Executive Orders: Is the Constitution Being Shackled?
By Brent Daggett
April 17, 2012
“I believe there are more instances of abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments than violent and sudden usurpations.” — James Madison at the Virginia Ratification debates.
When one analyzes Madison’s logic, it seems prophetic, especially if one applies it to executive orders.
History of the Executive Order
In a February 21, 2001 article, The Use and Abuse of Executive Orders and Other Presidential Directives, Todd Gaziano, Director, Center for Legal & Judicial Studies at the Heritage Foundation, illustrated the courses of action leading to the executive order and the legal ramifications.
There are two types of presidential directives:
One of the directives is a broad category including written instructions that are issued by the president to executive branch officials on how they are to carry out their obligations.
The second encompasses written statements communicating a presidential decision or declaration to a broad group of individuals such as government officials, the general public or even foreign governments.
Three months after being sworn in as President, George Washington sent instructions to the Confederation government inquiring them to create a report, “to impress me with a full, precise, and distinct general ideas of the United States.”
Even though the term “executive order” wasn’t used until 1862, the request issued by Washington was the precursor.
Little did Washington know how widespread directives would become in the future.
According to Gaziano, while the list may not be complete, 24 presidential directives are identified.