Executive Power

Executive Power

This unit in the No. 86 video series explores a host of questions relating to the scope of Executive Power, from the time of the Founding to modern-day debates on that question.

The lack of an Executive was a key weakness of the Articles of Confederation, but our Framers, knowing the danger of executive power as exercised by King George III, were reluctant to vest too much power in one office. What were their biggest fears?  How does the American Executive borrow and break from the power of the King of England?

We have heard of the impious doctrine in the old world, that the people were made for kings, not kings for the people. Is the same doctrine to be revived in the new, in another shape…?

-Federalist No. 45

This unit also explores the core purpose and function of the Executive, including how the power of the President fits into the separation of powers.

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9 of 13: Can a President Choose to Not Enforce the Law? [No. 86]

The Constitution says "The President shall take care that the laws are faithfully executed." Professor Saikrishna Prakash explains that this means the President does get to choose whether or not to enforce the law, as passed by Congress. However, dif ... The Constitution says "The President shall take care that the laws are faithfully executed." Professor Saikrishna Prakash explains that this means the President does get to choose whether or not to enforce the law, as passed by Congress. However, difficulties arise if a President thinks a law is unconstitutional or simply doesn’t like a law. The President is required to execute the law to the best of his ability although he does have some discretion over how he allocates time and resources to do so.

Professor Saikrishna Prakash is the James Monroe Distinguished Professor of Law and Paul G. Mahoney Research Professor of Law at the University of Virginia School of Law. Professor Prakash’s scholarship focuses on separation of powers, particularly executive powers. He teaches Constitutional Law, Foreign Relations Law and Presidential Powers.

As always, the Federalist Society takes no position on particular legal or public policy issues; all expressions of opinion are those of the speaker.

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