The U.S. Constitution establishes the impeachment process as a check on the presidency. However, some have argued that this mechanism has been used for political or partisan reasons rather than an actual check on the executive. What are your thoughts on this?
For background information on the impeachment process, review the resource below by clicking the link.
Spaulding, M. (2019, October 4). The impeachment question should rest on principle instead of politics. The Hill. https://thehill.com/opinion/judiciary/464381-the-impeachment-question-should-rest-on-principle-instead-of-politics
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Course Learning Outcomes for Unit VI Upon completion of this unit, students should be able to:
3. Describe the functions of the three branches of the U.S. federal government. 3.1 Describe the formal and informal powers of the U.S. president. 3.2 Identify the ways that presidential powers are checked. 3.3 Describe the executive administration (Executive Office of the President). 3.4 Compare bureaucratic patronage with the civil service system. 3.5 Describe the structure of bureaucracy. 3.6 Identify the functions of bureaucracy.
Course/Unit Learning Outcomes
3.1 Unit Lesson Chapter 12, pp. 445–479 Unit VI Scholarly Activity
3.2 Unit Lesson Chapter 12, pp. 445–479 Unit VI Scholarly Activity
3.3 Unit Lesson Chapter 12, pp. 445–479 Unit VI Scholarly Activity
3.4 Unit Lesson Chapter 15, pp. 557–584 Unit VI Scholarly Activity
3.5 Unit Lesson Chapter 15, pp. 557–584 Unit VI Scholarly Activity
3.6 Unit Lesson Chapter 15, pp. 557–584 Unit VI Scholarly Activity
Required Unit Resources In order to access the following resources, click the links below. Throughout this course, you will be provided with sections of text from the online textbook American Government 2e. You may be tested on your knowledge and understanding of the material presented in the textbook as well as the information presented in the unit lesson. Chapter 12: The Presidency, pp. 445–479 Chapter 15: The Bureaucracy, pp. 557–584
Unit Lesson Article II of the U.S. Constitution creates the Executive Office of the President. It describes the qualifications and powers of the president and describes how the president will be elected. As with much of the Constitution, Article II emerged as a compromise among convention delegates. There were three key points of debate: the structure of the presidency, the powers of the president, and the way in which the president
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would be elected. While most delegates agreed that an effective chief executive must be instilled with robust powers that are sufficient to address the challenges of a growing country, they diverged on how powers should be configured in order to ensure that the country’s democratically elected leader does not become a king or tyrant. In short, the convention delegates devised an executive branch that consisted of a one-person president who held broad and general powers and came to power in such a way that would help only well- vetted candidates ascend to the presidency.
Presidential Selection Process: A Review
Previously, we learned about the presidential election process. To briefly summarize, candidates often begin their bid for the presidency almost 2 years before the general election. They need to hire a campaign staff, raise money, gain name recognition among the electorate and their political party, develop campaign strategies and decide on tactics, develop advertising campaigns, and identify the issues on which their campaign will focus. Early entry is especially important for candidates who are not as well-known. Candidates with established name recognition are able to enter the presidential race just a year before the election. Between January and June of the election year, political parties will begin holding presidential primaries and caucuses to select delegates who will attend their national conventions. The national conventions are typically slated for the late summer or early fall of the election year. The purpose of the conventions is to select party candidates to run in the general election. After the conventions, the campaigns shift from candidates competing against other candidates of their own party to a party candidate competing against a different party’s candidate. The general election is held in early November. In this election, registered voters cast their ballots for their choice out of the presidential candidates. The outcome of the general election does not determine who will be president but, rather, determines which electors will participate in the Electoral College elections.
Donald Trump is sworn in as the 45th president of the United States by Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts, Jr., in Washington, D.C., on January 20, 2017. (The White House, 2017)
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In order to access the following activity, click the link below. To win the presidency, a candidate must have 270 electoral votes. See how the Electoral College and the idea of swing states can shape elections by experimenting with the interactive map. You can create your own 2020 election forecast! Interactive Activity 6.1: Interactive Electoral Map
In December, after the November election, electors gather in their state capitols to cast their electoral votes. The candidate with the majority of electors wins the presidency (USAGov, n.d.). For a complete overview of the presidential selection process, visit the USAGov webpage “Presidential Election Process.”
The Inauguration Once a candidate wins the Electoral College election, what happens then? The candidate has to wait until January 22 of the following year to take office. This period between the end of the sitting president’s term and the beginning of the president-elect’s term is known as the lame-duck period, and the outgoing president is the lame-duck president. Until 1937, presidents typically took office on March 4, though sometimes this was delayed because of bad weather. While this created a long lame-duck period, it was needed for all of the states to count and send in their electoral votes. However, the Twentieth Amendment moved the inaugural date up to January 20 (or January 21 if January 20 falls on a Sunday).
The inauguration is a constitutionally mandated event that takes place once every 4 years in mid-January, but it also has a public ceremonial value as well. It demonstrates that the United States has an established mechanism for the peaceful transition of power. Traditionally, the inauguration ceremony is held outside the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C. and is open to the public. There have been 53 inaugurations at the U.S. Capitol, but not all have taken place in this location. Before the U.S. Capitol was moved to Washington, D.C., presidents took their oaths of office in the capitol city of the time. George Washington’s first oath was taken in New York City, New York. His second was in Philadelphia, which is also where John Adams was sworn into office. President Thomas Jefferson was the first to take the oath of office in Washington in 1801. When the transition of presidential power has been precipitated by an assassination, the oath of office was administered wherever the vice president happened to be at the time (Senate, n.d.).
The inauguration is planned by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies. Typically, there are several activities that occur as a part of the presidential inauguration (U.S. Senate, n.d.).
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An alternate version of the infographic above is provided using assistive technologies.
Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:—”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.”
(U.S. Const. art. II, § 1)https://online.columbiasouthern.edu/bbcswebdav/xid-124834624_1
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It Is Move-In Day at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue On the day of a president’s inauguration, there are many undertakings that occur in addition to the inauguration itself. Early on inauguration morning, the residence staff meet with the president and their family to bid them farewell and typically present them with the American flag that flew over the White House on the their Inauguration Day and on their last day in office, which is a bittersweet moment for all (Berkowitz, 2017). Since the incoming president cannot take up residence at the White House until January 20, there is a flurry of activity from early in the morning well into the night. Movers must remove all of the outgoing belongings of the president and his family from the White House so that the new president and his or her family can begin occupying 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue by that evening (Minton, 2017). When President Trump was moving in and President Obama was moving out, the event was so well choreographed that Trump’s belongings were being moved in from the east side of the White House while President Obama’s belongings were being moved out from the west side (Minton, 2017). The entire process is overseen by about 90 White House residence staff, headed by the residence chief usher. Note that the White House residence has a staff separate from the White House’s administrative (political) staff. Unlike the political staff, the residence staff often serve several different presidents and their families (Berkowitz, 2017).
In order to take a virtual tour of the White House and read about the “People’s House,” click the link below. Interactive Activity 6.2: Virtual Tour of White House Click on the four arrows to expand the tour to full screen in order to get a better view of the tour. The full 22-minute White House tour, which has access to closed captioning and a transcript, is also available. Neither viewing is required.
President Obama’s first day in the Oval Office (Souza, 2009)https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2017/01/13/president-obama-narrates-peoples-house-virtual-reality-tour-white-househttps://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2017/01/13/president-obama-narrates-peoples-house-virtual-reality-tour-white-househttps://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2017/01/13/president-obama-narrates-peoples-house-virtual-reality-tour-white-househttps://c24.page/gf78e9s4ecnawcx6w3pvbeb3cyhttps://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2017/01/13/president-obama-narrates-peoples-house-virtual-reality-tour-white-househttps://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/blog/2017/01/13/president-obama-narrates-peoples-house-virtual-reality-tour-white-house
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As the movers do their work, staff are painting walls, making minor repairs, cleaning carpets, and ensuring that there are portraits of the new president hung throughout the White House. Kitchen pantries are restocked with the new president’s favorite foods and fresh floral arrangements, and family mementos are placed throughout the living area. The president’s clothing and that of his or her family are hung in their new rooms in the residence, and with acute attention to detail, even the president’s preferred toiletries are placed in the bathrooms (Minton, 2017). All of the president’s belongings are unpacked and put away. Family pets are also included in the transition. Former first dogs and cats are bid goodbye and quickly replaced by new ones and their favorite food, treats, and toys (Berkowitz, 2017). In addition, as many as several hundred new administrative staff members transition into the White House with the incoming president. As staffers for the outgoing president exit their White House offices, the political offices are also cleaned, and minor repairs are made. In order to ensure a smooth transition, no new staffers are permitted into the White House until the old staff have left. It is often not until mid-afternoon that new staffers are allowed into their new offices, giving them minimal time to unpack and hit the ground running the next morning, if not before (Berkowitz, 2017).
The Presidency: Key Constitutional Provisions and Legislation While Article II of the U.S. Constitution addresses the presidency along with the vice presidency and administrative offices, several key changes have occurred over the years that impact the way that U.S. presidents are elected. Amendments Relevant to Elections The Twelfth Amendment, ratified in 1804, requires that there is a single Electoral College vote in December after the November general election. The candidate with the majority of electors becomes president. The candidate with the next largest number of votes wins the vice presidency (U.S. Const. amend. XII). The Twentieth Amendment, ratified in 1933, establishes January 20 as the date that the incoming president will assume the office. Previously, presidents took office on March 4 (U.S. Const. amend. XX). The Twenty-Second Amendment, ratified in 1951, places a limit on the number of times a president can serve in office: two terms or 10 years. The 10 years refers to a partial term (e.g., if a vice president assumes the office and serves less than half of the outgoing president’s term) (U.S. Const. amend. XXII). The Twenty-Third Amendment, ratified in 1961, granted the District of Columbia (Washington, D.C.) with three electoral votes (U.S. Const. amend. XXIII).
Line of Succession: Transition of Power and Continuity of Authority Article II, Section 1 establishes a line of succession in the event that a president dies, resigns, or is unable to fullfill his duties. It states:
In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be elected. (U.S. Const. art. II, § 1)
President Georg W. Bush looks out over the Capitol Building after leaving the inauguration of President Barack Obama. (Draper, 2009)
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However over the years, this has been expanded and clarified. Presidential Succession Act (1947): In 1947, President Harry Truman signed the Presidential Succession Act. The original succession law, which was passed in 1792, located the president pro tempore of the U.S. Senate and the Speaker of the House in the line of succession. However, Congress removed these two positions and replaced them with two cabinet positions based on the age of the department (oldest to youngest). Truman’s Presidential Succession Act of 1947 placed the Speaker of the House next in line after the vice president, followed by the president pro tempore of the Senate. Codified as 3 U.S.C. § 19, if there is no qualified president pro tempore, then the department secretaries enter the line of succession from the oldest to the most recent department. The law also states that only those individuals who meet the qualification to be president may become president. This means that if a department secretary is not a natural-born citizen, then that individual is excluded from the line of succession (Presidential Succession Act, 1947). The Twenty-Fifth Amendment, ratified in1967, reaffirms that if there is a vacancy in the presidency, the vice president will become president. If there is a vacancy in the vice president’s position, the president is given the authority to nominate a new vice president who must be confirmed by majority vote in both chambers of Congress. The Twenty-Fifth Amendment also provides that the vice president can temporarily or permanently serve as president if the sitting president becomes physically or mentally incapacitated (U.S. Const. amend. XXV).
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Title DID YOU KNOW?
There have been nine times in U.S. history that a vice president has assumed the position of president. Because there is a clear
line of succession, these transitions occurred without political struggles or violence.
Assassination Natural Death Resignation
Abraham Lincoln’s successor Andrew Johnson took the oath of office after President Lincoln died the day after being shot at the Kirkwood House in Washington, D.C., with Lincoln’s cabinet and several senators as witnesses (U.S. Senate, n.d.).
William Harrison, who delivered the longest inaugural address, died in 1841 of pneumonia. He also served the shortest term of all presidents. John Tyler, who succeeded him, was the first vice president to assume the presidency after the death of a president (U.S. Senate, n.d.).
Gerald Ford took the oath of office after Richard Nixon resigned. The ceremony took place in the East Room of the White House. Interestingly, Ford was the first and only president to hold both the offices of vice president and president without being elected to either one. President Nixon’s first vice president was Spiro Agnew, who resigned in 1973. Ford became the first person appointed as vice president under the terms of the Twenty-Fifth Amendment (U.S. Senate, n.d.).
When James Garfield was shot in 1881 by a deranged gunman, Chester Arthur was sworn into office in September of the same year at his personal residence in New York City. Former Presidents Ulysses S. Grant and Rutherford B. Hayes were present as witnesses to the ceremony (U.S. Senate, n.d.).
Zachary Taylor died in office in 1850 of suspected food poisoning. He was succeeded by Vice President Millard Fillmore, who took the oath of office in the House of Representatives Chamber of the U.S. Capitol. Fillmore’s swearing-in was open to the public. He was the 13th president of the United States (Senate, n.d.).
In 1901, President William McKinley was shot by an anarchist. He died 8 days later. Vice President Theodore Roosevelt was sworn into office at a private residence in Buffalo, New York. A federal judge administered the oath of office (U.S. Senate, n.d.).
In 1923, Warren G. Harding died in office from a stroke while traveling in California. Upon being informed of the president’s death, Vice President Calvin Coolidge was sworn into office several hours later by a local notary using a family Bible at his father’s home in Plymoth, Vermont (U.S. Senate, n.d.).
Lyndon B. Johnson took the oath aboard Air Force One with the First Lady present after John Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Kennedy was the youngest man elected to office, and he was the youngest president to die in office (U.S. Senate, n.d.).
Franklin Roosevelt died in office in 1945 of a stroke. Roosevelt was the only president to serve four terms. He died in the 11th week of his fourth term. He had served 12 years as president, the longest of any president in U. S. history. Vice President Harry Truman took the oath of office in the Cabinet Room of the White House just 2 hours after Roosevelt’s death (U.S. Senate, n.d.).
Gerald Ford (Kennedy, 1974)
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Presidential Powers, Sources, and Limits
In order to access the following presentation, click the link below. View this Formal and Informal Executive Powers presentation. A PDF version of the Formal and Informal Executive Power presentation is also available.
Executive Administration (Bureaucracy) While bureaucratic organizations are not explicitly discussed in the U.S. Constitution, they are implied in Articles I and II. In Article II, the Constitution states that the president has the authority to appoint “public ministers” and request information from “executive departments” (U.S. Const. art. II, § 2). Article I, Section 8 grants Congress the power to regulate commerce, coin money, and create a post office (U.S. Const. art. I, § 8). From this minimal starting point, bureaucracy in the United States was established during President Washington’s administration and has grown significantly since that time. The Executive Administration is composed of the Office of the Vice President; the Executive Office of the President (EOP), which serves as the president’s personal advisors; as well as the President’s Cabinet, which is composed of the15 department heads and other select upper-level advisors.
The Cabinet Departments
Department of State (1789)
U.S. Department of the Treasury (1789)
U.S. Department of Defense (1789/1947)
Department of the Interior (1849)
Department of Justice (1870)
Department of Agriculture (1889)
Department of Commerce (1913)
Department of Labor (1913)
Department of Housing and Urban Development (1965)
Department of Transportation (1966)
Department of Energy (1977)
Department of Education (1979)
Department of Health & Human Services (1980)
Department of Veterans Affairs (1988)
Department of Homeland Security (2002)
Great Seal of the United States (U.S. Government, 1782)https://online.columbiasouthern.edu/bbcswebdav/xid-124834645_1https://online.columbiasouthern.edu/bbcswebdav/xid-124834645_1https://online.columbiasouthern.edu/bbcswebdav/xid-124834672_1https://online.columbiasouthern.edu/bbcswebdav/xid-124834672_1https://www.state.gov/https://home.treasury.gov/https://www.defense.gov/https://www.doi.gov/https://www.justice.gov/https://www.usda.gov/https://www.commerce.gov/https://www.dol.gov/https://www.hud.gov/https://www.transportation.gov/https://www.energy.gov/https://www.ed.gov/https://www.hhs.gov/https://www.va.gov/https://www.dhs.gov/https://online.columbiasouthern.edu/bbcswebdav/xid-124834645_1
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Bureaucracy more broadly includes the departments as well as independent agencies, regulatory commissions, and government-owned corporations. Under the direction of the president and the Executive Office of the President, these organizations are responsible for the day-to-day enforcement and administration of federal laws. The missions of these departments and agencies vary widely to include defending the nation, protecting the environment, regulating the nation’s economy, maintaining the country’s infrastructure, studying and exploring outer space, and ensuring the health and welfare of citizens. Bureaucracies have legislative, executive, and judicial functions. When Congress passes legislation or the president formulates an executive order, one or even several of the bureaucratic agencies implements these laws or orders. When the legislation and executive directives are not sufficiently clear, it is a function of bureaucracy to create regulations that clarify or complete the law or directives. This is a legislative function of bureaucracy. When an agency implements laws, directives, or regulations, it is engaged in an executive function. Finally, when there is a conflict regarding implementation, there are special bureaucratic offices that help resolve these disputes. Including members of the U.S. Armed Forces, the executive branch employs more than 4 million Americans (The White House, n.d.). Most of these employees are hired through the civil service system, a merit-based process of hiring and promoting bureaucrats. In 1883, the Pendleton Act transformed the old patronage system of hiring and promoting government employees based on personal contacts and loyalties with a merit- based system. Today, all but the top echelon of federal workers who are appointed by the president must go through the civil service system.
In order to access the following activity, click the link below.
Play this Bureaucracy Matching Game to review concepts
associated with bureaucracy.
Click on the full-screen icon below the flash cards to see the entire card. Click on the words on the card to hear the audio. Flip on the white space around the words on the card to see the term on the other side.
References Berkowitz, B. (2017, January 17). The 5 craziest hours in the White House. The Washington Post.
Chernetskaya. (n.d.). Time to engage [Image]. https://www.dreamstime.com/composition-phrase-time-to-
Draper, E. (2009). Former President George W. Bush looks out over the U.S. Capitol [Photograph].
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:George_W._Bush_in_Marine_One.jpg Kennedy, D. H. (1974). Gerald Ford’s presidential portrait [Photograph].
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Gerald_Ford_presidential_portrait_(cropped).jpg Minton, M. (2017, January 20). This is how Donald Trump will move into the White House. Architectual
Digest. https://www.architecturaldigest.com/story/presidential-inauguration-white-house-move-in Presidential Succession Act, 3 U.S.C. § 19 (1947). U.S. Senate. (n.d.). Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies.
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The White House. (n.d.). The administration. https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-trump-administration/ The White House. (2017). President Donald Trump being sworn in [Photograph].
https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Donald_Trump_swearing_in_ceremony.jpg USAGov. (n.d.). Presidential election process. https://www.usa.gov/election U.S. Const. amend. XII U.S. Const. amend. XX U.S. Const. amend. XXII U.S. Const. amend. XXIII U.S. Const. amend. XXV U.S. Const. art. I, § 8 U.S. Const. art. II, § 1 U.S. Const. art. II, § 2 U.S. Government. (1782). Great seal of the United States [Image].
Learning Activities (Nongraded) Nongraded Learning Activities are provided to aid students in their course of study. You do not have to submit them. If you have questions, contact your instructor for further guidance and information. Review In order to check your understanding of the materials presented in this unit, you are encouraged to complete the following exercises that can be found at the end of Chapter 12 and Chapter 15. Once you have completed the activities, check your answers using the Answer Key. Chapter 12: Review Questions, pp. 481–483 Chapter 12: Critical Thinking Questions, p. 483 Chapter 15: Review Questions, pp. 586–587 Chapter 15: Critical Thinking Questions, p. 587https://online.columbiasouthern.edu/bbcswebdav/xid-124834676_1