LIMITS TO PRESIDENTIAL POWER
LIMITS TO PRESIDENTIAL POWER
Growth in executive power = 1973 "The Imperial Presidency" says pres is underminding checks and balances, power has expanded beyond constitutional limits
NIXON was president at the time - broad interpretation of presidential power! Gave impression of being an imperial president
eg. ordered NSA to wiretap phones WITHOUT warrant
Ordered bombing of Cambodia secretly
Ended federal programmes by refusing to spend appropriated funds
Was this book fair/accurate? the constitution established CHECKS on presidential power
Gerald Ford write "Imperillled, Not Imperial" for Time - says president was too weak, impossible to control huge fed bureaucracy made up of 200s of agencies, AND lack of party disciplie in Congress means presidents cannot rely on party members
Congress has a LOT of checks on pres enumerated pwoers = president sometimes turns to political power, PERSUASION
Const gives pres power to PROPOSE BILLS but have to rely on political powers to PERSUADE Congress to pass it" Same with treaties and appointments
eg. truman said power of the president amounted to "persuading people to do the things they ought to have the sense to do without my persuading them"
Pres can invite members of Con to WH to persuade them! Newer members are more impressionable // Pres can offer to campaign for them at next election/help fundraise
BUT RELIES ON POPULARITY: eg. Obama 2009 apporval rating was 57% vs. 2012 48% - no one wanted to campaign with him! Persuasion worth less - 2012 mid terms, lots of D candidates criticised the president, wanted distance, did not want his unpopularity to affect their campaign!
eg. June 2014 Kentucky Alison Grimes criticsed president over loss of 1/3 coal kobs - "Mr President, you'll be hearing a lot more when I'm in the Senate"
Can as others to help! eg. ask VP to make calls - eg. Biden serves in Sen for 36 years, so has very good relations with a lot of Senators! eg. Can ask cabinet members (strong expertise), majority/minority leaders to whip, Office of Legislative Affair (lobbyists working full time for the president)
What about exec orders? Can only be used to shape EXECUTION of laws passed by Congress
eg. 2009: Obama 13492 - ordered closure of Guantanamo Bay within the year, BUT Congress passes Supplemental Appropriations Act = funds for transfer/release of detainees blocked! Makes exec order impossible to carry out. G Bay still open!
Only Congress can pass laws/appropruiate funds!
Some outlined in constitution: Declare war, overturn veto, power of purse, ratify treaties, reject nominations, impeachment, etc.
Term Point - president's tend to have more power at the start of their administration
"Lame Duck Presidents" - nearing the end of term and has decided not to run again/already been defeated - said to LACK POWER, harder to make bargains when everyone knows youll be replaces
eg. OBAMA promised "Hope and Change", awarded Nobel peace prize in 2009 for cooperation etc., BUT power remains shared - cannot control and direct other countries
2nd term, pres usually loses Congres eg. W Bush - 2006 midterms, Dems take House and Senate, in 2012 and 2014 Obama loses House then Senate
Obama: first 2 years, Obama got basically all house votes! 94% of House votes in 2009, BUT in 2012, decreases to only 20% - Easier to get his way in the Senate until 2014 when Repubs took over
Increasing partisanship = no longer possible for president to appeal to moderates, Obama cannot fuilfil promise to work with both parties and have bipartisan support
eg. 2012 ACA - 219-212 in House, 60-49 in Senate WITHOUT A SINGLE REPUBLICAN VOTE! Would not have been passed after 2012 elections when Obama lost House
SC can declare pres actions unconstitutional when they dont follow clearly stated enumerated powers
eg. Nixon v US 1974 - Watergate, refused to hand over tapes, claimed exec priv - SC 9-0 said priv did exist but president was not above the law, and the trial was criminal!
eg. Bush Guantanamo Bay - 2002 Bush established detention centre to detain and interrogate. Detainees there without trial and legal counsel, 2004: Rasul v Bush SC determined whether foreign nationals held outside US could invoke habeas corpus (right to require gov to prove to a court of law why you are detained) - SC ruled detainees COULD use US courts! As US had leased land for so long it was effectively US terriroty
Bush responded by ordering new military commissions to try detainees BUT 2006: Hamdan v Rumsfeld - SC ruled pres power as commander in chief did not allow him to CREATE military commisions! BUT congress passed military tribunals act, basically gave him the power anyway, and said anyone classified by pres as 'enemy combatants' could NOT challenge their detention
Detainees could face military tribunal, but the process was slow and didnt have same rights in normal trial = 2008 Boumediene v Bush, said MCA was unconst, violated constitutional right to habeas corpus, pres cannot prohibit right to question detention