United States Constitution

PREAMBLE : We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution



Article II, Section 3

Text of Article 2, Section 3:
He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.
The 'Travis Translation' of Article 2, Section 3:
The President will tell Congress how the country is doing in a “State of the Union” speech from time to time. The President will also give Congress ideas about how to get things done; and the President can meet with Congress anytime it is really important. If the Congress cannot agree on when Congress is finished working for the year, the President can dismiss them until a time the President thinks is fair. The President will welcome Ambassadors or government representatives from other countries; the President is in charge of making sure that the laws are carried out fairly; and the President empowers all the officers of the United States.
Faithful Execution of the Laws Important Cases
Section 3 outlines the responsibilities of the President. Most of the portions of this section are straightforward and do not have significant Supreme Court precedents dealing with them. The President must provide a State of the Union address to discuss the condition of the country. It is the duty of the President to make recommendations to Congress, on behalf of the public, as to what laws should be passed. In the event of an emergency, the President can call Congress into session. The President also must receive and meet with foreign dignitaries and ambassadors. Additionally, the President may commission officers in the military and foreign services.

The main responsibility of the President is to faithfully execute the laws passed by Congress. This means that it is the Executive’s sole responsibility to enforce the law, and they must do so as exactly as Congress has detailed in law. In Clinton v. City of New York, the Court held that “line-item” vetoes were unconstitutional. These vetoes allowed the President to cancel certain portions of budget bills while allowing the remainder of the bill to pass. The Court ruled this was unconstitutional because it let the President change the law that Congress had already passed. This was viewed as an unconstitutional expansion of the power of the Executive, whose role was solely to carry out the laws rather than change them.

In Printz v. The United States, the Brady Handgun Prevent bill was struck down as unconstitutional because it forced state officials – local police officers – to enforce a federal regulatory scheme. The Court listed various reasons for striking down the bill, one of which was the role of the Executive as the only branch responsible for executing the law. Justice Scalia, writing for the majority, stated “The Constitution does not leave to speculation who is to administer the laws enacted by Congress; the President, it says, “shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.”

The President cannot alter how the law is to be implemented when specific instructions have been provided by Congress. This was affirmed recently in the 2014 decision Utility Air Regulatory Group v. E.P.A., where the Court held that the EPA had over-stepped its authority in changing certain limits in a statute to make the law more workable. Determining that the language in the law was clear, the Court held that the agency could not change the limits in the law. The Executive branch did not have the power to change the law once passed, even if it wasn’t working well in practice.

 Clinton v. City of New York (1998)

Printz v. US (1997)

Utility Regulatory Air Group v. Environmental Protection Agency