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December 15, 2014
Wonkology: Executive Order
An executive order
the Executive Branch to act in a specific manner in accordance with federal law.
You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch
The first executive order,
by George Washington, prohibited American
intervention in a war between the French and the English. The process of
executive orders, often issued as presidential
memoranda or proclamations, began in 1907 by the State Department. Presidents invoke their authority as “Executive-in-Chief”
consistent with Article II of the Constitution, which states that the President “shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.”
Similar to a formal action taken by a corporate executive, executive orders often are used by the President to provide operational management of the Executive Branch.
Let It Go
Presidents since Washington have issued executive orders to enact wide-ranging policy,
typically consistent with existing legislation or the implied powers of the Constitution. For example, President Lincoln’s
and President Truman’s
desegregation of the Armed Forces
were both accomplished by executive order.
FDR issued over 3,700 executive orders in response to the Great Depression and World War II.
An executive order can only be
by future presidents, an act of Congress (subject to veto), or a ruling by the Supreme Court.
Hazy Shade of Winter
Executive orders can become controversial if it appears that the President has acted
outside of his Constitutional powers or existing law. For example, the Supreme Court
President Truman’s executive order seizing US steel
mills during the Korean War because it did not “stem either from an act of Congress or from the Constitution itself.” Recently, there has been controversy
surrounding President Obama’s
issuance of an executive order
limiting the deportation of undocumented immigrants. As a result, the
under consideration this week by Congress funds the entire government through the end of the 2015 federal fiscal year, except that the Department of
Homeland Security would be subject a short-term continuing resolution to give the new Congress the opportunity to examine this issue early next year.