Presidential Executive Orders (U.S.)

Our Founders fought a Revolution and wrote a Constitution so America would never be a nation where one person had all the power.” – Hillary Clinton.

Donald Trump has signed a heap of executive orders since he was sworn in as President of the United States on the 20th of January this year.

        A lot of people think that the President is the most powerful man in the world. But the fact is, he doesn’t act alone. He is only one cog in the machine of U.S. government, and this is for a very good reason. After the American Revolution ended in 1783, the Founding Fathers set about creating a new government for the newly independent country. They did not want to have a monarch who wielded all the power. Instead, they wanted to have a fair but strong government that protected the freedom of the people and didn’t abuse its power. The U.S. Constitution, adopted in 1787, called for three separate branches of government: the executive branch (the President and Vice President), the legislative branch (Congress), and the judicial branch (the court system). Each branch has their own powers as well as a system of checks and balances which ensures that none of them become too powerful. The three branches work together to run the country and set guidelines for Americans to live by.

        Executive orders are issued by the president. According to the National Constitution Centre, executive orders basically have the same power as a federal law and are legally binding. It’s important to remember, though, that executive orders aren’t a way for a President to create a new law. Creating new laws is the job of the Congress. Instead, they’re a way for him to tell federal agencies how to carry out the laws already set by Congress. An example of this was Trump’s executive order telling the Department of Homeland Security to deny people from seven Muslim-majority countries entry into the United States.

        Another important thing to remember is that executive orders can be overturned by the courts (the judicial branch). Bill Clinton signed an executive order in 1995 which would have prohibited employers from hiring permanent replacements for workers who were on strike, but it was overturned because the courts deemed that it conflicted with an already-existing piece of legislation. Similarly, Harry Truman issued an executive order in 1952 to seize control of steel mills, but it was deemed unconstitutional by the Supreme Court and was thus overturned. Congress can also neutralise an executive order. Trump’s executive order to build his wall along the Mexican border will result in nothing if Congress ends up not approving the funding for it. On top of all this, a new president can easily revoke a past executive order with an executive order of their own. This was seen when Barack Obama issued an executive order early in his presidency that revoked George W. Bush’s order to block stem cell research.

        So, Trump might keep on issuing executive orders, but not all of them will take effect.


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