (Johnsen, 2003). To avoid judicial activism that was visible at the time of Rehnquist’s supremacy, the Reagan Administration imposed broad measures that put a cap on interpretations that were inconsistent with Reagan’s version of judicial laws. Presidents have the power to make political appointees that last up to the end of their presidency. These are thousands of appointees selected by the president to drive his political agendas. It would be prudent to allow another independent office to take over the appointment of the thousands of appointees and make them permanent employees so as to serve the greater interest of the nation.


Johnsen, D.E. (2003). Ronald Reagan and the Rehnquist Court on Congressional
            Power: Presidential Influences on Constitutional Change. Indiana Law Journal: Vol. 78: Iss. 1, Article 10.

King, D.E. & Leavens, A. (1997). Curbing the Dog of War: The War Powers Resolution. Western New England University School of Law. 18 Harv., Int'l L.J. 55.

Rosenbloom, D.R., Kravchuk, R.S., & Clerkin, R,M. (2008). Public Administration: Understanding Management, Politics, and Law in the Public Sector. New York: McGraw-Hill.

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