But clearly the power is not unlimited. "Executive orders are a source of law only when they draw upon the constitutional powers of the President or powers expressly delegated by Congress," Louis Fisher writes in his authoritative book, "Constitutional Conflicts Between Congress and the President" (Princeton University Press, 1985). "When executive orders lack statutory support, they have been held by the courts to be without the force and effect of law. Executive orders may not supersede a statute or override contradictory congressional expressions."
One problem with executive orders is that the courts have ruled that it is mainly Congress's responsibility to protect its own turf. If Congress acquiesces in a presidential usurpation of power without protest, the courts are inclined to let such action stand if challenged at a later date.
Not only does President Clinton not feel any shame about his impeachment (as he told Dan Rather), Clinton now feels stronger than ever, able to override the U.S. Constitution and ignore Congress. He has been exercising extraordinary new powers -- never asserted by any prior President -- both through Executive Orders (EO) and abuse of his title of Commander in Chief. Rep. Jack Metcalf (R-WA) says that Clinton has "made himself a super-legislator by issuing executive orders that require the appropriation of funds."
The term Executive Order does not appear in the Constitution. The Executive Order authority derives from the President's Article II, Section 3 power to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed." However, "laws" must mean laws that are already passed, not laws that an Executive Order purports to create. The validity of particular Executive Orders has often been questioned, but neither Congress nor the Supreme Court has ever defined the extent of their power, and courts have rarely invalidated or even reviewed EOs.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt proclaimed a national emergency and issued wide-reaching Executive Orders, notably his 1933 bank holiday and prohibition on private possession of gold, but those orders were subsequently ratified by Congress. The notorious EO 9066, under which some Japanese-Americans were interned during World War II, was subsequently upheld by the Supreme Court under FDR's war powers. In 1952, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down Harry Truman's EO 10340 to seize the nation's steel mills.
In 1996, the Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit invalidated Clinton's EO 12954, which attempted to prohibit federal agencies from doing business with companies that had permanently replaced strikers.
Clinton has issued 279 Executive Orders, but many others are not numbered. The Presidential Decision Directives (PDD) have a different sequence of numbers, and many of them are kept secret, such as the notorious PDD 25, by which Clinton presumed to give himself the power to assign U.S. troops to serve under foreign commanders and under foreign rules of engagement.
Many of the fears of the founding fathers may now be coming to fruition. Today, the executive branch of the government is immensely powerful, much more powerful than the founding fathers had envisioned or wanted. Congressional legislative powers have been usurped. There is no greater example of that usurpation than in the form of the Presidential Executive Order. The process totally by-passes Congressional legislative authority and places in the hands of the President almost unilateral power. The Executive Order governs everything from the Flag Code of the United States to the ability to single-handedly declare Martial Law. Presidents have used the Executive Order in times of emergencies to override the Constitution of the United States and the Congress.
President Andrew Jackson used executive powers to force the law-abiding Cherokee Nation off their ancestral lands. The Cherokee fought the illegal action in the U.S. Supreme Court and won. But Jackson, using the power of the Presidency, continued to order the removal of the Cherokee Nation and defied the Court's ruling. He stated, "Let the Court try to enforce their ruling." The Cherokee lost their land and commenced a series of journeys that would be called The Trail of Tears.
President Abraham Lincoln suspended many fundamental rights guaranteed in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. He closed down newspapers opposed to his war-time policies and imprisoned what many historians now call political prisoners. He suspended the right of trial and the right to be confronted by accusers. Lincoln's justification for such drastic actions was the preservation of the Union above all things. After the war and Lincoln's death, Constitutional law was restored.
In 1917, President Woodrow Wilson could not persuade Congress to arm United States vessels plying hostile German waters before the United States entered World War One. When Congress balked, Wilson invoked the policy through a Presidential Executive Order.
President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued Executive Order No. 9066 in December 1941. His order forced 100,000 Japanese residents in the United States to be rounded up and placed in concentration camps. The property of the Japanese was confiscated. Both Lincoln's and Roosevelt's actions were taken during wartime, when the very life of the United States was threatened. Wilson's action was taken on the eve of the United States entering World War One. Whether history judges these actions as just, proper or legal, the decision must be left to time. The dire life struggle associated with these actions provided plausible argumentation favoring their implementation during a time when hysteria ruled an age.
A Presidential Executive Order, whether Constitutional or not, becomes law simply by its publication in the Federal Registry. Congress is by-passed. Here are just a few Executive Orders that would suspend the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. These Executive Orders have been on record for nearly 30 years and could be enacted by the stroke of a Presidential pen: see artcle...
A series of Executive Orders, internal governmental departmental laws, unpassed by Congress, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 and the Violent Crime Control Act of 1991, has whittled down Constitutional law substantially. These new Executive Orders and Congressional Acts allow for the construction of concentration camps, suspension of rights and the ability of the President to declare Martial Law in the event of a drug crisis. Congress will have no power to prevent the Martial Law declaration and can only review the process six months after Martial Law has been declared. The most critical Executive Order was issued on August 1, 1971. Nixon signed both a proclamation and Executive Order 11615. Proclamation No. 4074 states, "I hereby declare a national emergency", thus establishing an economic crisis. That national emergency order has not been rescinded.
Here's the thing: Nothing can override the Constitution.
If I understand it correctly, Executive Orders are directives to members of the Executive Branch. Period.
The problem is, a massive deception is in place, giving us the impression that the President is "the king" and must by obeyed; that all rights, as well as privileges and licenses, come from "the federal government" and can be amended "at the pleasure of the President" as long as the President's actions can be shown to rest on something we'd tend to accept as "authority".
alot of information online about this subject....
have fun kiddies