Login

Presidential Powers: Major Types & Examples

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: The Presidential Image: Contributing Factors & Importance

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:02 Treaty Power
  • 1:29 Appointment Power
  • 2:46 Legislative Powers
  • 4:08 Pardon Power
  • 5:15 Inherent Powers
  • 6:16 Lesson Summary
Add to Add to Add to

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Login or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Ashley Dugger

Ashley is an attorney. She has taught and written various introductory law courses.

Our United States Constitution established three branches of government, including an executive branch headed by the U.S. president. This lesson discusses the powers and roles of the president.

Treaty Power

We think of our United States president as the 'boss' or CEO of our country. The president can do anything he or she wants, right? Well, not so fast. While the United States Constitution grants many different powers to Congress, it grants only a few specific powers to our president. Let's look at the major types of presidential powers.

First, the president has treaty power. This power comes from the Constitution's Treaty Clause and is the president's authority to negotiate international treaties with other nations. An international treaty is an agreement made between two countries and enforceable as a part of international law. For example, the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA, is a treaty between the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. It was negotiated by President Bill Clinton and went into effect in early 1994. This treaty eliminated almost all trade barriers between the three countries and created the world's largest free trade zone.

Under the Constitution's Article II, the president has the exclusive power to deal with other countries in this manner. However, our Congress must ratify the president's agreement before the treaty can take effect. This means that the treaty must be approved by a two-thirds vote of the Senate.

Appointment Power

Next, let's take a look at the president's appointment power. This power comes from the Constitution's Appointment Clause and is the president's authority to select people to serve in various government roles. Our president has the authority to select all presidential cabinet positions, all Supreme Court justices, all federal judges, all U.S. ambassadors, and several other government roles. However, the president's appointment power is not unchecked. Most appointments, like those for federal judgeships and Supreme Court justices, require a two-thirds approval of the Senate. Others, like ambassadorships, must pass approval by a congressional committee.

Sometimes the Senate rejects a president's choice. For example, President Ronald Reagan nominated Robert Bork to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1987. However, the Senate didn't confirm Bork. Media coverage painted Bork as an extreme conservative and Bork came off as uncaring during his confirmation hearings. Reagan subsequently nominated the more moderate Anthony Kennedy, who was unanimously confirmed.

Legislative Powers

Now let's take a look at the president's legislative powers. These powers also come from Article II and are the president's authority to veto bills and propose new legislation. Congress has the exclusive power to introduce and pass federal legislation. However, the president must approve a bill by signing it into law before that legislation can take effect. Or, a president can choose to veto a bill. A presidential veto simply means that the president rejects and does not sign some or all of the bill into law. Congress must then rewrite the bill or override the president's veto with a two-thirds vote of all members.

The president's legislative powers also include the authority to propose new legislation. The president outlines his or her legislative agenda during the State of the Union address. This is the president's legislative goals and plans for Congress during that particular session. In order to facilitate the agenda, the president asks specific lawmakers to draft, sponsor, and lobby for particular bills. However, it is up to Congress whether or not the proposed bills are passed as legislation.

Pardon Power

Let's examine the president's power to issue executive pardons. This is an action by the U.S. president that lessens or sets aside the punishment for a federal crime. In effect, the Constitution allows the president to undo the final decision of a federal court. Article II gives the president almost unlimited power to grant pardons. All pardons serve to grant clemency, or forgiveness, to a party.

Pardons also serve to restore a party's civil rights in cases where the party lost rights as part of his or her criminal punishment. For example, a pardoned person can be released from prison. A president can even issue a pardon before prosecution for a particular crime has occurred. This prevents further prosecution for that crime. For example, President Gerald Ford famously pardoned Richard Nixon for all crimes he committed or took part in concerning the Watergate scandal. This pardon prevented the federal court system from prosecuting Nixon for those matters.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register for a free trial

Are you a student or a teacher?
I am a teacher
What is your educational goal?
 Back

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 10 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 95 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 2,000 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account
Support