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Know The Powers of the President as Chief Executive Officer Before You Vote, Part 4

May 18, 2008
Knowledge is power. Presently the voters have taken an active role in choosing our next president. A leading factor is if the candidate can bring out change. Voters will benefit greatly by understanding the powers of the presidency.

The most familiar power of the president is the president's power as Commander-In-Chief of the armed forces. The president has the power to deploy the military even if there is no war, and can establish military governments in occupied areas.

The Vietnam War was a long protracted war that did not have a declaration of war. Because of this war, congress adopted a new law over president's veto, the War Powers Resolution. This requires the president to consult with congress whenever possible prior to committing armed forces, or when he has committed forces. When committing forces, it must cease within 60 days unless congress declares war or extends the sixty day period.

The president has great powers over international affairs as international spokesman. The powers are great because the president will not have any issues with the States and the president does not need authority from congress to act as spokesman for the United States.

The president has broad power with treaties and executive agreements. With treaties, the president needs two-thirds approval of the Senate. A self-executing treaty takes effect without any enabling legislation. It is equivalent to a legislative act and supersedes state laws. With conflicting treaties, the later in time controls.

A nonself-executing treaty needs federal legislation to implement their provisions. This is usually needed to get the states to take action with their state laws.

In March of 2008, President Bush suffered a defeat when the U.S. Supreme Court rejected his assertion on the powers of the president regarding U.S. treaties with the States. In Medellin vs. Texas, the Supreme Court ruled that the States are only bound if the treaty explicitly said so or if there was legislation to make that clear.

This case was emotionally charged because the defendant was convicted to death for the gang rape a murder of two Houston teenagers, and a total of 51 Mexican nationals who were convicted and sentenced by state law were made part of this case.

The International Court of Justice ordered President Bush to tell the states to review cases of some foreign defendants who were denied the right to contact their embassies when they were arrested. President Bush ordered the states to review the cases.

The issue before the Court was whether the treaty was binding on the States in accordance with President Bush's order.

The right to contact their embassies was included in the Vienna Convention and the Optional Protocol which gave specific jurisdiction to ICJ. (Later on the U.S. withdrew from the Optional Protocol.) The United States insisted on this right when it negotiated the treaty.

But now the Supreme Court ruled that the president's executive power does not give him the authority to intervene in those state criminal cases unless the treaty explicitly says so or if there is legislation to make that clear.

This set a strong line on the difference between self-executing and nonself-executing treaties.

The last power of the president is executive agreements. This does not need Senate approval but will prevail over state law. The scope of power of executive agreements included when the president recognized the Soviet government and made an agreement which forced New York State to have the banks release funds to the Soviet government. United States vs. Pink 315 U.S. 203 (1942).

The president can settle claims by executive agreement. When assets were frozen for the Iranian hostage situation under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, the president released the assets by executive agreement.

Understanding the powers of the president and what areas are not within the scope of power will help the voters make a more realistic evaluation of the candidates.
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