To provide an introductory overview of the unit, show the six-minute thematic documentary, The Powers Herein Granted: The President and Federal Power, available at www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jh8Qpa4Aazw.
Distribute Handout A: The President and Federal Power and The United States Constitution.
Divide the class into pairs or trios and assign one section of the Constitution (in the first column of the chart) to each group. Have students become “experts” on their section of the Constitution, and then jigsaw into new groups with one member representing each section.
Reconvene the class and use an overhead to guide discussion and fill in the chart. See the Answer Key for suggested responses. Students may mention additional powers and responsibilities of the President, including his powers as Commander in Chief and to negotiate treaties. For activities on these presidential powers, see units two and four.
Conduct a large group discussion to answer the questions:
- Does the President have any lawmaking power? If so, how much?
- The President is charged with executing (or carrying out) the laws. Why do you think the Founders gave this power to a separate branch of government rather than the branch that makes laws?
- At the Constitutional Convention, some delegates worried that the President would become too much like a king. A single executive, one worried, was the “fetus of monarchy.” In describing the executive power, did the Founders do a good job of preventing that possibility?