Does a President Have Unlimited Power?

Trump is claiming that the President of the United States has unlimited powers. He has been steadily exercising Presidential power without accepting any checks on his power. He is hugging more and more power to himself much in the way he hugs the American flag.

Trump has become increasingly authoritarian since the Democrats became the majority power in the House and he lost the backing of an undivided (totally partisan) Congress. If he cannot have an inert Congress, loyal to him (Him) and willing to offer little or no obstruction, not even the token attempts to rein Trump in if he seems likely to take us into existential danger, then he will act like Congress does not exist. Because, to his mind, Congress has no power over the President or how could the President perform the duty of the President to be the unchallenged boss (Don) of America.

The Constitution only applies to all those other people in the government, who are actually unnecessary because all the nation really needs is a President. This is even more obvious as this 45 th President is a stable genius who is doing the greatest job ever of running the country. If Trump states it, it has to be true.

I don’t believe we knew the full extent of Trump’s mental delusions until he got ensconced in the Oval. Now he has us stymied about how to rid ourselves of him and save a democracy/republic which this man obviously has no respect for. Our democracy cannot work as long as Trump is President but he has mesmerized almost half of America. We are in deep trouble.

We must keep democracy alive in our hearts and, if we don’t win the 2020 election, we must prepare ourselves to live in a world that is crumbling around us even as the leader thinks the nation is thriving. We must steal our hearts to human rights violations and humanitarian violations that we cannot immediately redress. We can take no solace from science as the environmental conditions on our planet turn more and more hostile, because our President is a fatalist in this regard. We must live two lives, an external life and an internal life. And it looks like we must prepare ourselves for war against Iran and what will that like? How will the nations of the world align? Will America start the next World War?

This is getting scarier by the minute as we put our faith in the system, common sense, an election and our Constitution to set things back to some kind of normalcy. One woman, Nancy Pelosi, is carrying an enormous burden, pitting herself against a President who is drunk on power. At least that’s how it looks some days. We the people are doing little except to help maintain the notion that everything is normal, nothing to see here until we get through the next election.

An article in the NYT 6/17/2019 discusses this same topic.

Judge for Yourself

Here is a condensed version of Article I and Article II of the US Constitution. Do you think our founding document gives a President of the United States unlimited power as Trump claims?

A Condensed Version of the US Constitution with more Contemporary Language. (by Nancy Brisson)

Article 1 of the US Constitution

Section 1:

Establishes Congress which is granted all Legislative powers and says that Congress will be made up of a Senate and a House of Representatives.

Section 2:

Members of the House of Representatives are chosen every 2 years.

Members must be at least 25 years of age, a US citizen for 7 years and a resident of the state s/he will represent when elected.

Describes how taxes and representatives will be portioned out among the states, but this part was revised because it was racist.

Says that states will replace members if their seat becomes vacant between elections.

Gives House of Representatives the right to choose their Speaker and Officers.

Gives House of Representatives the sole Power of Impeachment.

Section 3

Senate will be composed of 2 senators from each state, chosen in a state election.

Senators serve for 6 years.

Each senator has one vote.

These six year terms were staggered in the very first Congress so that 1/3 of the Senate must run for election every 2 years and then stay for 6 years until it is their turn to run again.

Vacancies during recesses are refilled temporarily by the appropriate state until the next meeting of the Legislature when they are filled permanently.

Senators must be at least 30 years old, a citizen for nine years, and live in the state s/he will represent.

The Vice President of the US will be the President of the Senate, but only votes when there is a tie.

The Senate will chose their other officers and also a President pro tempore to serve when the Vice President has other duties or must take over for the President.

The Senate has the power to try impeachments. When the President is tried the Chief Justice presides. Conviction requires a 2/3 vote of all the members.

The Senate can remove someone from office and disqualify them from holding office in the future, but the party, once removed, convicted can then be subject to normal Indictment, Trial and Punishment.

Section 4

State Legislatures decide the time, place, and manner of holding elections, but the Congress has oversight except in the matter of the places where elections are held.

Congress will assemble at least once a year on 1stMonday of December unless a different day is specified by a subsequent law.

Section 5

Each House of Congress regulates elections and qualifications of its own members.

A majority constitutes a quorum to do business, but a smaller number can meet from day to day and can decide how to persuade absent members to attend.

Each House can decide the rules for how it does business and punish members for disorderly behavior and can expel a member with a 2/3 vote.

Each House will keep a journal with a record of yeas and nays when members wish this info to be recorded, and will publish all parts of the journal from time to time unless secrecy is needed.

Congress will not adjourn for more than 3 days when it is sitting or move proceedings to a new location.

Section 6

Senators and Representatives will be paid.

They will be privileged from arrest while Congress is in session or while traveling to and from Congress except for Treason, Felony, and Breach of Peace.

Members of Congress cannot be held liable for a speech made in Congress even when Congress is not in session.

You cannot be in Congress and hold any other office in the government at the same time.

Section 7

The House of Representatives makes all bills for raising revenue but the Senate can amend or vote on amendments.

Bills passed in Congress must go to the President who can either sign it or return it. (veto power) But if the bill is reconsidered and passes in both Houses of Congress by 2/3 vote it can become a law despite the President’s veto. If the President doesn’t return a bill to Congress in ten days it becomes a law, unless Congress adjourns to prevent the return in which case it does not become a law.

Each law that is passed by both Houses must be sent to the President except for the matter of adjournment.

Section 8

Powers of Congress:

To ask for taxes, collect taxes, charge shipping fees, pay debts.

Provide for the Common defense and general welfare of the US.

Any fees, etc. must be the same throughout the states.

Can borrow money on credit of the US.

Regulate commerce with other nations, among the states, and with the Indian Tribes.

Establish rules to become a naturalized citizen.

Make uniform laws of bankruptcy throughout the states.

Coin money and regulate value of US money and foreign money.

Decide the standards of weights and measures.

Decide punishment for counterfeiting securities and money.

Establish post office and post roads.

Promote the progress of Science and the Arts through trademarks and patents.

To form courts under the Supreme Court.

To define rules about piracy and conduct on the high seas and offenses against the laws of nations.

To declare War and make appropriate rules about captures.

To raise and support Armies – no appropriation of money for longer than 2 years at a time.

To provide and maintain a Navy.

Makes rules for government and regulation of land and naval forces.

To provide for calling forth the militia (to execute laws, suppress insurrections, impel invasions).

Gives broader control over the Militia, organizing, arming and disciplining.

Have power over land ceded to government for forts, magazines, arsenals, dock-yards, etc.

To make laws that accomplish these goals and all other goals mentioned in the Constitution.

Section 9

Specifies a fee for states that import or migrate people before 1808. (slave states?)

Writ of habeas corpus (the right to go before a judge) cannot be denied except when in a rebellion or invasion when public safety may require it.

You cannot pass a law that is retroactive and that denies the right to appear before a judge.

You cannot tax by head count without a census.

You cannot pass a law that charges for interstate trade.

The same thing applies to ports. The government may not show preference for the port of one state over another. States cannot charge other states port fees.

Congress cannot draw any money unless it is budgeted by law and records must be published from time to time.

Congress cannot grant titles of nobility.

No person holding any office can accept any present, Emolument, Office, or title of any kind whatever from any King, Prince or foreign state (Emoluments clause) unless Congress consents.

Section 10

States cannot make treaties or alliances or do any of the things that Congress cannot do.

States can charge duties for executing inspection laws, but the money shall be for the use of the US Treasury and Congress has the right to review and control these state laws.

States cannot keep troops, or ships of war or enter into any agreement with another state or foreign power or engage in War unless under immediate threat of invasion.

Article II

Section 1

Executive Power is given to the President of the United States of America.

He has a term of 4 years.

Also a Vice president will serve for the same term.

Describes the election process including the Electoral College, although not by that name.

Congress determines the dates for elections, with the same election day throughout the states.

President must be a natural born citizen.

Must be at least thirty-five years of age.

Must have resided fourteen years within the United States.

Describes order of succession should we lose the President – VP would become President.

(Congress has subsequently decided a more extended order of succession).

President will be paid but may not accept any other emoluments even from the states.

Oath of Affirmation: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.”

Section 2

Designates President as Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy and Militias of states when called into service.

May require principal officer in any Executive position to submit a job description.

Has the power to grant pardons and reprieves, except in cases of impeachment.

Has the power to make treaties with approval of 2/3 of Senators.

Appoints, with advice and consent of the Senate, Ambassadors, public ministers and Consuls, Judges of the Supreme Court, and any other officers who appoints are not otherwise provided for.

Congress may by law give the power over appointment of inferior officers to the President alone, or to the courts or to the heads of departments.

The President can fill all vacancies that happen during the recess of the Senate by granting commission, but they expire at the end of the Senate’s next session.

Section 3

Provides for the State of the Union address.

President can recommend measure s/he considers expedient or necessary to Congress.

President can on extraordinary occasions convene both houses, or either of them and if they cannot agree about adjournment s/he can adjourn Congress until a time he designates as proper.

President can receive ambassadors and other public ministers.

S/he shall take care that the laws are faithfully executed.

S/he shall commission all Officers of the United States.

Section 4

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and conviction of treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.

Photo Credits: From a Google Image Search – NPR, Lawfare, www.senate.gov, GovTrack, business insider.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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