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I rightly decree...

November 10, 2008 - John Stack

One of the powers wielded by presidents is the 'executive order'. Basically, the idea of executive order is help the operation of executive officers. It is also used to clarify laws. For example, sometimes a law is written with purposefully vague language so that it will pass through congress. The President may 'decree' that the law means so and so. Most executive orders are of little to no importance to the populace as a whole. Many have to do with succession plans for an agency, ot the creation of commissions. Some important executive orders have to deal with national security issues (which are often not made public) or foreign policy issues. For example, one order is  'Blocking Property of Certain Persons Contributing to the Conflict in Côte D'Ivoire '.

Some believe executive orders can be and have been abused. There is no clear cut limit to the executive orders, but most presidents don't press their limits. An executive order can be made moot by congress passing a law that is in contradiction to the order, or, like a veto, can override the order with a supermajority, which is extremely tough to do.

Some of the Bush executive orders have come under the national spotlight, and most Americans aren't even aware the president had these powers. Some very high profile orders were the ban on stem cell research from human embryos, drilling on 360,000 acres of federal land in Utah, and the repeal of funding to UN health clinics that that supplied information on abortion. This last one would seem to be one that really shouldn't be an executive order. Bush was actually, by executive order, rescinding an executive order by President Clinton funding these clinics. I believe this shouldn't enter the purview of an exective order, as it is not directing some agency that needs direction, and the orders will be flip flopped everytime a new party gets into power.In 2001, when Bush made this executive order, obviously the pro-life lobby was very approving. The pro-choice lobby looked at this and thought 'that's not right, now is it?'. I'm sure if president elect Obama issues an executive order overturning this order, the sides will be singing a different tune.

 

 
 

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