The President of the United States is often considered the most powerful person in the world. However, if we examine Section II of the Constitution, we would be surprised at the minimal power provided to the President. So why is the President considered the most powerful person in the world? Because the people demand he maintain a high level of responsibility. Here, I hope to share some of the written powers and implicit responsibilities of the President.


In the Constitution, there are three kinds of power given to the President. First, sole power. Second, power by permission (explicit or implied). Third, power by circumstance.

Sole Power

Sole power is where the President can make decisions without being reliant on the judicial or legislative branches for permission. For instance, the President is given the sole power of the United States military. According to the Constitution, the “President is Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States.”

Additionally, the President can require the opinion of other executive officers about their respective departments.

The President can also fill in vacancies in the Senate if the vacancy occurs over a recess. However, the term of the granted commission will expire at the end of the next Senate session.

When legislation comes before the President, the President can veto the bill to keep it from becoming law.

Finally, the President can “grant reprieves and pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of impeachment.”

Power by Permission

The President has several other powers that serve a major role in foreign and domestic policy. Consequently, the Constitution provides a check by ensuring those powers are approved before being executed.

These powers include:

  • The ability to make Treaties. Treaties must be ratified by 2/3rds of present Senators.
  • Appoint ambassadors.
  • Appoint public ministers and consuls.
  • Appointment of Supreme Court Judges.

The appointments mentioned can be vetted by Congress before the appointment.

One could argue that Executive Orders are also powers given by permission. Although Executive Orders are not openly mentioned in the Constitution, nearly every President has implemented them. The President may use an Executive Order to create legislation without going through the legislative process. Most of the time, Executive Orders are not refuted by the legislative branch. However, if the order goes against the legislative agenda of Congress, the order may be refused.

Powers by Circumstance

Interestingly, the Constitution provides times where the President is given additional power. The President may receive certain power for certain events or extreme circumstances.

From time to time, the President is to provide information concerning the state of the Union. During which, the President can provide recommendations they feel are necessary and expedient. The President is to meet with ambassadors and other public Ministers. On extraordinary occasions, the President can convene or adjourn either branch of Congress.


The President of the United States has a large responsibility. Everything depends on this responsibility. This responsibility is why the President is often considered the most powerful person in the world. In the oath taken by the President before they take office, this responsibility is outlined:

“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.”

The Constitution is the most important document to maintain the freedom of the people. The President is the individual who takes this oath to defend the Constitution. Therefore, the President is expected to maintain our rights and freedoms.

The power given to the President is suited perfectly to maintain this high responsibility. As Commander in Cheif, the President is expected to protect the United States from foreign attack. The President is the final voice of approval in the creation of law. As such, the President is expected to protect the freedoms granted in the Constitution. As the creator of treaties, the President is expected to make peace with foreign nations.

Closing Thoughts

With great power comes great responsibility.

Categories: Two Man Congress

Will Laursen

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