Checking and Balancing those Pesky Executive Orders

February 6, 2017

Trumps signs Exec Order

And a Thing or Two about Twitter

By: Andrea

“Don’t they realize he wasn’t actually the one tweeting? It was his press secretary!” I exclaimed to my coworker as we watched the news pour in after a State of the Union address several years ago.

A reporter was slamming a congressman over a disparaging message he had “disrespectfully” tweeted from his front row seat in the Capitol, while the president was delivering his prime time speech.

Gone are those days though. Now “live tweeting” the SOTU is apparently the norm these days.

But my point, at least at the time, was while just about every politician has a Twitter account, most of the time they aren’t actually the ones tweeting. Of course, we can think of a few instances where this isn’t true. But for most politicians (at least the ones who like to play it safe), it’s their press team doing it for them.

I’ve often wondered why President Trump doesn’t follow the same guidelines. Why, for the love of all that’s good in our country, doesn’t his press team take control of his Twitter account? His Tweets are often emotionally charged, and quite frankly make him look ridiculous and unpresidential. I know, I know. I’m preaching to the choir here.

Over the weekend, I spotted this tweet from our President. It said, “What is our country coming to when a judge can halt a Homeland Security travel ban…”Donald Trump tweet


Well, Mr. President, our country is coming to this: it’s called checks and balances. It’s an inspired part of our Constitution set up to make sure no one branch of government oversteps its power. In this case, a federal judge in Washington state was doing just that.

The president, in his tweet, was upset over a federal judge halting his executive order to temporarily stop refugees from coming into the U.S. for a few months while the government tries to improve the vetting process. But U.S. District Judge James Robart said, not so fast to its constitutionality. The issue will keep playing out in court over the next little while.

So, what are these executive orders we keep hearing about? And how are they legal?

So far, President Trump has signed 19 executive orders since he took office just a few weeks ago. In comparison, President Obama signed 16 during his first month in office, and 277 during his entire presidency, but both of them signed executive orders on their first day (despite what Whoopi Goldberg may think). So yes, if you’re keeping track, President Trump has already surpassed President Obama in number executive order issued in the first month, though not dramatically.

In a nutshell, an executive order is a formal action made by the President instructing various federal agencies on how to use its resources. This exact kind of power falls under Article II of the Constitution. So, yes, they are legit. Executive orders are not new laws or appropriating new money, they are simply orders to work within the law, not changing law. Those are jobs left for Congress.

Executive orders have been signed since the days of George Washington, one president even issued them by the thousands. A few historical ones you might be familiar with include, The Emancipation Proclamation by Abraham Lincoln, sending federal troops to integrate Little Rock, Ark., schools by Dwight Eisenhower, and the internment of Japanese Americans by Franklin Roosevelt, just to name a few.

Lest you think President Trump is being treated unfairly here, you might remember several of President Obama’s executive actions were also shot down by federal judges. I can think of a few, but his order to allow millions of undocumented immigrants from being deported was one the most well known ones turned down by the federal courts.

So, you see, President Trump isn’t being picked on, despite his complaints on Twitter. In fact, it’s just the opposite. This is a clear illustration of one of our country’s branches of government doing it’s job. It is precisely how our Constitution was designed. When one branch appears to overstep its boundaries, another can call them out on it. Just like they did over the weekend and will continue to do as long as our country exists.

In the meantime, can someone on President Trump’s press team please take hold of his Twitter account?



Interested in learning more about executive orders? Go here or here.

Author: Andrea

Former news reporter and Capitol Hill press guru, wife, mom, and pastry addict.

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