Congress & President

The President is granted the sole power to be the Commander-in-Chief. This is guaranteed by the Constitution. In its simplest view, the President is at the topmost level of the military hierarchy (Army, Navy, and Air Force), and hence, the direction of the military and other armed agency should come from his office. This power as a Commander-in-Chief increases during wars and national emergencies. The President during these instances can call out the reserves of the military, and in fact, can authorize a military action from the armed forces even the declaration of war by the Congress.

This has happened in many cases in the past when the President orders an attack to a country and then report to the Congress. This is very clear: The Constitution vested the powers to the President to be the Commander-in-Chief (Article 2). But are there any limits to the President’s power as the Commander-in-Chief? There is much debate on how the Congress can limit these powers. It would be unconstitutional, of course, the Congress would pass a law instructing or mandating generals from the military or in the field to report to an official of the Congress, for example, to the Speaker of the House.

The Constitution grants the power to declare war only to the Congress, and Congress alone. This does not mean though that the Congress may fire the gun first, so to speak. This is usually a reaction to an attack, or possible attack. This also covers the power to make decisions about the scope and duration of a declared war. Other inherent powers of the Congress as vested by the Constitution are the power to “raise and support armies” and “make rules concerning captures on land and water. ” There are previous cases where the Congress has clearly declared the limitation in the President’s power as the Commander-in-Chief:

? During the early years of the republic in the case of the Quasi War, where the Congress authorized the president to clamp down on trade by stopping or preventing ships going to French ports. The president went further and ordered the military to stop even those sailing from French ports. The Judiciary declared that the president’s decision to make actions (on military) beyond what the Congress has declared would be unlawful. ? A case during 1952 where the president seized steel mills to prevent a strike because the government needs this for the Korean War.

This was declared unlawful because the Congress has set a different way of settling labor unrest. ? The case of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld where Congress has declared that the Military should follow guidelines set by the Congress in cases of detainees to be held against military tribunals. There is no doubt that the Congress can usurp the Commander-in-Chief through the power of the purse, but this would be too drastic a step for them to take and will even look as if the Congress is not supporting the military troops. History shows though that the Congress can set the terms of military engagement. Reference

Cohen, Adam. “Congress, the Constitution and War: The Limits on Presidential Power. ” New York Times. Internet edition. Published January 29, 2007. Do bureaucrats in government have too much power? Bureaucrats are members of the bureaucracy of an institution or agency of the government. This has received positive and, mostly, negative connotations because there is the perception that bureaucrats simply follow the orders and instructions of their head without creativity and autonomy. Nowadays, the majority of them prefer to be called civil servants or public servants as a way of describing their jobs.

But ideally, a bureaucratic official should have the following descriptions: ? They are personally free and they should be appointed to their jobs or positions by virtue of their merits and conduct. ? He has a full-time occupation as an administrator, which means that no private interests should interfere in the relegation of his duties. ? As in the case of meritocracy, his technical qualifications are the bases of this job placement and appointment. ? The rewards for his work are by a regular salary and advancement of his career.

? While he is assumed to have the technical expertise on matters relating to his position, he must exercise judgment but with the implicit and explicit assumption that these should placed in the service of a higher authority or end. Hence, he should be impartial in any decisions that he is to take, and should sacrifice any personal judgment of this would counter his duties as a public servant. There is a need to clarify the qualifications above before answering if they have too much power. In the first place, bureaucrats are not elected.

By theory, they are answerable to the higher authority only (which is a single person only). Unlike the case of elected officials where they are elected and is by theory should be responsive to the electorate. These bureaucrats act based on the direction provided to them by the higher authority. Their powers and accountabilities are limited only as far as their bosses, so to speak, are concerned. Theoretically, the bureaucrats could not have much power, or even if they do, such powers can be regulated by the authorities – by their superiors, or for a long term change, by legislative powers.There is no way a bureaucrat could retain too much power, if ever they could reach that status of having too much power.


“Bureaucrat. ” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 8 Nov 2007, 21:12 UTC. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 11 Nov 2007 <http://en. wikipedia. org/w/index. php? title=Bureaucrat&oldid=170176918>. “Bureaucracy. ” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 8 Nov 2007, 01:08 UTC. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 11 Nov 2007 <http://en. wikipedia. org/w/index. php? title=Bureaucracy&oldid=170002356>.