Sunday, August 31, 2008

President and Vice President Job Duties

There is a lot of discussion about whether Sarah Palin has the experience to be President. Many people seem to be reacting emotionally, based whether they want McCain or Obama to win. They aren't doing what most organizations do when they look at candidates for a job: review all the experience of the candidate against the duties of the job. Of course, Palin has been selected by McCain to be his vice presidential running mate. But for every vice presidential candidate, we must ask if she can also step in as President.

So I decided to look up the job duties of the President and Vice President in the US Constitution . Just looking at the Constitution (see the excerpts below) the President doesn't have all that much to do compared to the Legislature. The Vice President only presides over the Senate and votes when there's a tie.

Based on that Palin is certainly qualified to be Vice President. But so am I and most other Americans.

Oh yes, and there's the part about becoming President. What rereading the Constitution reminded me was how much the Presidents of late have essentially usurped the power of the Legislature. Our real focus should be on recalibrating the power balance between the executive and legislative branches.

I tried to pick out what the Constitution says about the President, Legislature, and Vice President, but I readily admit I may have missed some things. Here's what I did find:

What does the President do?

Article II: The Executive Branch
Section I
Clause 1:

The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows:

Clause 8:

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."

Section 2

Clause 1:

The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States; he may require the Opinion, in writing, of the principal Officer in each of the executive Departments, upon any Subject relating to the Duties of their respective Offices, and he shall have Power to grant Reprieves and Pardons for Offences against the United States, except in Cases of Impeachment.

Clause 2:

He shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur; and he shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law: but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments.

Clause 3:

The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.

Section 3

He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.

That doesn't look like too much. So who's supposed to do all the work? If we look at the Legislative section of the Constitution we see:

Article I: The Legislative Branch

Section 2:
Clause 6:

The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present.

Section 8

Clause 1:

The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

Clause 2:

To borrow Money on the credit of the United States;

Clause 3:

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

Clause 4:

To establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

Clause 5:

To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;

Clause 6:

To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;

Clause 7:

To establish Post Offices and post Roads;

Clause 8:

To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;

Clause 9:

To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;

Clause 10:

To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;

Clause 11:

To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;

Clause 12:

To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

Clause 13:

To provide and maintain a Navy;

Clause 14:

To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;

Clause 15:

To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;

Clause 16:

To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

Clause 17:

To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the Acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings;--And

Clause 18:

To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.

And while we're at it, we should look at the duties of the Vice President.

Section 1

Article I: The Legislative Branch

Clause 6:

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,10 the Same shall devolve on the Vice President,

Section 2:

Clause 4:

The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.


  1. Hi Steve, J, and children...
    Ok, what about the duties of a governor? Does a governor take an oath to serve for a certain number of years? Is there a clause for leaving ones duties as a governor?
    Yes, I think it is a banana slug.

  2. No problem then.

    Palin can become vice president, waiting for a 3 AM call to become president. Obviously, both jobs need to be reframed to observe the framers' intentions--someone call Scalia, quick!

    And no problem with the kid's pregnancy or a special needs baby-- the 'first dude' will rightly take care of them after quitting his slope job and racing snowmachines. Religious conservatives go for that sort of thing.

    It's all so confusing. Perhaps we should consult Sarah's attorney on all this. Better yet, let's hire a script writer and cash in on a damned good pilot for an American soap opera,,,

  3. Well it seems as an "easy job" according to the constitution. So almost anyone could govern the US but only a few of you can do it well.

    As far as I remember the US constitution was enacted in 1787, and when I read parts of it I could feel it was made closely after the Freedom Fight. I don't know how often and when it was amended but the right to have weapon and the fact that only Us born people can hold the most important offices give me that impression.

  4. Anonymous said...

    Who swears-in the cabinet members? Is it President Obama and VP Biden?

  5. You have mentioned great information here... Thanks!
    Job Duties


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