How the President Checks Power
SEPARAT ION OF POWERS
The Executive Branch In establishing the office of President of the United States, the founders had no precise models to follow. The earliest American executive, the colonial governor, had come to be regarded as the enemy of liberty, and the reigning British monarch, King George III, as a symbol of tyranny. In developing the role of a new national executive, the founders were influenced by political writers such as John Locke, Montesquieu and Sir William Blackstone. All three theorists advocated a systemwith separate executive, legislative and judicial branches of government. Montesquieu also advocated for permitting each branch to exert “checks and balances” against the others. ❝ WOODROW WI LSON , PRES IDENT ( 1913 - 1921 ) One cool judgment is worth a thousand hasty counsels. The thing to be supplied is light, not heat. The president is the chief executive of the United States. He develops federal policies, prepares national budgets, enforces federal laws, appoints officials and manages the executive branch. He also holds the title of chief of state, which means he is the
• Checks Congress by vetoing a bill it has passed
• Withhold information from Congress on the grounds of executive privilege
• Checks the federal courts by nominating judges
country’s foremost representative. In this capacity, the president performs ceremonial duties and meets with leaders of foreign nations. The president may also veto or reject legislation that he feels should not become law. His powers include nominating candidates for positions in his cabinet, Supreme Court justices, federal court justices and U.S. district attorneys. He also may pardon criminals. Two of the most visible elements of the executive branch are the White House office staff and the president’s cabinet, which originated in the administration of George Washington. The millions of civilians and military personnel who work in the executive branch are called the president’s administration. The president is also commander in chief of the armed forces. The fact that the armed forces are led by the president, who is a civilian and not a military officer, guarantees democratic control over this powerful military organization. The presidency has proved adaptive to the changing needs of society. It is the president who has been the symbol of our nation — its hopes, fears, aspirations, disappointments and victories.
President Theodore Roosevelt officially gave the White House its current name in 1901. Today, there are 132 rooms, 35 bathrooms, 28 fireplaces, eight staircases and three elevators in the residence.
14 | THREE BRANCHES OF GOVERNMENT
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