Government Section 3.0


Explain the powers of the president and how they have grown over time.


Today's presidents have a lot more power than past presidents. This may be because presidents have assumed inherent powers. Powers that the presidents claim but are not in the Constitution are called inherent powers.

For example, in 1803 when Thomas Jefferson decided to purchase the Louisiana Territory, although nothing in the Constitution gave him this power. Jefferson argued that this power was attached to the office, and the Senate agreed with him and ratified the Louisiana Purchase treaty.

Theodore Roosevelt expressed the broad view of presidential power, explaining it was both the president's right and duty to "do anything that the needs of the Nation demanded, unless such action was forbidden by the Constitution or by the laws.

"I have used every ounce of power there was in the office and I have not cared a rap for the criticisms of those who spoke of the 'ursurpatuon of power' .... I believe that the efficiency of this Government depends upon its possessing a strong central executive...." Theodore Roosevelt (1908)

The powers of the president are defined in Article II of the Constitution. This states that the executive power is vested in a president. It also states certain powers of the president, such as the power to execute laws, veto legislation, command the military, and engage and communicate with foreign leaders. With Senate approval, the president can make treaties with foreign nations and appoint ambassadors and federal judges.

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