Describe Thomas Jefferson’s Presidency; its successes and failures.

Your initial response to the question should be between 250 – 300 words long. Include references and citations where necessary to ensure proper credit and documentation of your sources. You are welcome to include references in addition to the course textbook, just ensure that you use proper documentation.
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of examples will vary according to the question minimum of three sources) and references for any
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You are to answer only one of the following questions! However, each of the questions is multi-layered, be sure to address each of the points raised in each question.
When answering your question, be sure to provide the number and copy-and-paste the question itself in your response.
1) Describe Thomas Jefferson’s Presidency; its successes and failures.
(3) What were Andrew Jackson’s policies on banking and tariffs? How did they evolve? Do you think those policies helped or hurt the American economy? Why?
(4) What was the Nullification Crisis of 1832? What steps did Jackson take in relation to this? Why is this important?
(5) Why did Jackson support Indian Removal? Did Removal help to preserve, or to destroy, Native American culture? Explain your answer.
(6) Describe Texas’ War for Independence and its bids to be incorporated/annexed into the United States. Why was this such a controversial issue?
Assignment responses should be no less than 300 words and no more than about 500 words
From the readings in Lesson 3, we discussed Congress’s quandry regarding the employment of combat forces abroad. During the Vietnam Conflict, President Nixon employed hundreds of thousands of combat forces into Southeast Asia without approval of Congress. Eventually, Congress felt compelled to pass the War Powers Resolution of 1973 (over his veto). As such, the president can still employ troops abroad to defend US interests, but then is required to notify Congress of the employment within 48 hours, and then withdraw them within 60 days – unless Congress formally declares war or authorizes the use of military force. However, subsequent presidents have not all followed this Resolution. This has caused a rift between the president and Congress that still exists today.
For this Forum assignment, please discuss the issue of how American military forces should be employed in conflict abroad. Is it strictly the president’s call? What is Congress’s role? Are the restrictions in the War Powers Resolution of 1973 realistic? How should this issue be resolved? Please use examples in your post; include citations or URLs for your work to receive full credit;
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Lesson 3: Congress
Expected Outcomes
To understand the structure and process of the Legislative Branch, and to be familiar with both sides of the debate surrounding electronic voting and other controversies.
The US Constitution provides for “separation of powers” and “checks and balances,” but it is still fair to claim that the Founding Fathers anticipated that Congress would be the branch that gave clearest voice to the diverse opinions and aspirations of voters.
That’s partly why its duties and responsibilities are included in Article I of the Constitution. The principal architect of the US Constitution, James Madison, made this clear in The Federalist Papers #51:

“But it is not possible to give to each department an equal power of self-defense. In republican government, the legislative authority necessarily predominates.”

James Madison also feared excessive power in the Congress, which is why he and others settled on the proposal for a “bicameral” legislative branch: a House of Representatives and a Senate. For a bill to become a law, it would have to pass both houses of Congress, which is difficult.
As James Madison continued:

“The remedy for this inconveniency is to divide the legislature into different branches; and to render them, by different modes of election and different principles of action, as little connected with each other as the nature of their common functions and their common dependence on the society will admit. It may even be necessary to guard against dangerous encroachments by still further precautions.”

While Madison and others were acutely aware of the potential tyranny of a single despot, king or even president, they were also cautious about the concept of “direct democracy,” suspecting that Congress might become a vehicle for “tyranny of the majority.” In such a tyranny, a majority would begin to restrict the rights of individuals and minorities.
A Joint Session of Congress
As James Madison wrote in The Federalist #10:

“A pure democracy can admit no cure for the mischief of faction. A common passion or interest will be felt by a majority, and there is nothing to check the inducements to sacrifice the weaker party. Hence it is, that democracies have ever been found incompatible with personal security or the rights of property; and have, in general, been as short in their lives as they have been violent in their deaths.”

He saw direct democracy as a danger to individual rights and advocated a representative democracy (also called a republic), in order to protect what he viewed as individual liberty from majority rule, or from the effects of such inequality within society.
“The tyranny of the Legislature is really the danger most to be feared, and will continue to be so for many years to come. The tyranny of the executive power will come in its turn, but at a more distant period.”
-Thomas Jefferson
Alexis de Tocqueville, in Democracy in America, also raised the problem of an overly-strong legislature in the 1840s:

“The legislature is, of all political institutions, the one which is most easily swayed by the wishes of the majority. The Americans determined that the members of the legislature should be elected by the people immediately, and for a very brief term, in order to subject them, not only to the general convictions, but even to the daily passion, of their constituents. The members of both houses are taken from the same class in society, and are nominated in the same manner; so that the modifications of the legislative bodies are almost as rapid and quite as irresistible as those of a single assembly. It is to a legislature thus constituted that almost all the authority of the government has been entrusted.But whilst the law increased the strength of those authorities which of themselves were strong, it enfeebled more and more those which were naturally weak. It deprived the representatives of the executive of all stability and independence, and by subjecting them completely to the caprices of the legislature; it robbed them of the slender influence which the nature of a democratic government might have allowed them to retain. In several States the judicial power was also submitted to the elective discretion of the majority, and in all of them its existence was made to depend on the pleasure of the legislative authority, since the representatives were empowered annually to regulate the stipend of the judges.”

The US Congress is “bicameral,” as mentioned above, meaning it has two chambers. The upper chamber is the Senate, and it is more powerful because it has the final authority on the budget, foreign treaties and other matters. Today, each of the 50 states has two senators who serve renewable terms of 6 years. In a sense, this arrangement gives the smaller states extraordinary and disproportionate power in the Senate. Wyoming, with fewer than one million people, has the same number of senators as California, with over 38 million people.
The lower chamber is the House of Representatives. Each of the 50 states has a different number of representatives, depending upon their relative population, and this is determined in the national census conducted every 10 years. There are 435 representatives who serve renewable terms of 2 years, with California having the most, while small states like Vermont or Wyoming have just one.
Congress is especially relevant today because of the polarization of the American public – of its apparent division into conservative and liberal voting blocs. While some scholars downplay this division, partisan politics and the culture wars have figured prominently in the campaigns and elections from 1994 onward. The presidential election of 2000 was the closest ever, and issues of transparency and fairness arose in that election.
For these reasons, issues of electronic voting and redistricting have become more important in Congress. A small difference in the shape or size of a legislative district at the state level can change the outcome of national politics – as can, for some critics, whether or not a district employs electronic voting machines. Some of these controversies are addressed below. It is important to point out that Congress is normally held in low regard by American popular opinion and today many if not most people hold negative opinions about here for more information on this paper
“Reader, suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress. But I repeat myself.”
-Mark Twain
Scope and Limits of Legislative Power
What Congress is supposed to do – and what it is not supposed to do – is spelled out in Article I of the US Constitution.
Article I, section 8, provides a clear enumeration of the duties and responsibilities of Congress.

Article I. Section 8.The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes, duties, imposts and excises, to pay the debts and provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States; but all duties, imposts and excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;
To borrow money on the credit of the United States;
To regulate commerce with foreign nations, and among the several states, and with the Indian tribes;
To establish a uniform rule of naturalization, and uniform laws on the subject of bankruptcies throughout the United States;
To coin money, regulate the value thereof, and of foreign coin, and fix the standard of weights and measures;
To provide for the punishment of counterfeiting the securities and current coin of the United States;
To establish post offices and post roads;
To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;
To constitute tribunals inferior to the Supreme Court;
To define and punish piracies and felonies committed on the high seas, and offenses against the law of nations;
To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;
To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;
To provide and maintain a navy;
To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;
To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular states, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States, and to exercise like authority over all places purchased by the consent of the legislature of the state in which the same shall be, for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings;–And
To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into execution the foregoing powers, and all other powers vested by this Constitution in the government of the United States, or in any department or officer thereof.

The “necessary and proper clause” mentioned at the end of end of Section 8 keeps Congress occupied; passing new legislation that is theoretically both “necessary” and “proper” to fulfill its duties. How is all this “work” accomplished?

How a Bill Becomes LawIntroduction of Bills. Bills can begin in either the House or the Senate. Different versions of a bill can begin in both chambers concurrently.

  • Bills can only be introduced by members of Congress.
  • Many bills originate in the Executive Branch and are introduced by a congressional sponsor.
  • New bills are numbered and sent to the appropriate committee.

Committee Action. The bill comes under its most intense scrutiny while in committee, and most bills die in committee.

  • The bill is considered either by the full committee or a subcommittee
  • The committee may order a “clean bill,” with a new number, to be introduced.

Floor Action. Next, the bill appears before the entire House or Senate. The two chambers have different procedures for floor debate.

  • The House Rules Committee regulates debate for each bill, issuing the “rule” for the bill.
  • Members can speak on a bill for a set period of time, as specified in the “rule.”
  • To speed debate on some bills, the House meets as the Committee of the Whole, which has different rules for floor debate. The Committee of the Whole can amend a bill, but cannot pass it.


  • Senate debate is unlimited. However, today, only the indication that a senator is willing to hold an unlimited debate is enough to prevent a bill from receiving an up-or-down vote (no actual time on the Senate floor). This is known as a filibuster.
  • A filibuster may be closed by unanimous consent (which is very unlikely), or by invoking “cloture,” which requires a three-fifths vote of Senators present. If all 100 Senators are present, then 60 votes are required to invoke cloture.
  • Successful filibusters effectively kills a bill. Today, almost every bill in the Senate requires 60 votes to end a filibuster so the bill can receive an up-or-down floor vote.

Second Chamber. Once one chamber has voted to pass a bill, the other chamber may:

  • Pass it with the language intact.
  • Refer it to a committee for scrutiny or alteration.
  • Reject the entire bill, informing the other chamber of its actions, or
  • Ignore the bill, while working on its own version of the legislation.

Conference. When the two chambers pass differing versions of similar legislation, the bill goes to a conference committee to reconcile the differences. A conference committee is convened as necessary. Its members consist of equal members from both political parties. Once the conference committee has crafted a compromise bill, both the House and Senate need to pass it again as it is (with no further changes) before it is sent to the president for signature.
The President. The Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate both sign the approved bill and send it to the president, who then has four options.

  • If the president signs and dates the bill, it becomes law.
  • If Congress is in session, and the president does not sign the bill within 10 days, the bill becomes law without his signature.
  • The president may “veto” the bill. The bill then goes back to Congress for a veto override vote. In order to override the president’s veto, there must be a 2/3 vote in the House and a 2/3 vote in the Senate. (A 2/3 vote by Congress, overall, is not sufficient.
  • If Congress adjourns within 10 days of giving the bill to the president, and he does not sign it, the bill dies. This is called a “pocket veto.”

Due to the high volume and complexity of legislation, Congress divides its tasks among approximately 250 committees and sub-committees. The House and Senate each have their own committee system, which are similar. The list below offers a sense of how Congress divides its responsibilities into various spheres of activity.

Standing Committees
Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry
Armed Services
Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs
Commerce, Science, and Transportation
Energy and Natural Resources
Environment and Public Works
Foreign Relations
Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
Rules and Administration
Small Business and Entrepreneurship
Veterans AffairsSpecial, Select, and Other Committees
Indian Affairs
Select Committee on Ethics
Select Committee on Intelligence
Special Committee on Aging
Joint Committees
Joint Committee on Printing
Joint Committee on Taxation
Joint Committee on the Library
Joint Economic Committee
Standing Committees
Armed Services
Energy and Commerce
Government Reform
Homeland Security
House Administration
International Relations
Small Business
Standards of Official Conduct
Transportation and Infrastructure
Veterans’ Affairs
Ways and MeansSpecial, Select, and Other Committees
House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
Committee to Investigate the Preparation for and Response to Hurricane Katrina
Joint Committees
Joint Committee on Printing
Joint Committee on Taxation

As with many organizations Congress has developed its own terminology over the years, some of it similar to legislative bodies around the world.

Congressional Glossary of TermsAmendment – A proposal to change the language of a bill, can be offered in Committee or on the Floor.
Bill – A legislative proposal introduced by a member of Congress. Bills are designated as HR (House of Representatives) or S (Senate) according to the body in which they are introduced, and assigned numbers according to the order in which they are introduced. Most bills are public bills, dealing with general issues. Private bills deal with individual claims against the government, such as immigration cases and land disputes.
Budget Committees – A committee in each chamber that coordinates spending legislation and formulates the overall congressional budget.
Cloture – The procedure by which a filibuster can be ended in the Senate. Cloture requires the signatures of 16 Senators and the votes of three- fifths of the Senate (60 Senators).
Concurrent Resolution – A statement of opinion approved by a simple majority in the House and Senate but is not sent to the President for approval.
Conference Committee – A special committee formed to reconcile differences between differing versions of a bill passed by the Senate and House. Conference committee members, or conferees, are appointed from the bill’s sponsoring committees in each chamber.
Filibuster – A time-delaying tactic associated only with the Senate and used by a minority in an effort to delay, modify or defeat a bill or amendment that probably would pass if voted on directly. The most common method is to take advantage of the Senate’s rules permitting unlimited debate.
Hearing – House and Senate Committee session in which testimony regarding legislation is taken from interested parties.
Joint Committee – A committee composed of both House and Senate members.
Joint Resolution – A statement of opinion approved by a simple majority in the House and Senate and sent to the President for approval to have the force of law.
Line Item Veto Act – Gave the President authority to cancel discretionary spending, items of new direct spending, and limited tax benefits, which may only be overridden by a two-thirds vote in Congress. Ruled unconstitutional in 1996.
Majority Leader – The leading spokesperson and legislative strategist for the party in control of either the House or the Senate.
Majority Whip – The assistant majority leader in the House or Senate.
Minority Leader – The leading spokesperson and legislative strategist for the minority party in either the House or Senate.
Minority Whip – The assistant minority leader in either House or Senate.
Omnibus Bill – A bill containing several separate but related items. Usually used for must-pass issues such as the federal budget. The key for this type of bill is reconciliation, meaning it must receive a floor vote in both chambers of Congress (ie, no Senate filibuster).
Override a Veto – A procedure that Congress may enact when the president refuses to sign a bill into law. Requires a two-thirds vote in each chamber. If this vote occurs, the bill then becomes law over the president’s objections.
Quorum – The required minimum number of members present for the House or Senate to conduct official business (51 in the Senate, 218 in the House). Both chambers usually assume a quorum is present even if it is not.
Reconciliation – A rule applied by the leaders of Congress to a bill that must be passed, such as the federal budget. This rule limits debate in both chambers. This is important in that the Senate filibuster cannot be implemented for this bill (usually applied to an omnibus bill).
Rider – An amendment, usually not germane, which its sponsor hopes to get through more easily by including it in other legislation.
Rule – The instructions on the time and substance of debate on a House bill, which are attached to the bill when reported out to the floor by the House Rules Committee

To learn more about Congress and the US Government, please reference Thomas (ie, Library of Congress).
Of all the procedures mentioned above, the “filibuster” is one of the most dramatic. Strom Thurmond (D-SC) set a record in 1957 by filibustering the Civil Rights Act of 1957 for 24 hours and 18 minutes, although the bill ultimately passed. Thurmond broke the previous record of 22 hours and 26 minutes set by Wayne Morse (I-OR) in 1953.
Controversies Regarding the Legislative Branch
In the past several decades, several interesting controversies have surfaced which address Congress. Some of these controversies ebb and flow; that is, they appear to recede only to resurface a few years later. This section examines several debates relevant to Congress: term limits, electronic voting and pork-barrel spending.
Term Limits
In the 1980s and 1990s, an increasing number of Americans began to question their system of legislative representation. Under the US Constitution, representatives both at the state and federal level reserved the right to keep running (usually winning).
Why is this bad? Many citizens felt that long-term politicians, or incumbents, enjoy too much of an advantage over challengers, who are often younger and hold fresher ideas. Would not the legislative process be enhanced, they asked, with a more rapid turnover of representatives?
Many critics of the present system also argued that established politicians tend to develop political machines that become corrupt. They learn all the tricks of the trade, and indeed the largest “pork-barrel” projects tend to be sponsored by seasoned politicians.
Simultaneously, social spending and entitlements continue to rise. Many advocates of term limits hold their views for fiscal reasons, thinking that entrenched politicians are simply too eager to spend. Alexis de Tocqueville, a Frenchman who traveled widely in the US in the 1840s, and who wrote Democracy in America, said something interesting.
“The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money”
-Alexis de Tocqueville
For reasons of fiscal restraint and concern over corruption, residents of several states attempted to restrict the time that their representatives can serve in Congress. The concept is called “term limits.”
Some states, like Arkansas, even passed legislation for term limits. After much debate in the media and in the courtroom of public opinion, the entire issue went to the US Supreme Court in U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton (1995). The Court ruled against term limits, at least for state-elected representatives at the federal level in Washington, D.C.
Justice Stevens delivered the opinion:

U.S. Term Limits, Inc. v. Thornton (1995)… Term limits, like any other qualification for office, unquestionably restrict the ability of voters to vote for whom they wish. On the other hand, such limits may provide for the infusion of fresh ideas and new perspectives, and may decrease the likelihood that representatives will lose touch with their constituents. It is not our province to resolve this longstanding debate.
We are, however, firmly convinced that allowing the several States to adopt term limits for congressional service would effect a fundamental change in the constitutional framework. Any such change must come not by legislation adopted either by Congress or by an individual State, but rather–as have other important changes in the electoral process [n.50] –through the Amendment procedures set forth in Article V…
In the absence of a properly passed constitutional amendment, allowing individual States to craft their own qualifications for Congress would thus erode the structure envisioned by the Framers, a structure that was designed, in the words of the Preamble to our Constitution, to form a “more perfect Union.”

The dissent was written by Justice Clarence Thomas:

Nothing in the Constitution deprives the people of each State of the power to prescribe eligibility requirements for the candidates who seek to represent them in Congress. The Constitution is simply silent on this question. And where the Constitution is silent, it raises no bar to action by the States or the people.Because the majority fundamentally misunderstands the notion of “reserved” powers, I start with some first principles. Contrary to the majority’s suggestion, the people of the States need not point to any affirmative grant of power in the Constitution in order to prescribe qualifications for their representatives in Congress or to authorize their elected state legislators to do so.
Our system of government rests on one overriding principle: all power stems from the consent of the people. To phrase the principle in this way, however, is to be imprecise about something important to the notion of “reserved” powers. The ultimate source of the Constitution’s authority is the consent of the people of each individual State, not the consent of the undifferentiated people of the Nation as a whole…

For now, the issue of term limits in Washington DC has been more or less settled, but the motivations and interests advancing term limits remain.
Electronic Voting
Technology often improves out lives, but does it improve our electoral system? Electronic voting is increasingly being used in all kinds of elections, including those for Congress. Moreover, if national standards or restrictions emerge surrounding this issue, it will more likely than not emerge within Congress.
Electronic voting is a hotly-debated question. There are two articles below. The first supports the concept of electronic voting, claiming that it is fair, efficient and economical. The second article is radically opposed to e-voting, claiming that it gives corporations and dominant political parties a “backup option” to steal an election.

The Case for Electronic Voting
Excerpt from Wired News, the Case for Electronic VotingFarhad ManjooTownsend, who is the registrar of voters in Riverside County, decided to spend $14 million earlier this year to make Riverside an all-electronic voting county.
At the time, she said, not everyone was thrilled about the idea. Some of her colleagues thought the touch-screen voting machines might be too complicated for voters, and that the whole upgrade might be too expensive. Nobody is questioning Townsend’s decision anymore.
The deployment of electronic voting equipment in Riverside was a long-time in coming. “The idea came two years ago, after California’s 1998 gubernatorial primary,” Townsend said.
That year, Riverside spent $1.4 million to print a ballot for each of the county’s registered voters — about 600,000. Only about half of the voters showed up at the polls, and “we had to throw out the rest of the ballots,” Townsend said.
A more significant problem than the cost, though, was the error-rate of the county’s punch-card system. “In Florida now, they’re talking about the problems with ‘overvoting’” — people voting for more than one candidate — “but this isn’t a new thing. I’d see voters all the time making that mistake,” she said. Townsend thought there had to be a better way. And she found it, she said, in Sequoia Pacific Voting Equipment’s AVC Edge touch-screen system.
The new voting machines were first tested in a few small city races, and Townsend said the touch system had two things going for it: It was easy to use, and it eliminated errors.
The public liked it too, Townsend said. “For the city races, we had a 99 percent approval rating of the new systems. The comments were mostly, ‘We’ve finally stepped into the 21st century,’ and ‘Why has it taken so long for this?’”
“The election business is slow-moving,” said Paul Terwilliger, an engineer at Sequoia Pacific Voting Equipment. But now, after Florida, “electronic voting is certainly going to explode,” he said.
And a lot of firms, both traditional and startup, are jockeying into position for a possible financial windfall.
One such traditional company that has started producing electronic systems is Hart InterCivic, which this year tested its eSlate voting system in a few counties across the country.
The eSlate resembles an “an oversized palm-pilot, about the size of a legal-sized sheet of paper,” said Michelle Shafer, a spokeswoman for Hart. Unlike the Riverside County systems, the eSlates don’t use a touch-screen. “You vote by turning a wheel on the bottom, and you make a selection by pressing a button,” she said…
Everyone who tried the system in Arizona liked it, and more than 80 percent said they would prefer to vote using such electronic terminals…

Many conservative libertarians and progressive populists, however, take issue with electronic voting, seeing a sinister aspect in the new technology.

Electronic Voting is Fraudulent. V Citizens, excerpts.Secrecy in government has taken a new turn. Elections are now secret from voters. Black-box voting employs touch-screen machines that often produce no printed receipt. Without a paper trail, a legitimate recount is impossible. It’s a virtual vote. And that’s the point, actually.
Electronic voting is “secret” because citizens curious about how, exactly, electronic votes are counted are barred from analyzing protected software. It’s private property. And when states and counties demand access to the software codes the e-voting companies simply pull up stakes and move to other markets. The companies involved in black-box voting include Diebold, Election Systems & Software, and Sequoia, and the large investors in these companies include defense contractors Northrup-Grumman and Lockheed-Martin.
Many Americans, particularly in Ohio, remain suspicious that Ohio forced 800,000 voters to cast “virtual votes,” giving them no other option. (Bush won that deciding state by just 150,000 votes.)
Controversy has always surrounded e-voting because it is widely viewed as vulnerable to fraud, hackers, malfunctions and power outages. Perhaps its most unique feature, however, is that e-voting is “virtual” in the full sense of the word: votes hover in cyberspace, not as matter but as energy, quarks akimbo. Then, sometime later, a private company decides to retrieve the votes from a private server – all of the votes, some of the votes, or none of the votes. You will never know.
A question arises: Why can’t Halliburton get a no-bid contract to run paperless elections on secret software, off of private servers, and then be in charge of actually counting the votes? Because another Party-backed company, Diebold, already got it.
Elections in America are increasingly privatized, paperless and virtual. Instead of marching, citizen-turned-consumers will register their political will, like drones, on a touch-screen pad.

Eventually, the issue of electronic voting will probably reach either the US Supreme Court, and the issue will be settled one way or another. Clearly, the debate over electronic voting is just beginning.
Citizen complaints about the lack of personal and professional ethics in Congress date to the 18th century – and these complaints cut across party lines – but the 21st century witnessed new kinds of grievances. For example, the Congress of 2000 – 2006 was commonly criticized for its frequent use of “doublethink” to describe the distortion of language for the purpose of political propaganda. Six examples stand out.

  • “The National Uniformity for Food Act” actually prohibited states like California from maintaining strict health standards, and it replaced these strong state standards with weaker federal standards. This was a favor to the food industry.
  • “Thee Clear Skies Act” actually allowed for more pollution and contamination than the legislation it was designed to replace.
  • “The Healthy Forests Initiative” was actually written by the timber industry and allowed for more logging on public lands. It weakened environmental regulations and limited the judicial review of abuses in the industry.
  • “The Data Quality Act” prevented the federal government from disseminating warnings about products if industries could produce, with its own self-generated “science,” countervailing data.
  • “Project Bioshield Act” prevents victims of toxic vaccinations from suing pharmaceutical companies, even if the vaccine maker engaged in fraud at the outset. This was a favor to the pharmaceutical industries.
  • “Middle Class Tax Cuts” actually provided very modest tax reductions for the middle class. It was principally designed to substantially reduce the taxes of the wealthy, which is a strategy favored by many economists as a method to stimulate the economy. (The problem is the name of the legislation).

Not too much changed in 2006, however. The new Congress did not eliminate pork-barrel spending or corporate welfare. In 2007, Congress loaded up an “emergency” budget with more than $20 billion in pork for members’ districts. This included money for peanut storage in Georgia; spinach growers in California; and office space for the lawmakers themselves.
Campaign Finance Reform
For some Americans, Congress has unfortunately become “the best Congress money can buy.” Numerous citizen-action groups, with a handful of congressmen, are advancing a new proposition, namely that a candidate for office be prohibited from accepting private money and that campaigns be financed from public money. Other similar proposals include more accountability, more transparency and a restriction on lobbyists.
One moderate proposal actually became law: the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (also known as the McCain-Feingold Act). This regulates the financing of political campaigns, and it was designed to address the increased role of in campaign financing of “soft money” (donations made directly to political parties by corporations, unions, or well-healed individuals).
Campaign-finance reform would theoretically restore accountability, honesty and civic-mindedness to Congress. Representatives and Senators would no longer be “bought and paid for.” However, there are constitutional issues involved. Does campaign-finance reform restrict an individual’s First Amendment right of freedom of association and freedom of political expression? After all, donating to a campaign has long been recognized as a form of political expression, and any ban on this has constitutional implications.
Actually, this debate reached the US Supreme Court, and it was brought by the California State Democratic Party and the National Rifle Association, who argued that the legislation was an unconstitutional infringement on their First Amendment rights. The US Supreme Court ruled in favor of almost all of the McCain-Feingold Act in McConnell v. Federal Election Commission (2003).

McConnell v. Federal Election Commission (2003)Question

  1. Does the “soft money” ban of the Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002 exceed Congress’s authority to regulate elections under Article 1, Section 4 of the United States Constitution and/or violate the First Amendment’s protection of the freedom to speak?
  2. Do regulations of the source, content, or timing of political advertising in the Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002 violate the First Amendment’s free speech clause?

With a few exceptions, the Court answered “no” to both questions in a 5-to-4 decision written by Justices Sandra Day O’Connor and John Paul Stevens. Because the regulations dealt mostly with soft-money contributions that were used to register voters and increase attendance at the polls, not with campaign expenditures (which are more explicitly a statement of political values and therefore deserve more protection), the Court held that the restriction on free speech was minimal. It then found that the restriction was justified by the government’s legitimate interest in preventing “both the actual corruption threatened by large financial contributions and… the appearance of corruption” that might result from those contributions.
In response to challenges that the law was too broad and unnecessarily regulated conduct that had not been shown to cause corruption (such as advertisements paid for by corporations or unions), the Court found that such regulation was necessary to prevent the groups from circumventing the law. Justices O’Connor and Stevens wrote that “money, like water, will always find an outlet” and that the government was therefore justified in taking steps to prevent schemes developed to get around the contribution limits.
The Court also rejected the argument that Congress had exceeded its authority to regulate elections under Article I, Section 4 of the Constitution. The Court found that the law only affected state elections in which federal candidates were involved and also that it did not prevent states from creating separate election laws for state and local elections.

In summary, a very limited and modest version of campaign-finance reform has been found to be constitutional, but it remains to be seen if further restrictions on political donations would pass the same test. In fact, it did not. In 2010, the US Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United v FEC that campaign contributions were protected under the 1st Amendment right to free speech.
Pork Barrel Spending and Corruption
“Pork” is used to describe Congressional spending that represents thinly-disguised favors and kickbacks for friends and supporters. Each year, Congress must approve a new budget to finance the workings of the U.S. government, and each year many congressmen add items to that budget which are of questionable merit.
Consider, for example, the famous “Bridge to Nowhere.” The bridge in Alaska would connect the town of Ketchikan (population 8,900) with its airport on the Island of Gravina (population 50) at a cost to federal taxpayers of $320 million, by way of three separate earmarks in a highway bill. At present, a ferry service runs to the island, but some in the town complain about its wait (15 to 30 minutes) and fee ($6 per car).
Congressional Staff
Each member of Congress is authorized to have a staff of professioinals working for them paid for by taxpayers. These staffers are usually young people or old-timiers with lots of experience. Each has a specific area of expertise that they keep abeast of for their member of Congress. As such, it is not likely that any bill, omnibus or otherwise, would come up for a vote, and the member of Congress not have a staffer who knows everything that is in it. So, where members of Congress come and go, some staffers persist for the long term ensuring corporate memery for Congress. Many famous people were once congressional staffers, to include Lawrence O’Donnell, George Tenet, and Chris Matthews.
Congress is the branch of government closest to the people. With eery Representative facing an election in two-year intervals, it is the first branch of government to feel the impact of popular will.
Paradoxically, Americans often hold Congress in low regard but then, in times of crisis, turn to Congress as a solution to solve pressing problems.

Top of Form

In Wartime, Who Has the Power?By JEFFREY ROSENPublished: March 4, 2007
The Constitution seems relatively clear. The president is the commander in chief, and he has the power to deploy troops and to direct military strategy. Congress has the power to declare war and can use its control over the purse to end a war. But it has no say over how the war is actually prosecuted.
That poses a problem for Congress, as it debates the course of the Iraq war. Democratic proposals to check President Bush’s increasing unpopular war range from Senator Barack Obama’s “phased redeployment” of all combat troops out of Iraq by March 3, 2008, to Representative John Murtha’s attempts to impose specific standards for the training and equipping of troops.
Regardless of how these proposals fare politically, they raise serious constitutional questions that could affect not only the conduct of the Iraq war, but also the balance of power between Congress and the president in wartime.
Legal scholars — both critics and supporters of the Iraq war — say that if Congress tries to manage the deployment and withdrawal of troops without cutting funds, the
president’s powers as commander in chief would be encroached, perhaps leading to a constitutional confrontation of historic proportions.
“If there were to be a binding resolution that said troops had to go from 120,000 to 80,000 by April 15, Congress would be, in my view, transgressing on the conduct of a military campaign,” says Samuel Issacharoff, a law professor at New York University. “Congress can’t tell the president to charge up the east side of the hill rather than the west, which is the definition of the president’s military authority.”
So how, exactly, can Congress assert power over the war, beyond its ability simply to pull the plug on its financing? History suggests that Congress has found ways of checking the president in the past without encroaching on his power as commander in chief. And, history suggests, as well, that neither side is that eager for a constitutional showdown.
There is little dispute that Congress could, if it had the political will, end the war in Iraq tomorrow by using its power over appropriations to cut off funds to the troops. “Congress could easily check the president,” says W. Taylor Reveley III, the dean of William and Mary School of Law and author of “War Powers of the President and Congress.”
“If Iraq continues to go badly or if it looks like the president might actually use force in Iran, I can easily see Congress passing something like the Cambodian or Vietnam spending cutoffs, which would force the setting of a timetable for withdrawal that was pretty brisk,” he said.
If Congress used its appropriations power in this way, even the most vigorous defenders of executive power agree, President Bush would have to acquiesce. “He would have to comply, and he would comply,” says John Yoo, the University of California at Berkeley law professor who, as a Bush administration official, defended the president’s authority to act unilaterally.
According to Professor Yoo, Congress could immediately cut funds, or could order a phased withdrawal by authorizing a fixed amount of money each month for specified numbers of troops.
“The idea that the funding tool is too blunt is a view held by people who have never worked in Congress,” he says. “It can be a scalpel as well as a baseball bat.”
The problem is not that Congress lacks the constitutional power to cut off funds, but that it may lack the political will to do so.
“I think it’s inconceivable that Congress will cut off appropriations, because no one wants to leave people on the field without support,” says Michael Gerhardt of the University of North Carolina Law School.
Congress, however, has other cudgels. During the War of 1812, Federalist critics of President James Madison forced the resignation of his secretary of war, and, decades later, the House passed a resolution censuring President James Polk for unconstitutionally beginning a war with Mexico.
During the Civil War, Congressional Republicans wanted Lincoln to fire Gen. George B. McClellan and prosecute the war more aggressively. But they never tried to control actual troop movements. Instead, Congress tried to shame the Union generals into fighting by hauling them repeatedly before Congressional committees.
“It bordered on harassment, and Lincoln resisted some of the excesses, but even then, Congress never tried to issue orders about the deployment of troops,” says Professor Issacharoff.
Congress, of course, could assert itself in similar ways today, according to Professor Gerhardt. “Congress is entitled to have oversight hearings to see how well things are going, and to figure out where we should go from here,” he says.
Changes in technology also make it easier for Congress to micromanage military decisions if it chooses to do so. “In the 19th century, simply to send a command and find out what happened in the battle took weeks,” says Professor Issacharoff. “So neither Congress nor the president could micromanage. Now you can have battlefield commanders in a speakerphone in the well of Congress — you could have 535 generals shouting instructions.”
Congress would also be perfectly competent to examine civil liberties questions, like the restoration of habeas corpus for detainees held at Guantánamo Bay. It could pass resolutions opposing the war effort over Republican opposition, as Democrats have proposed to do. It could demand compliance with international norms about how the war is conducted.
But let’s say Congress passed a binding resolution that reduced troop levels without actually cutting off funds. What then?
“What’s likely to happen is that Congress will assert its power, and the executive will resist through delay, redeployment of troops elsewhere or simply disregarding Congress,” Professor Issacharoff says. “It will never be presented to a court, because when both branches are involved in disputes about war and claim overlapping powers, the courts tend to back down.”
Dean Reveley agrees. “These disputes about the powers of the president and Congress in wartime are waged with almost theological passion and conviction and the Supreme Court rarely intervenes, which is why war powers are still so murky,” he says. “Every time we’ve gotten involved in an unpopular war, which has been all our wars except the two World Wars, there has been an enormous amount of bickering between the president and Congress when it didn’t come out the way we wanted. Sometimes presidents have acted, Congress said ‘Don’t do that,’ and the president acceded, as in Vietnam. But mostly Congress has stood on the sidelines and complained.”
In other words, a constitutional crisis may not be the inevitable outcome.
“I think this will be resolved politically, as it has been in the past, and either the president or Congress will back down,” Professor Issacharoff says. “My sense is that it’s more likely to be Congress, because nobody wants to assume responsibility for managing a disaster.”
Even if President Bush wins a constitutional confrontation, Congress may react by asserting its powers against future presidents. “Congress will be much more careful in the future about authorizing force without restrictions on presidential power,” says Jack Goldsmith of Harvard Law School. “Every action on each side tends to provoke a counterreaction, which is probably what James Madison wanted.”

Lesson 4: The Presidency
“Being a President is like riding a tiger. A man has to keep on riding or be swallowed.”-President Harry TrumanExpected Outcomes
To appreciate the process of becoming president; to understand the powers and constraints of the office; and to comprehend the logic and criticisms behind executive privilege and unitary executive theory.
Ironically, the United States was founded upon the rejection of one-person rule (the King of England), and yet Americans often expect so much of presidents, holding them accountable for the nation’s economic performance – when a president’s ability to influence the economy is extremely limited.
The presidency of the United States combines various domestic and international responsibilities, and in the age of nuclear weapons, the Oval Office of the White House office has been described as the most powerful office in the world, both in reality and symbolically. The president acts as the leader of the party, a chief legislator, chief diplomat, a Commander-in-Chief, and a crisis manager. In modern times, Franklin Delano Roosevelt best reflects the heightened profile of the presidency, as he led the nation through both the Great Depression and World War II.
It is possible to view the entire history of the United States through the window of the White House. The kinds of presidents the U.S. has experienced, with their personal and partisan orientations, have often reflected upon the country as a whole. Some presidential events – such as the assassination of John F. Kennedy – became a part of every Americans’ individual life story, and everyone who remembers that day also remembers exactly where he or she was when they learned of the assassination in Dallas.
It is useful to divide up American history into dominant themes, and to group presidents together who faced similar circumstances. It is important to know the succession of presidents from 1961 onwards, as well as their party affiliations (D) for Democratic and (R) for Republican.
Early Republic and the Formation of National Government 1789-1829
George Washington
John Adams
Thomas Jefferson
James Madison
James Monroe
John Quincy Adams
Jacksonian Democracy and Westward Expansion 1829-1853
Andrew Jackson
Martin Van Buren
William Harrison
John Tyler
James Polk
Zachary Taylor
Millard Fillmore
Sectional Conflict and Reconstruction 1853-1881
Franklin Pierce
James Buchanan
Abraham Lincoln
Andrew Johnson
Ulysses Grant
Rutherford Hayes
The Gilded Age, Industrialization and Urbanization 1881-1897
James Garfield
Chester Arthur
Grover Cleveland
Benjamin Harrison
Grover Cleveland
The Progressive Era and Becoming a World Power 1897-1921
William McKinley
Theodore Roosevelt
William Taft
Woodrow Wilson
The Great Depression & World Conflict 1921-1961
Warren Harding
Calvin Coolidge
Herbert Hoover
Franklin Roosevelt
Harry Truman
Dwight Eisenhower
Social Change & Soviet Relations 1961-1989
John Kennedy (D)
Lyndon Johnson (D)
Richard Nixon (R)
Gerald Ford (R)
Jimmy Carter (D)
Ronald Reagan (R)
Economic Globalization and Domestic Political Polarization 1989-
George H. W. Bush (R)
Bill Clinton (D)
George W. Bush (R)
Barack Obama (D)
While it is possible to categorize presidents in this way, it is also conceivable that there are political cycles of alternation between Democratic and Republican presidents. Political scientist Arthur Schlesinger, for example, proposed that there are national cycles between conservatism (a preference for order and tradition) and liberalism (a preference for change and personal liberty). Schlesinger further claimed that conservatism was about “private interest” and economic growth while liberalism was about “public purpose” and social responsibility. Presidents simply fit into these larger national movements. Most (but not all) Republicans advance private interest; and most (but not all) Democrats advance public purpose. This can be called the “Schlesinger cycle.”
Another political scientist, James Barber, considered the influence of a president’s personality on his performance in the White House. Barber found repeating patterns of common elements relating to character, worldview, style, approach to dealing with power, and expectations.
Based on these findings, Barber concluded that presidents were either “active” or “passive.” For example, John Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson were highly active; Calvin Coolidge and Ronald Reagan were highly passive. Interestingly enough, passive presidents often did better in approval ratings.
Barber also analyzed the emotional attitudes of presidents toward their work. Some presidents were “positive” and others were “negative.” Franklin Roosevelt and Reagan, for example, were presidents who enjoyed their work. FDR and Reagan left office with rather high approval ratings and were treated favorably by historians. However, Thomas Jefferson and Richard Nixon had negative feelings towards the job, with more mixed results.
Barber developed four repeating categories into which he was able to place all presidents: those like FDR who actively pursued their work and had positive feelings about their efforts (active/positives); those like Nixon who actively pursued the job but had negative feelings about it (active/negatives); those like Reagan who were passive about the job but enjoyed it (passive/positives); and, finally, those who followed the pattern of Thomas Jefferson — who both was passive and did not enjoy the work (passive/negatives).
Interestingly, the category of presidents who proved troublesome and unpopular under Barber’s analysis is that of those who turned out to be active/negative.
Barber placed Woodrow Wilson, Herbert Hoover, Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon in this class of active/negatives. Scholars taking up where Barber left off (Barber recently died) have classified Pres. George W. Bush as active/negative, perhaps one reason for the steady decline he experienced in his approval ratings over his years in office. Still other political scientists consider economic factors – such as the Stock Market – as critical in determining the overall performance and approval rating of a president. If true, a president’s personal characteristics have little to do with overall approval ratings. Clearly, the presidency is one of the most studied institutions in American government, and generations of political scientists have studied the presidency in order to better understand where then country has been where it is, and where it is going.
It is vital to an understanding of the presidency to consider written documents and first-hand texts from the presidents themselves. Below, two documents have been selected that attest to the power of the office: the first, by Andrew Jackson, led to the tragedy of the forced removal of Native Americans from their homelands; the second, by Abraham Lincoln, led to the formal freedom of African-Americans, who had been held in slavery.

Andrew Jackson’s Seventh Annual Message to Congress, ExcerptDecember 7, 1835
On Indian Removal
The plan of removing the aboriginal people who yet remain within the settled portions of the United States to the country west of the Mississippi River approaches its consummation… All preceding experiments for the improvement of the Indians have failed. It seems now to be an established fact they cannot live in contact with a civilized community and prosper. Ages of fruitless endeavors have at length brought us to knowledge of this principle of intercommunication with them… Many have already removed and others are preparing to go, and with the exception of two small bands living in Ohio and Indiana, not exceeding 1,500 persons, and of the Cherokees, all the tribes on the east side of the Mississippi, and extending from Lake Michigan to Florida, have entered into engagements which will lead to their transplantation.
The plan for their removal and reestablishment is founded upon the knowledge we have gained of their character and habits, and has been dictated by a spirit of enlarged liberality.
Such are the arrangements for the physical comfort and for the moral improvement of the Indians. The necessary measures for their political advancement and for their separation from our citizens have not been neglected. The pledge of the United States has been given by Congress that the country destined for the residence of this people shall be forever “secured and guaranteed to them.” A country west of Missouri and Arkansas has been assigned to them, into which the white settlements are not to be pushed…


Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, Excerpts
January 1, 1863That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.“That the Executive will, on the first day of January aforesaid, by proclamation, designate the States and parts of States, if any, in which the people thereof, respectively, shall then be in rebellion against the United States; and the fact that any State, or the people thereof, shall on that day be, in good faith, represented in the Congress of the United States by members chosen thereto at elections wherein a majority of the qualified voters of such State shall have participated, shall, in the absence of strong countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive evidence that such State, and the people thereof, are not then in rebellion against the United States.”
Now, therefore I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested as Commander-in-Chief, of the Army and Navy of the United States in time of actual armed rebellion against the authority and government of the United States, and as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion, do, on this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and in accordance with my purpose so to do publicly proclaimed for the full period of one hundred days, from the day first above mentioned, order and designate as the States and parts of States wherein the people thereof respectively, are this day in rebellion against the United States, the following, to wit:
Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, (except the Parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James Ascension, Assumption, Terrebonne, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the City of New Orleans) Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, (except the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkley, Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Ann, and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth), and which excepted parts, are for the present, left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued.
And by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.
And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defense; and I recommend to them that, in all cases when allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages.
And I further declare and make known, that such persons of suitable condition, will be received into the armed service of the United States to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service.
And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God. In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington, this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty three, and of the Independence of the United States of America.

Audio/Video Archives
Modern presidents provide political scientists and historians with a more complete picture of their presidencies. Their speeches were often recorded on tape, and their actions were also captured on film and video, sometimes to their dismay.
The links below are windows into the modern presidency during important turning points, during key moment in time. It is important to visit each link. However, due to the length of some lengths, do not feel that you must listen or watch the entire piece. Some presidents might gain your attention more than others. You might consider leaving these windows open while continuing to read the text in this unit.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt: Fireside Chat, 1940 (Video)
Dwight Eisenhower: Warning of “Military-Industrial Complex,” 1961 (Audio)
John F. Kennedy: Inaugural Address, 1961 (Video)
Lyndon Baines Johnson: Report on Vietnam and Decision Not to Seek Re-Election, 1968 (Audio) – Note: Scroll to the very end to hear his decision.
Richard Nixon: Remarks on Departure from White House, 1974
Jimmy Carter, Inaugural Address, 1979 (Video)
Ronald Reagan: First Inaugural Address, 1981 (Video)
Remarks on Soviet “Evil Empire” (Audio/Real Player)
George H. W. Bush: Announcing Ground War Against Iraq, 1991 (Video)
Bill Clinton: Remarks on Impeachment, 1998 (Audio)
George W. Bush: “With us or against us” speech, 2001
George W. Bush: “With us or against us” speech, 2001 Part 2
It is time to examine more closely the office of the Presidency as outlined by the U.S. Constitution.
Scope and Limits of Executive Power
The Presidency of the United States, which constitutes the Executive Branch of government, is described in Article II of the Constitution, and Section 1 is largely concerned with the requirements of the office.

Section 1 – The PresidentNo person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

Section 2 outlines his basic powers and responsibilities, which include being “Commander in Chief.”
Some constitutional scholars claim that congressional “authorization” of the use of force with a “joint resolution” does not meet the standard of a full vote to declare war as outlined by the Constitution. (The U.S. has not “declared war” since Pearl Harbor during World War II nor is likely to any time in the future.)
Maintaining civilian control over the military is an important feature of a democratic republic, and it further maintains a clear line of authority and hierarchy during a conflict.

Section 2 – Civilian Power over Military, Cabinet, Pardon Power, AppointmentsThe President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to Grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offenses against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.
He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.
The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.

Section 3 includes that the president must give updates on the “State of the Union” to Congress – without specifying how often. Tradition now compels the President to give an annual speech in January or February.

Section 3 – State of the Union, Convening CongressHe shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.

Section 4 explains the conditions for removing a president from office – for “impeachment.” Complete removal from the office requires an impeachment by the House of Representatives and a conviction in a trial by the Senate.

Section 4 – DisqualificationThe President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

After FDR’s long tenure as president, the Republican Congress sponsored a constitutional amendment (ratified by more than 3/4ths of the states) to prevent any other president from installing himself in the White House for decades, perpetually getting re-elected to 4-year terms.

Amendment XXIISection 1. No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once.

The above information describes the clear and incontrovertible duties and responsibilities of the presidency. Over time, many of these duties and responsibilities have been compartmentalized. At first, there was only the Department of State and Treasury, but American government became more complex over time, and today the president’s cabinet includes the following:
The White House Administration, The Cabinet
The structure and process behind much of the Executive Branch is fairly established. There are other areas of presidential power, however, which have traditionally been subject to debate.
Controversies Regarding the Executive Branch
The presidency is central to the debate surrounding the separation of powers. To what extent can a president act without congressional oversight? Can a president deploy troops overseas without a congressional declaration of, or authorization for, war? What should be the threshold for removing a president from office, or impeachment?
Executive Privilege and Impeachments
The pressures of the presidency visit upon all its occupants – Democrats and Republicans. Sometimes, personal and political situations emerge that test the limits of the constitution. For most Americans over the age of 40, the Watergate scandal remains one of the most memorable events of American politics. Beforehand, the public and the press had an enormous amount of respect for the office of the president; afterwards, there was much less. More importantly, the Watergate scandal raised all kinds of constitutional questions. First, we must examine the timeline of the scandal itself. President Richard Nixon had always been a controversial figure. As a politician, he had been close to Eugene McCarthy during the interrogation of suspected communists (almost none turned out to be real communists) in the hearings of the House Un-American Activities Committee. Richard Nixon had also stood in stark contrast to his democratic challengers, especially to George McGovern, the democratic candidate for president in 1972. Nixon was portrayed as a tougher, law-and-order president, a hawk who would not capitulate to Communist China, the Soviet Union or Vietnam. After running on a “peace with honor” campaign to end the Vietnam War, President Nixon and his Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger, actually expanded the war by heavily bombing Cambodia, with disastrous results as it turned out (as the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime rose out of the ashes). The Nixon-Kissinger foreign policy was extremely controversial both at home and abroad.
The 1972 election for president was a heated one. The Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP) apparently decided to “get the dirt” on the Democratic candidate, George McGovern, possibly exposing his psychological profile (back then, few people went to therapy, so those that did were suspect).
CREEP hired five men to burglarize the Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate Complex on June 17, 1972, but they were caught. President Nixon’s subsequent behavior – his cover-up of the burglary and refusal to turn over evidence – led to Congressional hearings. Congress demanded that Nixon turn over hours of secretly-recorded tapes. Nixon refused, citing “executive privilege.” This means that, especially according to presidents, the executive branch is immune to certain encroachments by Congress and the judiciary – particularly when the president has to protect national security. According to President Nixon, “Under the doctrine of the separation of powers, the manner in which the president personally exercises his assigned executive powers is not subject to questioning by another branch of government.”
President Nixon and Congress came head to head. The issue went before the Supreme Court in United States v. Nixon (1974). Nixon lost in an 8 – 0 decision (William Rehnquist, a close friend of Nixon and recently appointed to the Court, abstained).

US v. Nixon (1974)Question
Is the President’s right to safeguard certain information, using his “executive privilege” confidentiality power, entirely immune from judicial review?
No. The Court held that neither the doctrine of separation of powers, nor the generalized need for confidentiality of high-level communications, without more, can sustain an absolute, unqualified, presidential privilege. The Court granted that there was a limited executive privilege in areas of military or diplomatic affairs, but gave preference to “the fundamental demands of due process of law in the fair administration of justice.” Therefore, the president must obey the subpoena and produce the tapes and documents. Nixon resigned shortly after the release of the tapes.

Chief Justice Burger delivered the opinion:
“Absent a claim of need to protect military, diplomatic, or sensitive national security secrets, we find it difficult to accept the argument that even the very important interest in confidentiality of Presidential communications is significantly diminished by production of such material for in camera inspection with all the protection that a district court will be obliged to provide…”
A week after Nixon lost the case, the House Judiciary Committee to issue three articles of impeachment on July 30, 1974. The document indicted Nixon for illegal wiretapping, misuse of the CIA, perjury, bribery, obstruction of justice, and other abuses of executive power.
“In all of this,” the Articles of Impeachment summarize, “Richard M. Nixon has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as president and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice, and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States.” Impeachment appeared inevitable, and Nixon resigned beforehand on Aug. 9, 1974.
Impeachment had also appeared inevitable a century earlier, in 1868, when the United States House of Representatives issued eleven articles of impeachment against President Andrew Johnson for “high crimes and misdemeanors.” Why?
The reasons were mostly political. Johnson had not supported the Radical Republicans and their reconstruction plan for the South. Congress tried to reduce his power through the Command of Army and Tenure of Office Acts. In 1868, Johnson was accused of violating the Tenure of Office Act and was impeached by the House. At the Senate trial he was acquitted by one vote.
Another president, Bill Clinton, was impeached in 1998, when the House Judiciary Committee introduced four articles of impeachment, two of which were approved by the entire House. The Senate did not convict Clinton, however, and he remained in office.
How did this crisis come to be? Monica Lewinsky was a White House intern who became romantically involved with President Clinton. Lewinsky recounted a sexual involvement with President Clinton to Linda Tripp, who was recording these conversations (unknowingly to Lewinsky). Tripp later turned over the tapes to Kenneth Starr, an independent prosecutor.
Clinton denied having sexual intercourse with Lewinsky while under oath in an unrelated trial. In a nationally televised clip from a White House news conference, Clinton claimed “I did not have sexual relations with that woman, Miss Lewinsky.” However, there was some evidence that the Clinton-Lewinsky affair did involve some kind of sexual activity, which led to the perjury charge.
Under pressure from Starr, and in light of a dress owned by Lewinsky with Clinton’s DNA on it, Clinton apologized for misleading the American people. Clinton was impeached by the House of Representatives for perjury, but he was not removed from office by the Senate – even though it was controlled by Republicans. President Clinton’s impeachment case also raised questions for the popular culture: Should a president’s private life be part of his public life? Some people think that how a president behaves in his private life has direct implication for how he comports himself as president. Others feel that what happens behind closed doors should not matter in terms of public or political life.
In short, just two presidents were impeached by the House (but, not convicted by the Senate), and just one was on the verge of impeachment (President Richard Nixon), when he resigned.
After all, it is difficult to carry out a complete impeachment and conviction. Removing a president from office requires two steps:

  • A formal accusation, or impeachment, by the House of Representatives.
  • A trial and conviction by the Senate. Impeachment requires a majority vote of the House; conviction is more difficult, requiring a two-thirds vote by the Senate.

In any case, that the House of Representatives impeached President Clinton for perjury relating to a sexual matter certainly lowered the cultural and political threshold for impeachment.
Unitary Executive Theory
President George W. Bush has raised several constitutional questions regarding presidential authority. After 9/11, Congress granted the president the power to punish those responsible for the attacks. It passed a Joint Resolution to enable the president to fight the War on Terror.
Three controversies have emerged, however. Was this Authorization broad enough – or are the powers of the executive branch wide enough – to allow President Bush to do the following:

  • Detain terror suspects for an unlimited period, in Guantanamo for instance, without formal charges?
  • Operate secret jails in foreign countries?
  • Extradite terror suspects to countries knowing the suspects will be tortured?
  • Conduct electronic surveillance of Americans without a warrant?

The Bush administration cited the principles of Unitary Executive Theory, and said yes, despite what members of Congress said, the president’s wartime powers granted him that authority. Besides, from 2001 to 2006, the Congress was firmly behind President Bush’s policies, even passing the Military Commissions Act making it easier to suspend habeas corpus (where the government must account for a person’s detention) in the event of a national emergency.
Bush administration officials and their supporters also pointed out that the war on terror necessarily involved strategies and practices that did not have to be employed in previous wars, before the threat of terrorism.
Lastly, many conservatives point out that no new terrorist attacks have taken place on American soil since 9/11, which may have attributed to the strong leadership exercised by the president.
Unitary Executive Theory is more than a political fashion, however. Supreme Court Justices Samuel Alito and John Roberts, among others, are widely considered to be principle backers of Unitary Executive Theory. The theory relies on the Vesting Clause of Article II which states “The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.” Proponents of a unitary executive use this language along with the Take Care Clause: “[The President] shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed…” to argue that the Constitution creates a “hierarchical, unified executive department under the direct control of the President.”
Unitary Executive Theory argues for strict limits to the power of Congress to divest the President of control of the Executive Branch – especially during wartime. Proponents of the theory argue that the president possesses all of the executive power, and can therefore control subordinate officers and agencies of the executive branch.
President Bush exercised his powers under this theory, first and foremost, by directing the Pentagon and intelligence agencies to conduct detentions and domestic surveillance in manners that they had not before – and without congressional oversight. Second, President Bush issued many “signing statements” to laws passed by Congress. Past presidents issued such statements to indicate their reservation to the laws (without vetoing them), but the Bush administration made it clear that it reserved the right not to adhere to the letter of the law as stated. There was an ongoing controversy concerning the extensive use of signing statements to modify the meaning of laws. The Bush administration defended their interpretation of “signing statements” while the American Bar Association described them as “contrary to the rule of law and our constitutional system of separation of powers. ”The American Civil Liberties Union and People for the American Way have also been opposed to the Bush administration’s interpretation of its own powers. Finally, prominent writers like Bob Woodward, a Washington Post reporter who broke the Watergate story, condemned the Bush administration as resurrecting the authoritarian “Imperial Presidency” of the Nixon era.
Critics of the Bush administration argued that there are no real constitutional or historical grounds for concentrating so much power into the hands of a president, even in a time of war (although President Abraham Lincoln did centralize power around the White House during the Civil War and suspended habeas corpus several times). The possibility of excessive executive power is deeply emotional because it resurrects what some Americans see as a basic instinct to counter tyranny (stemming from the American Revolution of 1776). As a result, many of the objections to Unitary Executive Theory tend to be rather strident.
Again, defenders of the Bush administration point to both the Vesting Clause in the Constitution and to the new realities of the War on terror. Unitary Executive Theory will continue to be controversial, reflecting the complex relationship Americans have with the here for more information on this paper
Perhaps Americans are unrealistic in their attitudes regarding the presidency. Many people expect too much from a president, and this invariably leads to disappointment. Many people are also quick to blame a president when things go badly – especially the economy, which is almost completely beyond any president’s influence. Yet, the presidency is a good barometer of the mood of the country. Who becomes president – and why – says a lot about the historic direction of the nation. It is fitting to conclude with a portrait of an American President: Teddy Roosevelt, one of the few men larger than the office of the presidency.
Teddy Roosevelt was President of the United States from 1901 to 1909, and he was a complex figure. He was a “progressive” Republican who put Main Street before Wall Street, an explorer of the Dakota Badlands, a cowboy and a “rough rider” who led a charge up San Juan Hill during the Spanish-American War. He was also a Police Commissioner in New York City – and yet he was comfortable in the highest intellectual circles. In fact, with a photographic memory, Teddy Roosevelt could read a poem in French and, years later, repeat it back to you. He devoured several books a day.
Teddy Roosevelt oversaw the greatest engineering feat of mankind, the Panama Canal. His trip to Panama was the first trip abroad for a U.S. president in office. And yet, he knew that to build the canal also meant compromising on some of America’s ideals, and he pursued a policy of “gunboat diplomacy” in Latin America. “Speak softly and carry a big stick,” he said. Ironically, but deservedly, Teddy Roosevelt was the first American to be awarded the Nobel Prize, winning its Peace Prize in 1906, for negotiating the peace in the Russo-Japanese War. Oddly, Teddy Roosevelt was only 5 feet 8 inches tall, but in real life and in photographs he seemed big. A larger than life figure, Roosevelt overcame immense personal challenges. His mother and his wife died on the same day – only two days after the birth of his first child.

Famous Quotes by Teddy Roosevelt“A man who has never gone to school may steal from a freight car; but if he has a university education, he may steal the whole railroad.”
“A thorough knowledge of the Bible is worth more than a college education.”
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
“I took the Canal Zone and let Congress debate; and while the debate goes on, the canal does also.”
“We can have no “50-50” allegiance in this country. Either a man is an American and nothing else, or he is not an American at all.”
“Speak softly and carry a big stick.”
“No man is above the law, and no man is below it.”
“To announce that there must be no criticism of the president, or that we are to stand by the president, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.”
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