Thursday, December 9, 2010

Article II, The Executive Branch

December 9, 2010 Constitution Study with Douglas V. Gibbs, Temecula, California

“The common law of England is not the common law of these States.” —George Mason

Article II, The Executive Branch

Key Terms:

Executive Power: Executive power is vested in the President by the U.S. Constitution in Article 2. The principal responsibility of the President is to ensure that all laws are faithfully carried out. The President is the chief executive officer of the federal government. He is the leader of the executive branch and the commander in chief of the armed forces. He has the power to make treaties with other nations, with the advice and consent of two-thirds of the Senate. The President also appoints, with Senate consent, diplomatic representatives, Supreme Court judges, and many other officials. Except impeachment, he also has the power to issue pardons and reprieves. Such pardons are not subject to confirmation by either house of Congress, or even to acceptance by the recipient. Another important power granted to the President is veto power over all bills, but Congress, as noted above, may override any veto except for a pocket veto by a two-thirds majority in each house. When the two houses of Congress cannot agree on a date for adjournment, the President may settle the dispute. Either house or both houses may be called into emergency session by the President.

Natural Born Citizen: One universal point most all early publicists agreed on was natural-born citizen must mean one who is a citizen by no act of law. If a person owes their citizenship to some act of law (naturalization for example), they cannot be considered a natural-born citizen. This leads us to defining natural-born citizen under the laws of nature - laws the founders recognized and embraced. French Philosopher Emmerich de Vattel’s “Law of Nations” was a book the Founding Fathers used for many of their definitions. The Law of Nations defined a natural-born citizen as not only being a person who was born in his country, but also whose father was a citizen of that same country at the time of the birth of the subject in question. Citizenship by descent through the father is natural law. When a child inherits the citizenship of their father through natural law they become a natural-born citizen of the nation their father belongs regardless of where they might be born. All natural-born citizens are also native born of the location of their birth, but not all native born are natural-born citizens.

Commander in Chief: A commander-in-chief is the most senior commander of a nation's military forces or a major division of those forces such as the navy, army or air-force. In modern times the head of the combined forces may not be a serving member of the military but the president or monarch. As with any other commander, he has the ability to put those in his charge into action without having to wait for an approval, if he deems it necessary. In other words, the President has the authority to wage war. However, his actions are checked by Congress’ ability to fund, or defund, the military action. Though a President can send troops into battle, the Congress is capable of constraining that executive power through their control over the budget.


Article II establishes the Executive Branch.

Section 1 establishes the offices of President and Vice President. The election process is by the Electoral College. Originally the State Legislatures appointed the electors, but that was later changed in 1824 to a direct vote of the electors by the people. The change was technically unconstitutional because no amendment was proposed and ratified. Section 1 also requires the President to be a Natural Born Citizen of the United States, as well as establishing his compensation.

Section 2 gives the President some important powers. As Commander in Chief of the armed forces, and of the militias of all the states, he is able to wage war. Declaration of war, and the funding of war, is reserved to the Congress. Section 2 also states that the President may have a cabinet to assist him, but that the appointees must be through the advice and consent of Congress. He make make treaties with other nations, but the treaties must be ratified by the Senate. He may also pick judges, and other members of government, but once again none of this can be done without the approval of the Senate. This is where the constitutionality of "czars" comes in question.

Section 3 establishes the duties of the President, such as giving a State of the Union Address, making suggestions to Congress, acting as head of state by receiving ambassadors and other heads of state, and ensuring that the laws of the United States are executed.

Section 4 explains impeachment.


Thank You to Faith Armory, 27498 Enterprise Circle West, #2 in Temecula, California, for the use of their classroom.

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