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A constitution comprises of a set of principles and rules which are established by a country or an organization for purposes of governance. Most countries have adopted a constitution that dictates how such country should be governed. Constitutions are designed to protect the rights of people they govern. They also define the roles played by the offices created by constitution. Such may include the executive, judiciary and legislature (Thomas, 2008). This paper seeks to argue that the United States Constitution limits the presidential powers, and thus governing presidents should act in the best interest of the public.
According to Dye, Schubert and Zeigler (2009), the presidency is “the popular symbol of governmental authority” (p. 242). Therefore, the president is the chief administrator or the chief executive of a given country. In most counties, the presidency is a constitutional office with a specific term and a specific procedure for electing the president (Krent, 2005). In the US, the office of the president is a constitutional office that is presided over by a president elect with a four years term. Section 1 of Article II of the US Constitution vests executive powers of the presidency to the elect president (U.S. Constitution Online, 2011).
As per Section 2 of Article II of the US Constitution, the president is granted the powers such as the commander in chief of the armed forces. The president is also accorded the powers to seek opinions from officers in the service. Further, the president through the consent of Congress has been given the powers to join treaties and appoint public servants such as ambassadors and ministers. Within this section, the president is also allowed to appoint officers during recess. Section 3 of Article II expounds on the role of the president in Congress and his powers to convene and adjourn Congress. It is also in Section 3where the president is expected to ensure that the laws provided for in the Constitution are executed to the letter. Section 4 grants the removal of the president on account of impeachment, treason and any high profile criminal acts. All these sections provide for limited presidential powers (U.S. Constitution Online, 2011).
In view of the two quotes, William Howard Taft’s quote calls for the need of the presidents to act within the constitutional provisions in their call of duty. This quote is in line with the US Constitution. This is supported by the fact that Section 1 of Article II provides that the elected president takes an oath of office. The oath stipulates the expected intent of the presidential office which is to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States” (U.S. Constitution Online, 2011). This therefore signifies that if the purpose of the president is to uphold the Constitution, then, the president is also governed by the same Constitution that he seeks to protect. Therefore, his conduct in the presidential office should be within his constitutional mandate (Krent, 2005).
Further, the US Constitution provides limited powers to the president. This is evident in Section 2 which seeks to ensure that the conduct of the president, through his appointments is checked and moderated by Congress (Krent, 2005; U.S. Constitution Online, 2011). His/her actions through formulation and implementation of policies are also checked and approved by Congress, and thus, reduce the tendency of the president to exercise broadened executive powers as is advocated for by William Howard Taft’s quote.
Article III of the US Constitution grants the judiciary powers to keep the executive and legislature in check. According to Dye et al., (2009), the president is liable to judicial scrutiny because he/she is not above the law. Therefore, the US Constitution provides for the courts to reverse any presidential actions that are not in accordance with the Constitution, or are in conflict with the provisions of the Constitution and Congress (Krent, 2005).