Monday, June 18, 2012

Presidential Powers

Power in the American presidency depends on the type of leader in office, how much leadership qualities one displays, the nature of experience, and how existing knowledge is displayed during tenure of office. Moe and Howell (1999) are of the opinion that the power of the United States president has grown to a higher degree as can be seen from how the top leadership in the nation applies the use of unilateral power and the power to initiate new laws. Despite Congress playing a great role in shaping presidential power, the party the president hails from and the party that dominate the two Houses can affect governance and decision making matters in the administration of the United States. However, challenges do exist-challenges that curb the powers of the president-and this depends on the political thoughts of the presidency and the amalgamation of Congressional leaders. In modern times, the proliferation of assortments of ideological foundations inherent within decision making leaders has had adverse effects on the American presidency. Two tangible tasks espoused by an American president include the veto power and the power to make appointments. Through the use of the executive order, American presidents have the power to make laws (Deering & Maltzman, 1999). Also known as presidential legislation, the executive order is a tool applied by a president in the case of an opposition congress playing games contrary to presidential rules and regulations.

According to Cooper and West (1988), in the last few decades, the American governing system has undergone dramatic changes notably with the rise of presidential power and the decline in Congressional power. Institutionally, the American presidency was not created to be political, but in essence, foundationally formulated to incline to the managerial role and thus was to remain objective in general context (Cooper & West, 1988). Power wrangling or fight for supremacy, has been evident in the past between the Presidency and the Supreme Court, at times resulting in political miscalculations. In Boumediene v. Bush, the Supreme Court claimed that neither the President nor Congress had power over the legal execution of matters pertaining to Guantanamo Bay detainees (Devins, 2009). This incident happened at a time when presidential hopefuls Barack Obama and John McCain were passionately appealing for the closure of the much debated Guantanamo Bay Prison. Despite Bush vacating the presidency without fulfilling his dream of closing Guantanamo Bay Prison, to this day, tensions do exist between the Presidency, the Congress, and the Supreme Court over how to handle the Prison. In the meantime, the power of the U.S. President seems to be on the rise despite opposition from the Judiciary and the Legislature.


Moe, T.M. & Howell, G.W. (). The presidential power of unilateral action. JLEO, V15 N1, 132. Oxford University Press.

Deering, CJ. & Maltzman, F. (1999). The politics of executive orders: Legislative constraints on presidential power. Political research quarterly, VOL. 52, No. 4 (Dec., 1999), 767-783.

Cooper, J. & West, W.F. (1988). Presidential power and Republican government: The theory and practice of OMB review of agency rules. The journal of politics, Vol. 50, No. 4 (Nov., 1988), pp. 864-895.

Gevins, N. (2009). Talk loudly and carry a small stick: The Supreme Court and enemy combatants (2010). Faculty Publications. Paper 33. 

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