Presidential Powers


The complexity, powerful and the vast nature of the American societyrequire a powerful president to promote the desired interests of theUnited States (Kmiec, 2009). In view of the interests of the country,the current presidents are powerful. United States presidents are toopowerful because they are regarded as the leaders of the “freeworld”. They dictate the policies to be adopted by virtually allcountries in the world. Despite the need to maintain a balance in allthe arms of the government, the presidency has wielded a lot of powerover the years (Kmiec, 2009). The judiciary and the congress haveoften clashed with the executive concerning the legality and theexpansionist nature of the executive power.

Since the era of Abraham Lincoln, subsequent presidents haveadvocated a strong executive such as Theodore Roosevelt, WilsonWoodrow and Frank Roosevelt (Cooper, 2002). They all have utilizedtheir tenures as presidents to amass a lot of power for the executivebranch of government. The most recent presidents like Bush and Obamahave used executive powers to carry out bold decisions for thecountry. President Obama, for instance, has faced a lot of challengesin his tenure due to majority of congress belonging to theopposition. He has always relied on executive directives to pass andascent to key bills that the congress failed to pass. Presidents Bushand Clinton have faced many controversies concerning their executiveprivilege on matters concerning impeachment and war on terrorism(Daalder, &amp Lindsay, 2003).

Various foreign policies have been made through executive directivesin emergency situations without the ascent of the congress, arousingmass criticism from congress and civil society. Middle East and NorthAfrican crisis have all been based on presidential powers. War onterror and democracy in Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, Tunisia, Iraq andIran has all been advised by executive arm of the government(Daalder, &amp Lindsay, 2003). Many sectors have insistedinvolvement of other arms of government when such important decisionsconcerning national security, war and foreign policies are executed.The excess clandestine and secret dossiers submitted to the presidentonly by military and other intelligence agencies has been a centre ofcontroversy too with many critics recommending equivalent submissionsto congress (Cooper, 2002).

The presidents derive their power from the article two of theAmerican constitution and other inherent powers not contained in theconstitution (Kmiec, 2009). American constitution was written over200 years ago and contains the powers and privileges of sittingpresidents. As commander-in-chief, the president can command themilitary and direct warfare on nations deemed enemies of the UnitedStates (Kmiec, 2009). The president can order such expeditionswithout the approval of the congress or courts.

The president also enjoys veto powers over legislations made bycongress, giving him formidable power over all federal legislations(Kmiec, 2009). The president has powers to convene and call off thenational congress whenever the need arises. Having the power toappoint judges and ambassadors, the president has the power toinfluence certain rulings and foreign policies (Kmiec, 2009). He cancoerce such judges to give rulings in favor of his intendedinterests. The president also has used their executive clemencypowers to pardon criminals. The presidents may use such pardons toachieve political milestones especially if it relates to powerfulindividuals in political and financial arena where they stand tobenefit (Cooper, 2002).

The president also enjoys the executive powers provided in theconstitution where he/she can give executive orders that are bound tothe law (Kmiec, 2009). Such orders do not require any approval by thecongress although they can be reviewed by the court systems. Suchexecutive powers can help presidents to pass key bills and policiesthat the congress may delay or refuse to pass (Cooper, 2002). As theappointing officer of key federal and parastatal officials, thepresident can appoint his closest allies to advance his agenda ingovernment. He is therefore, able to control them and manipulate themwhenever necessary (Cooper, 2002). Though tyrannical governing styleis unconstitutional, many sitting presidents needs power to controland quell any opposition in government (Cooper, 2002). There is noparticular president who wishes to be opposed in every decision thathe makes and thus appointing people who are loyal is very important.

The president also enjoys inherent powers which are not included inthe constitution (Fisher, 2007). The inherent powers are notspecifically defined in the constitution but are derived fromnon-specific and loose statements in the constitution. One suchinherent power is vesting of executive powers on the president whowould faithfully execute them (Fisher, 2007). Other inherent powersare included in the status of commander-in-chief. These inherentpowers are open-ended are have low degree of check and balances,prompting for abuse by sitting presidents. For instance, PresidentJefferson used such inherent powers in justification of Louisianastate purchase to expand US size in 1803 (Fisher, 2007). Washingtonalso used these powers to advocate for American strict neutralityduring the war between France and Britain.

In conclusion, the current presidents are very powerful in theircapacity as executive chiefs and commanders-in-chief. Americanpresidents are respected and feared in equal measure all over theworld. Whenever they go, they bring business and operations in astand still. They are very powerful presidents and they derive theirpower from the constitution and other inherent powers. Americanpresidents have increased their executive powers causing a clashbetween the presidency, congress and judiciary. Presidential can usethe powerful executive to further their selfish interests andtherefore, proper checks and balances need to be put in place tomonitor the executive supremacy.


Cooper, P. J. (2002). By order of the president: The use and abuse ofexecutive direct action. Kansas: University Press of Kansas.

Daalder, I. H., &amp Lindsay, J. M. (2003). America unbound: TheBush revolution in foreign policy. Washington: BrookingsInstitution Press.

Fisher, L. (2007). Invoking inherent powers: A primer. PresidentialStudies Quarterly, 37(1), 1-22

Kmiec, D. W. (2009). The History, Philosophy, and Structure of theAmerican Constitution. New York: LexisNexis/Matthew Bender