Executive Orders

by JASON | 8:30 AM in |

Executive orders are presidential proclamations or directives that have the force of law without prior congressional approval.

No constitutional basis exists for any president to legislate or make laws through executive orders.

What began as a narrow use of executive orders under extreme national crises has grown into executive discretion bordering on dictatorial powers." This growth in executive discretion is largely due to Congress' reluctance to exercise its legislative responsibilities. Congress has delegated broad discretionary authority in the name of flexibility, effectiveness or efficiency." Because of its neglect, the president has rarely been held accountable for his orders. In the words of Justice J. Jackson in Youngstown v. Sawyer: "We may say that power to legislate · belongs in the hands of Congress, but only Congress itself can prevent power from slipping through its fingers."4

Now, with the "stroke of the pen," an executive order effectively becomes the "law of the land." While some executive orders are appropriate uses of presidential authority, others violate the Constitution and threaten our civil liberties.

Congress must either abolish or amend the National Emergencies Act of 1976." It must hold the president accountable for his actions." Ultimately, we must all step up to the plate." "If we are to be saved from the autocracy that follows [the abuse of presidential power], Congress, the states and the courts must perform their duties under our system of divided and separated powers," said William J. Olsen and Alan Woll.47" Otherwise, in the words of Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Maryland), "We'll need another revolution."48