October 9, 2023 | SCOTUS Upholds Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act in Alabama Redistricting Case
|Clause 1: Vesting Clause and Inherent Executive Power||Important Cases|
|Section 1 generally outlines the form of the executive branch and how someone becomes president. The first clause is a vesting clause, which gives the President the power of the Executive. The extent of this power, however, has proven controversial from the era of the Founding Fathers up to today. Unlike the vesting clause in Article I, Article II’s clause does not use the words “herein granted” when describing Presidential powers. Some, like Alexander Hamilton, believed that this wording meant the executive branch had “inherent” powers that were not specifically outlined in the Constitution. Others, like James Madison, believed that the powers of the President were expressly determined by the Constitution. The tension between these two doctrines has played out throughout history between the Executive branch and the Court.|
One of the most important decisions addressing this issue of inherent presidential power is Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer. During the Korean War, steel workers threatened to go on strike due. President Truman seized the steel mills and operated them under the government in order to keep up production for the war effort. The steel mill owners sued, and the government argued that the President had the inherent power to seize the mills in order to prevent a “national catastrophe.”
The Supreme Court disagreed with the government’s position, holding that the seizure of the mills exceeded the President’s power by a 6-3 vote. Seven different opinions were written, with several differing explanations for the decision being provided.
Justice Black wrote the majority opinion, which took an absolutist position: there was no inherent power, the President was limited to powers expressly written in the Constitution or provided via law by Congress.
Justice Douglass adopted an “interstitial” approach: the President could act outside the express words of the Constitution or statute as long as the powers did not take or infringe upon the other branches. Since Congress was already allowed to seize and pay for property, taking the mills would have been more suited for the Legislative branch.
Justice Jackson, in an influential concurring opinion, expressed his belief that the President could act as long as the action wasn’t forbidden by the Constitution or statute. Since Congress had expressly denied the President the ability to seize the factories with earlier legislation, he could not assume that power. The most enduring section of Jackson’s concurrence ranks three different situations where the President’s power to act differs. When the President acts directly under Congressional approval, his powers are at his strongest. When the President acts in a way not expressly allowed or rejected by Congress, the specific circumstances will determine the constitutionality on a case by case basis. Finally, when the President acts incompatibly with Congress, his powers are at the lowest and will only be allowed if Congress’s law is unconstitutional.
The last stance, expressed in the dissent, is that of Chief Justice Vinson: broad inherent authority. This belief had since been important on issues of the President’s powers to conduct foreign relations, rather than internally.
|Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer (1952)|
|Clauses 2, 3, 4: Presidential Elections||Important Cases|
|The second and third clauses deal with the Electoral College and the means by which the President is elected. The Twelfth Amendment made significant changes to this procedure.|
The fourth clause states Congress can determine the timing of choosing electors. Although the federal government can choose the time when electors must be chosen and give their votes, the Constitutional power to determine the manner in which they are chosen resides with the states.
|Clause 5: Eligibility for Presidency||Important Cases|
|The fifth clause determine the eligibility of a person to run for President. The Supreme Court has held that naturalized citizens are the same as native citizens except in on regard: naturalized citizens may not run for President.|
|Clause 6: Succession||Important Cases|
|The sixth clause outlines the path of succession in the event that the President dies or is removed from office. Initially there was some debate as to whether when the President was removed, the Vice President became the new president, or rather was simply an “acting” president in the meantime. This was settled when President Harrison died in office and his Vice-President Tyler was sworn in as President, starting a tradition for all future succeeding Vice Presidents.|
|Clause 7: Salary, Clause 8: Oath||Important Cases|
|The last two clauses are very straight forward, determining how the President is paid and the oath which he must take before assuming the job.|