This post on Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution is part 14 of a series that will make more sense if it is read in order. If you haven’t read the earlier posts in this series, please click here to start with the first one. One reason I’ve broken this series into fairly small parts is that we have a tendency to rush through reading the Constitution and miss a lot of it. I hope the readers of this series will ponder the points in each session. I also hope you will comment on each post as we go along.
Throughout this series on the Constitution, my comments will be in black normal font, and the text of the document will be in this color and italicized.
SECTION 2. 1 The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.
This paragraph outlines the basic powers of the President. This very specifically authorizes him to head our defense forces, to run various executive departments, and to issue pardons and reprieves. It is noteworthy that nothing is said empowering him to take money from one group of citizens to give to another group, or to interfere with the nation’s commerce in the name of ecology, or to take money from the taxpayers and redirect it to state and local governments that cooperate with his pet projects, or a lot of other things the executive branch of our federal government has weaseled its way into doing.
2 He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.
This paragraph authorizes the President—with the concurrence of the Senate—to represent our nation in dealing with foreign governments by making treaties with them, as well as to make certain appointments. Again, the wording is noteworthy. It does not authorize the President to make treaties of his own accord without the approval of the Senate, as our current President has done, or to open our borders for all manner of potential terrorists to enter at will.
3 The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.
This paragraph gives the President emergency appointment powers in the event vacancies arise when Congress is not in session, but such appointments are temporary unless the Senate approves them when Congress next comes into session. This isw intended to provide continuity in the event of vacancies at times when it is not possible to receive the Senate’s concurrence and is not intended as a way to avoid the will of the Senate.
Benjamin Franklin, exiting Constitutional Convention:
“We’ve given you a republic, if you can keep it.”
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