Executive orders (EO) have been making headlines
recently, and President's Day offers an opportunity
to examine presidential direct action.
FEB 2018 | NWLawyer 31
Presidents have a wide array of tools at their disposal in addition to orders. These include presidential proclamations, presiden- tial memoranda, national security directives, executive agree- ments, and presidential signing statements. At times, the media
will refer to a presidential proclamation as an “executive order.” More
complicated is the fact that, as presidential scholar Phillip J. Cooper writes
in his book "By the Order of the President," some presidential proclamations
“are substantive and carry the same force of law as an executive order.” 1
In general, executive orders, as Cooper writes, direct officers of the
executive branch to “take an action, stop a certain type of activity, alter
policy, change management practices, or accept a delegation of authority
under which they will be responsible for the implementation of law.” A
presidential proclamation “states a condition, declares the law and requires obedience to it, recognizes an event, or triggers the implementation
of a law.” A basic distinction between the two is that an order is directed
toward government officials and a proclamation is directed outside of the
government. Modern executive orders must cite the authority used by the
president to issue the order.
The earliest executive orders were often comments scribbled in the
margins of a map or on a legal brief. Executive orders and presidential proclamations have been published in the Federal Register since 1935, pursuant
to the Federal Register Act. President Kennedy, in signing Executive Order
11030 in 1962, set the basic policy governing the issuance of executive
orders which is followed today.
Franklin D. Roosevelt issued 3,721 executive orders, the highest number
of any president. John Adams, James Madison, and James Monroe each
issued one. The following list contains historically significant executive orders and presidential proclamations, and offers a brief look at this complex
and provocative subject.
by Renee McFarland