More Information Monday: Executive Orders

More Information Monday: Executive Orders

What are these executive orders I’ve heard so much about?

It is a policy created by the President that does not require a vote by Congress.  It’s the way the President can make things happen with out waiting for Congress to debate or potentially oppose them – it’s a way to quickly make things happen.

Very often, they are regarding trade matters or directives for federal agencies (i.e. Federal Trade Commission, Center for Disease Control, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and about 440 others according to the Federal Register).  These are very necessary in times of national crisis/war when things have to happen quickly.  (Source: 1, 3 and 4). 

5th grade social studies was a long time ago – how does the government work again?

There are 3 branches:

  1. Executive (the President/Cabinet/agencies) – We vote for the President.  The President then then picks their cabinet members and directors of the many agencies (Source: 8)
  2. Legislative (Senate and House of Representatives) – Every state gets 2 Senators.  Then every state gets a certain number of Representatives in the House based on their state’s population. So big, crowded states like California get 53 representatives and Texas get 32 representatives.  More empty states only get 1 representative – looking at you Alaska, Delaware, Montana, North and South Dakota, Vermont and Wyoming. (Source: 5 and 6)
  3. Judicial (Court system) – The highest court is the Supreme Court – what they say goes.  There are a series of lower courts, but when it makes it to the Supremes, what they decide becomes law.  President picks the justices and the Senate then confirms those picks (Source: 7).


Like the lady at the grocery store who writes a check to pay for her groceries, aren’t there also checks and balances in government?


Yes.  Each of the different parts of the government can over rule other branches when it comes to executive orders.  Presidents have the power to create executive orders.  The Legislative branch can then change it by making amendments (basically modifying it how they want).  Then the Judicial branch can rule on whether they think the executive order exceeds the power of the Executive branch.  (Source: 3)

See the chart below if you like pictures better –  (Source:2)


So when you put this all together – how does it work?

Think of it like a family –

  • Executive branch: Mom makes a rule – Vegetables will be eaten at every meal.
  • Legislative branch: Kids debate and then amend the rule – Vegetables will be eaten at 4 dinners a week.
  • Judicial branch: Dad steps in and decides – Mom has power to make the rule because she buys the groceries and makes the meals.

In today’s world – President Trump can issue executive orders at will. Then the other two branches can step and modify or deny them if they feel they need to be changed or are unconstitutional.  They just move slower than the President because there are more people involved and the process is a little more complicated.

What are some famous Executive Orders issued in the past?

  • EO 7034: Issued by Franklin D. Roosevelt – Created the Works Progress Administration (aka a HUGE part of the “New Deal) 
  • EO 9066: Issued by Franklin D. Roosevelt – Authorized the confinement of Japanese Americans to Internment camps during WWII.
  • EO 9981: Issued by Harry S. Truman – Abolished segregation in the military
  • EO 10,988: Issued by John F. Kennedy – Gave federal workers the right to collective bargain
  • EO 11,967: Issued by Jimmy Carter – Directed the U.S. Attorney General to cease investigating and indicting Vietnam War draft evaders
  • EO 12,228: Issued by George W. Bush – Created the Department of Homeland Security in the wake of September 11th.

(Source: 1)


Take a look at Two Sided Tuesday to see how the past 4 Presidents have dealt with executive orders, and how they line up against each other.


(1) “Executive Order.” Gale Encyclopedia of American Law, edited by Donna Batten, 3rd ed., vol. 4, Gale, 2010, pp. 296-299. Gale Virtual Reference Library, Accessed 3 Feb. 2017

CHART: (2) Checks and Balances. Infobase Learning. American History. Web. 10 Feb. 2017. <>.

(3) Dawson, Jill, and Brandon Rottinghaus. “Executive Orders.” Encyclopedia of American Government and Civics, Facts On File, 2008, American History,

(4) Quester, Rachel. “Executive Order Or Memorandum? Let’s Call The Whole Thing An ‘Action’ Facebook Twitter Google+ Email.”, 30 Jan. 2017, executive-order-or-memorandum-lets-call-the-whole-thing-an-action. Accessed 10 Feb. 2017.

(5) “Legislature.” Gale Encyclopedia of American Law, edited by Donna Batten, 3rd ed., vol. 6, Gale, 2011, pp. 294-297. Gale Virtual Reference Library, Accessed 17 Feb. 2017.

(6) “United States House of Representatives Seats by State.” Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 2011. Encyclopedia Britannica, Accessed 17 Feb. 2017.

(7)Yalof, David. “Appointment of Judges.” Encyclopedia of the American Presidency, Revised Edition, Facts On File, 2009. American History, Accessed Jan. 2017.

(8) Valelly, Richard M., American Politics: A Very Short Introduction (2013; online edn, Very Short Introductions online, Sept. 2013),, accessed 02 Mar. 2017.