Ken Gormley - The Presidents and the Constitution

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The framers of this nation created a document with no parallel in world history, with the intent that the president of the United States would be neither a king or a sovereign, but the servant and protector of a higher authority: the Constitution. However, one cannot expect a document containing only 4543 words to cover the entire spectrum of government. Regarding the presidency's powers and responsibilities, it actually has little to say, and (let's be honest here) part of its language is not quite clear. Therefore, some of the contours of this high office had to be sketched out in real time, evolving as each presidency understood and applied it. Every chapter in this book was written by a different scholar with the purpose of highlighting the interactions of the commander in chief and the other two branches of government, Congress and the a Supreme Court, as prescribed in the Constitution. You may be surprised to find out that the distinction of powers is at times blurry and difficult to distinguish. For instance, only Congress can declare war but the president is the commander in chief of the armed forces. Who then has ultimate control of the military The Commerce Clause gives Congress broad powers, but does not implicitly denies the president from launching legislative initiatives himself. The Supreme Court has the final say on whether a law is constitutional or not, but is up to the president whether to enforce it or not. The Constitution gives the president veto powers, but does not specify if that power is limitless; it also sets a presidential term of four years and no more, but is silent about the amount of reelections a president is allowed; it declares that in case the president cannot fulfill his duties the Vice President would take his place, but does not specify if the Vice President is supposed to actually become the new president or if he just takes the duties without the office until a new one is elected. All of these things and more had to be duked out in the course of time. Court decisions, Congressional laws, and Presidential policies have enriched the Constitution, leaving behind a legacy that will continue to shape the direction of this great nation.


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