Section 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:
Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.
The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such Majority, and have an equal Number of Votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately chuse by Ballot one of them for President; and if no Person have a Majority, then from the five highest on the List the said House shall in like Manner chuse the President. But in chusing the President, the Votes shall be taken by States, the Representation from each State having one Vote; A quorum for this Purpose shall consist of a Member or Members from two thirds of the States, and a Majority of all the States shall be necessary to a Choice. In every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the Senate shall chuse from them by Ballot the Vice President.
The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.
No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.
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, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.
The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be encreased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.
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."
**Comment: A perennial difficulty in the constitutional interpretation of presidential power is the meaning of the first sentence of Article II: "The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America." What is executive power? Presidents have held differing views of the powers inherent in their office. William Howard Taft took the view that the president had only the powers expressly given him in the other sections of Article II. In contrast, Theodore Roosevelt held that by virtue of the opening sentence of Article II the president, as steward of all the people, could do anything on behalf of the people that was not expressly denied him in the Constitution. On several momentous occasions Franklin D. Roosevelt asserted the power to do things expressly forbidden by the Constitution. For example, before the United States entered World War II, he traded some old destroyers to Britain in exchange for military bases, although Article IV, Section 3, of the Constitution gives Congress the exclusive power to dispose of property belonging to the United States. Abraham Lincoln also suggested that a president must occasionally suspend part of the Constitution to preserve the whole.
Section 1 of Article II describes the electoral college system for electing the president. Paragraph 3 was superseded by the 12th Amendment. Paragraph 6 suggests that a president who is unable to discharge the powers and duties of the chief executive may be removed from office. The inadequacies of this provision became a matter of concern in the 20th century; both Woodrow Wilson and Dwight Eisenhower were ill and clearly unable to function for a time. The 25th Amendment, passed in 1967, spells out a procedure for relieving a disabled president.**
Section 2. 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.
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.
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.
Section 4. The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.
**Comment: Part of the controversy over presidential power turns on the question of what additional powers, if any, are inherent in the president's role as commander in chief. This issue becomes even more complicated when presidents take extraordinary actions in time of war or contend that they may legitimately claim extra power by combining the powers of the chief executive and the commander in chief. The Supreme Court scrutinized this question in Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company v. Sawyer (1952) and decided that the Korean War emergency did not give President Harry S. Truman the right to seize steel companies that were on strike.
Greater controversy has arisen over whether the president may commit the nation's armed forces to war without a congressional declaration of war, although the Constitution states that "the Congress shall have Power... To declare War." Many have argued that the United States should not have become involved in hostilities in Korea and Vietnam without a declaration of war. In 1973, Congress passed the War Powers Resolution over President Nixon's veto. With some qualifications, the resolution permits the president to commit the armed forces "into hostilities or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances" in specified emergencies for a period of 60 days without specific authorization from Congress. Congress reserves the power to terminate the action earlier if it sees fit to do so.
The Constitution gives the president the power to make treaties with the advice and consent of the Senate. It is important to note that the president frequently negotiates agreements with other governments that are not referred to the Senate for its advice and consent. Two kinds of executive agreements are made: those which the president is authorized by Congress to make, or which he lays before Congress for approval and implementation; and those which he enters into simply by virtue of his diplomatic powers and his powers as commander in chief. The line between executive agreements and treaties is difficult to define. Congress has often been uneasy about what many conceive to be a presidential method of avoiding advice and consent.
Although the president is endowed by the Constitution with considerable power to appoint officials, nothing is explicitly said about his power to remove them. Arguably, the power to remove may be considered part of the power to appoint, although Supreme Court decisions have narrowed the president's removal power to "purely executive officers," not including commissioners of independent regulatory commissions or the War Claims Commission.
Presidents have long asserted executive privilege, that is, the privilege of withholding testimony about confidential conversations between a president and his close advisers. In United States v. Richard M. Nixon (1974), the Supreme Court held that executive privilege does exist but that it is not absolute. In cases where "the legitimate needs of the judicial process outweigh presidential privilege," the privilege must give way. The Court did not speak to the question of whether or not the privilege would have to give way in a congressional hearing; it spoke only of the judicial process.**