For year we have heard debate about the President and his power of the Executive Order. Sometimes it is about how many each President has issued and other times, and more importantly, it’s what the order was that was issued.
The most recent ruckus came recently when President Obama stated he would issue an executive order granting amnesty to illegal immigrants. This would be an unconstitutional Executive Order which we will explore as learn about the power of the Executive Order.
While there is no official definition of “Executive Order” in the Constitution, the principle comes from Article II Section 3 of the US Constitution which states “he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed” in part of the Presidents defined responsibilities. In other words, it is the President’s job to ensure the laws passed by Congress are followed. So the concept of Executive Order comes from any orders or actions taken by the President to enforce the law.
Executive orders can be composed of a variety of things from a simple internal notice/memo, a change in internal policies, or ordering an investigation. There is a great variety of possibilities but the important key is that Executive Orders are for the purpose of ensuring the “Faithful” execution of the law. While a common rebuttal to a potential illegal Executive Order is ” Well this President issued far more than this other President”, the number is really not important, ensuring that they are for the purpose of ensuring the laws are enforced is. Any numbers argument is usually a good sign that the order in question is not entirely legal and that they are trying to redirect from the issue.
Take Obama’s plans for an Executive Order that will grant amnesty to millions of illegal immigrants. Ignoring your individual opinion on immigration, the current law is that these people are in the country illegally and are therefore criminals according to the laws passed by Congress. How can the President issue amnesty then? This not in line with the Constitutional responsibility, it is in opposition of it! Any such Executive Order would therefore be illegal and outside of his Presidential authority. This is why it is such a hot topic and a big reason for concern. The law needs to be followed consistently to have any meaning. We can not decide, even if you are the President, which laws are real and which are not.
This is yet another example of why understanding the Constitution is so important. By reading and knowing what is in it we can quickly understand why the President has, yet again, reached beyond his authority by using the power of Executive Order.