Cutting Costs Cutting CostsCutting Costs
Inside the effort to improve the efficiency of federal operations.

Can We Talk Calmly About Obama's 'Executive Orders'?

ARCHIVES

You may be perplexed about President Obama's recent actions aimed at promoting gun safety. One of the leading scholars of separation of powers, Peter M. Shane, has set out a calm analysis of Obama's actions here. The president signed three, not 23, executive orders, he notes. Shane's most important point is this:

What executive orders cannot do is impose obligations or restrictions on the public, unless Congress, through legislation, has expressly or implicitly conferred authority on the President to do so. It is worth noting that none of President Obama's executive orders on gun violence do any such things.

The opposition has many criticisms of the specifics of Obama's actions. Fair enough; that's part of the ongoing debate about the proper regulation of firearms. But some on the right like to claim that "executive orders" in themselves are lawless.

If so, that would have come as news to George Washington -- who issued, among dozens of proclamations, eight executive orders of the kind we recognize today -- and to every president since. 

What is the president's job? He is the holder of "the executive power" and has the duty to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed." It would be childish to believe that statutes, once passed by Congress, somehow carry themselves out while the president greets Little League teams in the Rose Garden. New criminal statutes must be enforced; new conditional spending grants must be administered; new programs must be assigned to government departments for administration; new policies must be carried out by government employees on the ground. 

FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.