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What is an executive order?
This is a directive issued by the President, which has the power of
a federal law. Presidents use them to create organisations or
committees, for example Kennedy issued Executive Order 10925
to create the President's Committee on Equal Employment
Opportunity, to help with minority representation in federal
government. It generally is used to help in the running federal
government, though, for example Obama's first Executive Order,
which dealt with the release of presidential records. Executive
Orders can be overturned; Congress can make a law overruling
them (but the President can veto them) and US Courts are able to
overturn them and declare them unconstitutional- for example,
one of Clinton's executive orders was overturned by the
Washington DC Court of Appeals, which had prevented the federal
government from entering contracts with organisations that hired
replacements for striking workers. The Court said that all
organisations had the right to hire replacements.
Executive Orders techinicially have no constitutional basis,
however, he is given the power to apply the laws, and executive
orders are seen as necessary to do this.
The First Executive Order was by George Washington, the first US
President, giving instruction to federal officers to prosecute any
citizens interfering with the war between England and France.
This was because Congress was not in session at the time.
Why has there been an increase in use of them?
There has been a distinct increase in the use of executive orders,
for example, Reagan used 6 in his 8 years in office, whilst Bush Jr
used 291 in 8 years. This occurred during Clinton's time, where
he used over 300, to help further his aims.This may have to do
with the increasing divided governments, where the Houses are
not from the President's party. They are increasingly used to
circumvent Congress' wishes. For example, Congress was halting
on Obama's American Jobs Act, so he used executive orders to
bring parts of it to law, such as student loans.
Controversial examples of Executive Orders
· FDR, who holds the record for issued executive orders
(because of the New Deal), issued an executive order that
allowed for Japanese- American internment camps in WW2.
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Truman issued an executive order to desegregate the Armed
Forces in 1948
· In 1957, Eisenhower issued an executive order to deploy
troops to protect the Little Rock Nine, in Little Rock,
· Reagan issued one to stop federal funding for abortions,
which Clinton repealed
· Clinton also issued several executive orders to authorise the
use of US troops in the Balkans
· Bush issued executive orders which restricted access to
Presidential records (repealed by Obama), which was