BY O. R. Adams Jr.  

O. R. Adams Jr. 2006


The purpose of this paper is to shortly and concisely define, generally, the powers of the President of the United States . The extent of these powers is again under question today.  

Due to our tri-partite system of government, the inherent powers of the president, provided by our Constitution, cannot be reduced or interfered with by Congress. Congress can add to the powers of the president not by changing any of his constitutional powers but by passing valid laws that he then has the duty to enforce by reason of his executive duties.

The extent of the inherent and implied powers of the president cannot, with reason, be specifically defined, because all possible situations and contingencies cannot be foreseen.

We currently have a dispute underway as to the power of the government, under the executive powers, to listen in on telephone conversations and intercept computer transmissions. One thing I would point out in this connection is the fact that under Amendment IV searches are not prohibited and warrants are not always required for them. Only "unreasonable" searches are prohibited.

It is my opinion, based on the wording of Article II of the Constitution, the discernable intent of those who framed and adopted it, and our past history and practices, that the president can and should do what is reasonable under the circumstances to carry out the duties of the president in conducting the affairs of our country. This includes protecting our country and our citizens from attacks and danger from abroad or from within the country.   

In time of war or similar dangers, the President may well have the power to suspend some of our Constitutional rights, depending upon the need and urgency of a particular situation. This has of course been done in the past by prior presidents.

For more comprehensive discussions on these matters, see the following: