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Old 04-17-2003, 02:47 PM   #1
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BTW, to whoever said the executive branch is the weakest, you're wrong. The judicial branch is the weakest. The executive branch is the strongest of the branches and has been since the New Deal.

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Old 04-17-2003, 03:59 PM   #2
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That would be me. And no, I am not. You have got to be kidding me, do you realize what unprecidented policy decisions have been made by the Supreme Court? The executive branch is the weakest, however, it is the most recognized.

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The judicial branch has the power of judicial review (e. g. Marbury v. Madison), but the fact is that about 75% of the times that they use it, the legislature just passes a new law to overturn it. The only time when judicial review is particularly effective is when the Supreme Court rules that something violates the Constitution, which happens very infrequently. Even when it does happen, often times later Supreme Courts will overturn that decision (e.g. Brown v. Board of Education, which overturned Plessy v. Ferguson), and occasionally a Constitutional Amendment has been made (e.g. the 13th Amendment effectively voided Dred Scott).

The courts do not have the power to make laws, that is the ability of the legislative branch. The courts have the power to interpret existing laws, but the legislature can make new law to correct this if they don't like what the judiciary is doing. For example, abortion is not legal right now because of Roe v. Wade (a decision which ruled that women had a right to privacy that a baby was intruding upon)--if it was the Supreme Court now could overturn it as soon as they heard an abortion case; it's legal because a whole bunch of laws since 1973 have been put on the books that expressly legalize it--which is legislative and executive.

The executive branch would be weaker than the legislative branch if the legislative branch were united, but the fact is that this rarely happens. The Senate is usually split at a proportion more equal than 60-40 (the amount needed to kill a filibuster by the minority party), and the Congress is usually 65%-35% or closer. Neither party has had greater than 60 votes in the Senate and had the president in their party at least since FDR. So endless debate and things like it hamper the legislature from getting things done...and we want it that way. That is one of the checks and balances that make our governmental system excellent.

The executive branch, however, is two men, and basically one of them has all the power (Bush can ignore/overrule Cheney on anything he wants to). Since World War II, the president has had the power to introduce legislation, and the priveledge of executive order has been gradually expanding--it expanded leaps and bounds under Bill Clinton, who abused the priveledge. The president can stop almost any piece of legislation he wants to, etc. The executive branch has a lot of power...

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Old 04-17-2003, 04:45 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally posted by Luke
(Luke)
The judicial branch has the power of judicial review (e. g. Marbury v. Madison), but the fact is that about 75% of the times that they use it, the legislature just passes a new law to overturn it. The only time when judicial review is particularly effective is when the Supreme Court rules that something violates the Constitution, which happens very infrequently. Even when it does happen, often times later Supreme Courts will overturn that decision (e.g. Brown v. Board of Education, which overturned Plessy v. Ferguson), and occasionally a Constitutional Amendment has been made (e.g. the 13th Amendment effectively voided Dred Scott).

The courts do not have the power to make laws, that is the ability of the legislative branch. The courts have the power to interpret existing laws, but the legislature can make new law to correct this if they don't like what the judiciary is doing. For example, abortion is not legal right now because of Roe v. Wade (a decision which ruled that women had a right to privacy that a baby was intruding upon)--if it was the Supreme Court now could overturn it as soon as they heard an abortion case; it's legal because a whole bunch of laws since 1973 have been put on the books that expressly legalize it--which is legislative and executive.

The executive branch would be weaker than the legislative branch if the legislative branch were united, but the fact is that this rarely happens. The Senate is usually split at a proportion more equal than 60-40 (the amount needed to kill a filibuster by the minority party), and the Congress is usually 65%-35% or closer. Neither party has had greater than 60 votes in the Senate and had the president in their party at least since FDR. So endless debate and things like it hamper the legislature from getting things done...and we want it that way. That is one of the checks and balances that make our governmental system excellent.

The executive branch, however, is two men, and basically one of them has all the power (Bush can ignore/overrule Cheney on anything he wants to). Since World War II, the president has had the power to introduce legislation, and the priveledge of executive order has been gradually expanding--it expanded leaps and bounds under Bill Clinton, who abused the priveledge. The president can stop almost any piece of legislation he wants to, etc. The executive branch has a lot of power...

Luke
Luke, I am fully aware of what the courts can and have done. I am simply amazed that you would view the executive branch to be the strongest.

The executive branch may not be divided as the legislative branch often is but it suffers an amazingly high number of restraints on what it is capable of doing. That unification that you so highly esteem does nothing by way of making it easier for the President to make policy. The very divided legislative branch often makes that impossible. The President has to constantly compete with Congress to get legislation passed. The president mainly relies on party loyalty to get legislation passed, but that often falls short. Presidents usually have to award favors, cajole and threaten bills with vetos to get some amout of control.

Not only that, the President happens to be the focus of public attention. Every action that goes wrong is usually blamed on the executive and his party (which often suffers the next time around in the elections). As such the President is constantly in a PR battle that isn't such a problem for the Congress, or the Supreme Court. In most presidencies public opinion is high at the beginning of the term and usually declines towards the end. As a consequence, the president usually has to conserve his power and only concentrate on matters of major importance.

The President seems to control a vast apparatus, but in fact he only appoints a small number of officials (the majority of which he does not normally easily control). Every president since FDR has attempted to enlarge his ability to manage his branch, but so far the results have not been satisfactory.

The presidents power depends basically on whatever issue is at hand. How strong or weak his presidency is will normally only be determined by how he graces the scene of politics when an issue of importance (in the eyes of the public) arises. It is incorrect to assume the presidency as ineffective (which I don't, I only state that it is the weakest branch) or to say that it is imperial.
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Old 04-17-2003, 08:07 PM   #4
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The executive branch may not be divided as the legislative branch often is but it suffers an amazingly high number of restraints on what it is capable of doing. That unification that you so highly esteem does nothing by way of making it easier for the President to make policy. The very divided legislative branch often makes that impossible. The President has to constantly compete with Congress to get legislation passed. The president mainly relies on party loyalty to get legislation passed, but that often falls short. Presidents usually have to award favors, cajole and threaten bills with vetos to get some amout of control.

(Luke)
That's still more power than any legislator (including majority leaders in Congress) have. Like I said, if the legislative branch was a single person, it would be different. And the president can do a great deal by executive order--it's just that Bush chooses not to because it's inappropriate. Clinton "ruled by executive order", critics accused. There are a limited number of things one can do by executive order, but they're still a lot.

(Cheese)
Not only that, the President happens to be the focus of public attention. Every action that goes wrong is usually blamed on the executive and his party (which often suffers the next time around in the elections). As such the President is constantly in a PR battle that isn't such a problem for the Congress, or the Supreme Court. In most presidencies public opinion is high at the beginning of the term and usually declines towards the end. As a consequence, the president usually has to conserve his power and only concentrate on matters of major importance.

(Luke)
The first half is all well and good except for the fact that in a usual legislative session, they pass nearly 20,000 laws, about 10 of which are going to be subject to public scrutiny. PR battles are problems for Congressmen in states that are more politically active. And furthermore, it's all well and good also to spout theories about public support declining and what not, and every action that goes wrong being blamed on the president, but a quick look at the 2002 elections proves that none of that is necessarily true, it just was true for both Bush I and Clinton--of course, if you actually looked at their administrations, you could find specific reasons why they were true. It wasn't true for Reagan or Eisenhower, to give other examples.

(Cheese)
The President seems to control a vast apparatus, but in fact he only appoints a small number of officials (the majority of which he does not normally easily control). Every president since FDR has attempted to enlarge his ability to manage his branch, but so far the results have not been satisfactory.

(Luke)
The president appoints between 9,000 and 10,000 officials; I forget the exact number. The president also appoints (subject to legislative approval) every single justice seat that goes blank during his term.

It is true that several (but not all) presidents have made attempts to enlarge their appointment authorities (FDR tried to add six slots to the Supreme Court so he could pack the courts to get his New Deal programs through after the Supreme Court delcared three of them unconstitutional, which they were), but that isn't particularly relevant.

(Cheese)
It is incorrect to assume the presidency as ineffective (which I don't, I only state that it is the weakest branch) or to say that it is imperial.

(Luke)
I didn't state it was imperial.

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Old 04-17-2003, 08:46 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by Luke
That's still more power than any legislator (including majority leaders in Congress) have. Like I said, if the legislative branch was a single person, it would be different. And the president can do a great deal by executive order--it's just that Bush chooses not to because it's inappropriate. Clinton "ruled by executive order", critics accused. There are a limited number of things one can do by executive order, but they're still a lot.
Since when are we comparing individuals? I was under the impression that we were comparing branches.

Rule by executive order is not common practice, Luke.


Quote:
Originally posted by Luke
The first half is all well and good except for the fact that in a usual legislative session, they pass nearly 20,000 laws, about 10 of which are going to be subject to public scrutiny. PR battles are problems for Congressmen in states that are more politically active. And furthermore, it's all well and good also to spout theories about public support declining and what not, and every action that goes wrong being blamed on the president, but a quick look at the 2002 elections proves that none of that is necessarily true, it just was true for both Bush I and Clinton--of course, if you actually looked at their administrations, you could find specific reasons why they were true. It wasn't true for Reagan or Eisenhower, to give other examples.
The fact still remains that the Congress does NOT receive the public scrutiny that the Executive branch does. I would never be such an idiot as to deny that there arenít PR battles in Congress, it just does not have as great an impact on Congress as it does the Executive branch. Most people do Not know when their congressmen will be elected, most people donít even know who represents them in congress. It is NOT in the public eye. There are a few Big Names that surface simply because of their past (Kennedy, Clinton, etc etc.) media attention in scandal or otherwise. You would be foolish to assert that Congressional races or policy decisions are anywhere near the scrutiny that the Executive branch will receive.

Actually, If you would look at a graph of popularity from the beginning of each term to the end of each term from say Truman to Clinton, you would quickly find two trends: 1) Popularity is not as high at the end of the term as it was at the beginning of the term 2) Popularity will go up and down corresponding with a favorable or unfavorable event.


Quote:
Originally posted by Luke
The president appoints between 9,000 and 10,000 officials; I forget the exact number. The president also appoints (subject to legislative approval) every single justice seat that goes blank during his term.

It is true that several (but not all) presidents have made attempts to enlarge their appointment authorities (FDR tried to add six slots to the Supreme Court so he could pack the courts to get his New Deal programs through after the Supreme Court delcared three of them unconstitutional, which they were), but that isn't particularly relevant.
Iím not daft, I know the president appoints officials and justices to offices (which are most certainly subject to approval by the Congress, a fact which President Bush Ėalong with every other president in recent memory Ė has been made well aware of). How many of those appointees are you willing to assert the President can actually easily control?

I did not make reference to that fact.

Quote:
Originally posted by Luke
I didn't state it was imperial.
Iím sorry, I did not mean to say that you did. It was a reference point of no consequence reallyÖ.
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Last edited by Cheese; 04-17-2003 at 09:03 PM.
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Old 04-18-2003, 03:51 PM   #6
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Here are the powers of the President alone:
  • Serves as commander in chief of the armed forces
  • Commissions officers of the armed forces
  • Grants reprieves or pardons
  • Convenes Congress in special sessions
  • Receives ambassadors
  • Makes sure laws are faithfully executed
  • "executive power"
  • appoints officials to lesser offices

Your comment about the number of appointees the president makes made me curious, because that appeared to me to be an insanely small number in the first place. I looked it up and I am correct. The number of appointees to executive agencies made are just an extremely small fraction of the number of people working in those departments. For example (to give the high and low points), the percentage made to the department of education: 4.90%, the percentage made to the Department of Veteran Affaris: .14% Even those percentages are exaggerated since many of the appointees from the previous term stay in place. The President does make more appointments than does a Prime Minister, but only because a Prime Minister does not have to compete with an independent Congress or try to influence a bureaucracy.

The president can of course appoint people to Independent Agencies (such as TVA, the Federal Reserve Board, FCC, National Science Foundation, etc) and Judgeships as the need arises.

The executive branch is also weak in that it does not hold has many checks on the other two branches. The President can only check Congress by vetoing bills it has passed (which can be overruled by the Congress). And he can only nominate judges (which isn't very much of a control...). (And the President can withhold information from Congress on the grounds of "executive privilege", but that isn't a Constitutional check.)
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Old 04-19-2003, 02:36 PM   #7
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I've got only a little time, so this is gonna be a really short post......


I'll just say that yes, I agree with Luke in that the exectutive branch is the strongest........I'll just say that all the above stated reasons are good enough for me now......

I'll be back later when I have more time......

Peace and Love,
William
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Old 04-21-2003, 06:35 PM   #8
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Originally posted by Boy Genius
I've got only a little time, so this is gonna be a really short post......


I'll just say that yes, I agree with Luke in that the exectutive branch is the strongest........I'll just say that all the above stated reasons are good enough for me now......

I'll be back later when I have more time......

Peace and Love,
William
....hey! do you realize how annoying it is to have to read posts that don't have any support!!

Post some.
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