Intelligence Law School - Course 1: Lesson 3.4.3 Article II

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3.4 The Articles

3.4.3 Article II

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3.4.3 Article II

Article II establishes the Executive Branch and enumerates all of its powers.[1]

Ø  “Executive Power” Defined: Article II, Section 1 vests the executive power in the President of the United States.

o   So, what is executive power?

o   It’s the power to execute the laws.[2] Plain and simple.

o   Congress passes the laws, and the President carries them out.

Ø  Role of Agencies in Executing the Law: In order to help the President execute all those laws passed by Congress, he has a massive army of administrative agencies below him in the Executive Branch of government.

o   These agencies are created by Congress through statute.

o   Agencies aren’t created by the Constitution, and they have no constitutional powers.

o   The President is the head of executive branch agencies, and he has constitutional powers and duties derived from Article II of the Constitution, but agencies have no constitutional power of their own.

Ø  The President as Chief Executive: Perhaps most important to U.S. intelligence law, Article II designates the President as “chief executive.”

o   The Take Care Clause of Article II also gives the President the constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed.

o   This establishes the President’s role in relation to the role of Congress.

o   Congress enacts the law.

o   The President enforces or executes the laws that Congress enacts.

Ø  The President as Commander-in-Chief: The President also has some limited constitutional authority as Commander-in-Chief, which gives him special administrative powers with respect to the military and members of the armed forces.

o   Military power is shared with Congress.

o   Article I vests Congress with the power to enact laws that regulate the military.

o   Article II vests the President with administrative power to command the military in accordance with those laws.

Ø  The President and Foreign Affairs: Article II also establishes the President as the chief representative of the United States in foreign affairs.

o   The text of the Constitution doesn’t grant this broad foreign affairs power explicitly, but it has been inferred from international custom and three more specific provisions found in Article II:

§  The President’s duty to receive ambassadors and foreign dignitaries;

§  The President’s power to appoint U.S. ambassadors; and

§  The President’s power to make treaties with foreign nations.

o   The treaty power is shared power.

o   The President has the power to make treaties with foreign nations, but it requires the “advice and consent” of the Senate.

§  Advice and consent in this context means that two-thirds of the Senators present must approve of a treaty before it can be ratified as U.S. law.  


That does it for Article II and the powers of the President.



[1] See Encyclopedia Britannica, Constitution of the United States of America (Student and Home Edition 2009).

[2] Black’s Law Dictionary 591 (7th ed. 1999).


© 2012 David Alan Jordan. All rights reserved.