Constitutional Contract Law

The U.S. President cannot make an actual law without the approval of Congress. Under Article II of the U.S. Constitution, the President of the United States is the head of the executive branch of U.S. government. This Article gives the Office of the U.S. President the right to execute laws and act on behalf of the country, with the approval of Congress.

Officially, the U.S. President has no formal legislative powers. As a legislative facilitator, he can recommend legislation to Congress, but Congress chooses whether to follow up on that recommendation. He can veto legislation, but Congress can overturn that veto if it has not adjourned. However, there are 3 backdoor ways in which the U.S. President can shape, make, or permanently prevent a bill from becoming law.

Signing statements

The U.S. President can make a written signing statement upon signing a bill into law. The earliest signing statements were usually mostly rhetorical or political, with no real legislative implications.

However, signing statements during the Reagan administration and afterwards often challenged the constitutionality of the bill that was being signed into law. In these kinds of signing statements, the U.S. President may indicate that the executive branch will not enforce part or all of the law which is being signed.

This use of a signing statement has no legal value in law. Nevertheless, a judge may take it into consideration when deciding how to interpret that law. In that respect, it has legislative power.

Pocket vetos

Under some circumstances, the U.S. President can prevent a bill from becoming law without the consent of Congress. All that is needed is for the bill to be vetoed at a time when Congress has adjourned. This “pocket veto” takes advantage of the deadlines built into the legislative process.

Executive orders

On the basis of his discretionary power, a U.S. President may issue as many executive orders as he believes the executive branch needs to carry out U.S. policy. Executive orders can be just as sweeping in scope as a law, and some have been controversial. However, the executive order cannot last beyond the current administration.

The ability to issue an executive order is not entrenched in the U.S. Constitution. However, it has been interpreted to fall under the “executive power” mentioned in Article II. Executive orders have been issued by U.S. presidents since 1789.