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Understanding the responsibilities and Authority of the President of the United States

Updated on June 15, 2012

Today there is much focus on the position of President of the United States in this election year but do we as individuals really know the responsibilities and authority of this position. Article II of the Constitution specifically identifies the responsibilities individuals who hold the office of President embrace. Section 2, clause 1 of this article states the President is the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy and the militia of the states. While this article does not specifically identify the Air Force, Marine Corps or the Coast Guard being Commander in Chief brings these organizations under the control of the President. Today the term militia is representative of the National Guard and falls under Presidential jurisdiction when called into service for the United States.

Part of the authority of being President under clause 1 in Section II grants the power to issue Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment. The process of Presidential Pardons has been in the news in the past concerning both the amount of pardons issued and the individuals who receive them. Though some decisions involving pardons may not be well received issuing such pardons does not violate the Constitutional authority for the office of President.

Other additional duties and authority within Article II gives the President the authority to negotiate treaties but they do not go into effect unless two thirds of the Senators present concur. Additional duties are defined in Section 2 stating the President has the authority to appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the Supreme Court and all other Officers of the United States whose appointments are not otherwise provided for. These actions must receive a two thirds majority from the Senate.

Another topic which falls under the authority of the President is noted in clause 3 of Article II. This involves the authority of the President to fill vacancies that happen during the Recess of the Senate. These types of appointments have typically been labeled recess appointments and they expire at the end of the next session. Individuals who hold the office of President should not utilize this authority without caution. Appointments under this type of process should be evaluated to determine if there is little chance that appointments will be confirmed.

Sections 3 and 4 under Article II involve the requirement of presenting the State of the Union which we see every January. The State of the Union is a President’s goals for the next fiscal year and is the method of presenting his plans to both Houses of Congress. While the general goals are presented the details of the approach to attain them will be given in a formal budget proposal. The proposal will be reviewed by both Houses of Congress for acceptance, rejection or modifications of the content being presented.

The office of President is a highly respected office and been typically referred to as the leader of the leader of the free world. Those who have considered running for this office including being elected or re-elected must understand the duties which they must fulfill. Decisions made by the President will affect not only our country but they can have an impact of other countries of the world. These economic times and the various situations around the world are examples of decisions a President will face each day he is in office. Supporting the President are the heads of the Departments in the executive branch of government. Typically another authority and responsibility to which a President is entrusted is presenting his choices for filling the heads of departments in the Executive Branch. These choices must be confirmed by the Senate. Let us hope any President chooses wisely for America. Individuals filling these positions can impact every citizen not only with decisions they make but also with the regulations they create within their respective department/agency. Putting the wrong individuals in any of these positions can affect the how an administration is perceived. This involves not only while he is in office but as history looks back on what actions were taken or not taken with regards to issues facing the country.



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