Executive Orders, Put Simply

Executive orders, often controversial, but not uncommon. Since 1789, more than 13,000 executive orders have been issued in total, being utilised by every President from George Washington to Donald Trump….but what are executive orders, and how do they work?

An executive order is “an order a rule or order issued by the president to an executive branch of the government and having the force of law.”

Although the United States Constitution does not specifically permit the President of the United States the right to issue executive orders; Article II of the Constitution does grant to the President, “executive power”, this quite ambiguous phrase has been interpreted by Presidents through history to be the creation of the right to issue executive orders.

There are many reasons for executive orders to be created, but one of the most prominent is to ensure that a law, which may not pass Congress, is enacted. This is one of the reasons that executive orders are often so controversial; they are utilised to pass controversial laws.

Congress has no legal avenue to reverse an executive order they dislike, only the judiciary has the power to perform such an action. Three examples of this are

1. Truman’s 1952 order, preventing strikes during the Korean War by placing all of America’s steel mills under federal law.

2. Clinton’s 1995 order, preventing the federal government from entering into contracts with companies/businesses that hire replacements for workers on strike.

3. Trump’s travel ban on individuals from certain Middle Eastern countries was rejected, and hence paused, recently by federal judges.

There is only one other way for an executive order to be reversed, an avenue that again lies in the White House’s corridors of power. A new administration can legally scrap any executive order of a previous administration.

There is no doubt that executive orders will continue to be controversial, but there is also no doubt that they will continue to be a part of American politics for many years to come.

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