Distribute Handout A: The President as Enforcer of the Law 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. Student should brief each other on the contents of their section.
Reconvene the class and use an overhead to guide discussion and fill in the chart. See the Answer Key for suggested responses.
Conduct a large group discussion to answer the questions:
- Why do you think the Founders gave the power of enforcing the law to a separate branch of government than the branch that makes laws, or the branch that interprets them?
- Does the President’s power as Commander in Chief empower him to use military force against American citizens? If so, under what circumstances?
- Does the President have a responsibility to enforce all laws passed by Congress? How do you know?
- How far can the President go in “tak[ing] care that the laws are faithfully executed”? How far should he go?
The Constitution was written in the summer of 1787 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by delegates from 12 states, in order to replace the Articles of Confederation with a new form of government. It created a federal system with a national government composed of 3 separated powers, and included both reserved and concurrent powers of states.
Explore examples of executive orders signed by presidents throughout history and the potential controversies they create.
Executive Power in Times of Crisis
Use this lesson at the end of the unit to have students review executive powers throughout U.S. history.