Perhaps the clearest, most dangerous, recent example of this false claim is shown in his Presidential Statement of Dec. 30, 2005, paragraph 6, where he outrageously declares, "The executive branch shall construe section 8104, relating to integration of foreign intelligence information, in a manner consistent with the President's constitutional authority as Commander in Chief, including for the conduct of intelligence operations, and to supervise the unitary executive branch. Also, the executive branch shall construe sections 8106 and 8119 of the Act, which purport to prohibit the President from altering command and control relationships within the Armed Forces, as advisory, as any other construction would be inconsistent with the constitutional grant to the President of the authority of Commander in Chief." Source:
In other words, Congress can go fly a kite as far as trying to control him in matters of National Defense, because he can "construe" the laws anyway he chooses, even construe them as null and void. And he even violates the Constitution, literally, when he denies that Congress has the authority to alter the "command and control relationships within the Armed Forces." The Constitution specifically gives these powers to Congress, not to the President, when it says, "The Congress shall have Power . . . To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;" (See Article I, Section 8.)
This question of Presidential Authority vs. Congressional Authority is the essential issue which underlies the present furor in the news about "spying on American citizens without a Court Order" and " the President's duty to defend the Country," and "Presidential Authority," and "Executive Authority," and " powers of the President in time of war, and "the powers of the Commander In Chief."
Please note that the President is not "Commander In Chief" of the Country, or of the Congress, or of the Judiciary, or even technically of all the Military, because the National Guard is under State authority until such time as it is called into Federal service. (See Article II. Section 2.)
Here are the exact words of the Constitution on these matters:
The President Administers The Laws That Congress Makes: "The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America."
(See Article II, Section 1.) And the President is required to execute the laws faithfully, whether he agrees with them or not. Article II, Section 3 says, " . . . he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed . .
." So the President does not get to pick and choose which laws he will administer and which ones he will not administer. He is required by the Constitution to administer faithfully each and every Law enacted by Congress.
If he fails in this obligation, Congress can remove him from office.
Article II, Section 4 says, "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." (Failure to execute the laws would be a high misdemeanor.) The House Of Representatives has the sole power of impeachment: "The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment." (See Article I, Section 2.) And the Senate has the sole power to try these Impeachments. "The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. (See Article I. Section 3.)
Furthermore, there is no limit on the degree to which Congress can direct the activities of the President, if it chooses to do so by a duly-enacted law. Yes, the President does have some implied powers, necessary to do his job, but these are immediately over-ridden if Congress exercises its authority to enact a Law on the subject.
As Commander In Chief, the President is responsible for the day-to-day administration of the military, including the responsibility for taking quick action in the event of time-sensitive emergencies. Article II, Section 2 says, "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;" But quick action for emergencies is quite different from setting long-term military policies.
Some people believe that the President magically acquires new policy-making powers in his role as Commander In Chief. There is no Constitutional basis for this belief. In fact, the Constitution specifically says that Congress, not the President, has the authority to establish all the rules for the "government and regulation" of the military. "The Congress shall have Power . . . To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;" (See Article I, Section 8.) This affirms that Congress can exert detailed control over all aspects of the military, to whatever degree Congress chooses to exert it.
The President's authority as Commander In Chief is only as great as Congress is willing to delegate to him. At any time, Congress could pass a Law stripping the President of whatever authority he thinks he has over the military. The Constitution certainly does not provide the President with some kind of Personal Military, to control as he wishes. No. As in all other cases, the President acts as the agent and instrument of Congress, faithfully executing the Laws enacted by Congress, and subject to removal if he fails to perform this job.
Note: For all references to the United States Constitution, I have used the official version available through the Government Printing Office at
Blessings to you.
May God help us all.