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Chapter 2
Part 2
Presidential Control
Learning Objectives
The president controls agencies through appointing and removing firing agency heads.The President must appoint and the Senate must confirm officers of the US.There are separate standards for inferior officers.Terms of office create independent agencies.The person who appoints may also remove officers, except Article III judges.
Executive Power
Vesting and Take Care Clauses
“The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.” U.S. Const. art. II, § 1.Article II says that the President, specifically, “shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed.” Art. II, § 3.Together, these define the source of the president's domestic powers
Art II, sec. 2, cl 2 - the Appointments Clause
"[The President] shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint... all other [principal] Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law:but the Congress may by Law vest the Appointment of such inferior Officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the Courts of Law, or in the Heads of Departments."
The Unitary Executive
Do all of the executive branch powers belong to the president him/herself?Can the president tell the AG how to fire Mueller?Can he only fire the AG?Why does it matter whether the president has the power or the secretary has the power, subject tobeginingfired?How does the Appointments Clause fit into this analysis?If it is the president's power, why should the Senate care who he appoints?What if the Senate will not confirm a secretary?
Recess Appointments
Article 2, Section 2:The President shall have Power to fill up all Vacancies that may happen during the Recess of the Senate, by granting Commissions which shall expire at the End of their next Session.Why was this included?The legal questions in the recent caseCan the Senate stay in session while the members are at home?Does the vacancy have to occur during the recess?
Who is aPrincipalOfficer?
Itis usually clear who is aprincipalofficer, subject to confirmation by the Senate, in existing agencies.Or if Congress, by law, designates an office as a principle officer.Controversies arise with new agencies, such as the independent counsel in theMorrison v. Olsoncase.Inferior officers are hard to tell from ordinary employees and there are a lot more of them, so there is more occasion for challenges.
Free Enterprise Fund v. PCAOB, 130 S.Ct. 3138 (2010) - I
Government agency that regulates accounting firms.Members appointed by the SEC commissioners, not the PresidentThe Court quoted a prior opinion in which it had said that ‘‘whether one is an ‘inferior’ officer depends on whether he has a superior,’’ and that ‘‘ ‘inferior officers’ are officers whose work is directed and supervised at some level by other officers appointed by the President with the Senate’s consent.’
Who Controls their Work?
The Board’s rules and its imposition of sanctions on accounting firms are subject to approval and alteration by the SEC.Members of the Board are removable ‘‘at will’’ by the SEC Commissioners.Is this sufficient control to establishthemembersareinferior officers, thus appointable by the SEC rather than the president?
President Nixon and the Independent Counsel
Great crisis in presidential control.The Saturday night massacreNixon orders the AG to fire the independent counsel who was investigating WatergateTwo people later, he orders AAG Bork to fire him, probably in a deal already set up by the AG.Nixon's indirect firing of the independent prosecutor was the background for this lawWhat was Clinton's biggest political mistake?Not vetoing the renewal of the Independent counsel law.
Morrison v. Olson, 487 US 654 (1988)
Who appointedthe independent counsel?Why class of officer must this then be?Whocould remove the Olson independentcounsel for cause?Who can remove that person, i.e., what is the chain of presidential control?
The Core Function Standard for Inferior Officers
Is the independent counsel an "inferior" official?Does the independent counsel have a policy making role?Is this a critical area for the president to control the exercise of discretion?How does the president retain control?Why will the independent counsel process always be political?
What was the key issue in Olson?
The limitation of the removal power to good cause, rather than at-willDoes this impermissibly interfere with the president's power to carry out the laws?Majority says no, focusing on the preservation of separation of powersScalia saw this as a stark limitation on the president's power to exclusively control the executive branch.
Was Scalia Right?
What was he worried about as regards the power of the office?The relevant statute gave the independent counsel “full power and independent authority to exercise all investigative and prosecutorial functions” of the U.S. Department of Justice and the Attorney General.How did this play out in Whitewater, the Clinton investigation?Why will this be in the news soon?What would it cost you to be investigated if you were a junior White House counsel?
Congressional Determinations
If the Congress establishes that the position is an inferior officer, the courts have not second-guessed it.This might change if Congress created an inferior office that was clearly the job of a principal officer.Be careful of circular argumentsJust because an officer is not required to be appointed under the appointment's clause, that does not prevent the court from finding that the position is covered by the Appointment's Clause – this is Lucia.The real problem is that the court will also not second guess Congress determining that an officer must be confirmed by theSenate, complicating filling executive branch offices.
Example: General Counsel to a Cabinet Agency
What is the classification of the Secretary of Veterans Affairs?What are the duties of the General Counsel to the Secretary?Is the general counsel an employee, inferior officer, or principle officer of the US?Much more authority than just an employeeDoes the general counsel make decisions that affect agency policy or enforcement?What is the level and right of supervision by the Secretary?
Stopped here
Look at the current special councilregs
Tenure of Office Act – 1867
If Congress is silent on removal, the officer serves at the discretion of the PresidentThis Act limited the right of presidents to remove cabinet members without the consent of the Senate.President Andrew Johnson removed the Secretary of WarWas impeached, but not removed by one vote.There are now no limitations on removal of Cabinet Officers
Myers v. US, 272 US 52 (1926)
President Wilson discharged an Oregon postmaster without causePostmaster sued for back pay under a law passed after the Tenure in Office Act that required the senate to approve appointment and removal of postmastersWhy all this concern about a postmaster?Chief Justice and Ex-President Taft wrote the opinion, which found the Tenure in Office Act and related acts an unconstitutional limit on presidential power.
Humphrey’s Executor v. US, 295 US 602 (1935)
Less than 10 years later, Meyers is again at issue - what is the political change over that period?Why was the FTC controversial at that time?What was the restriction on removing FTC commissioners?How did the lawsuit arise?President fired Humphrey from the FTCHumphrey died and his executor sued for the pay for the rest of his term
Why did the court change its view on the removal power?How is a postmaster different from an FTC commissioner?(This has not been important in later cases)What type of agency does this create?Where does the independence come from?Are the agencies independent if the President is in office long enough to appoint all the members?
Typical Characteristicsof an Independent Agency
(1) they are headed by multi-member groups, rather than a single agency head;(2) no more than a simple majority of these members may come from one political party;(3) the members of the group have fixed, staggered terms, so that their terms do not expire at the same time; and(4) they can only be removed from their positions for ‘‘cause”
How Independent are Independent Agencies?
The President usually gets to pick the chair from among the existing commissioners.Doesnot control policy, but can influence what issues are addressedNot subjectto OIRA (covered later)Can be subjected to other executive controls as determined by Congress.Presidential influence increases the longer a party holds the presidency.
How could the president fire an FTC commissioner?
In theory the president could state a cause and fire a commissioner, but it has not happenedIt has not been an issue because they get hounded out of office if there is causeDoes this mean that they always stay when the president in unhappy with them?This is an area where the presidents have not challenged the court
Free Enterprise Fund v. Public Company Accounting Oversight Board, 130 S.Ct. 3138 (2010) - II
PCAO Boardmembers are inferiorofficersappointed by the SEC Commissioners.SEC commissionershave terms of office and can only be removed for good cause.Is there a problem with thePCAO Board members being only removed cause?What is the presidential chainof control?
The Politics of the Sentencing Commission
Started out as a way to moderate unreasonable sentencesSentences were made longer and the judges lost discretion to shorten them.White collar criminals did more jail timeFirst time drug offenders did a lot more time.Limited and eliminated various ways to shorten a sentence (no parole)End result was the opposite of the intention
Mistrettav. United States, 488 U.S. 361 (1989)
The US Sentencing Commission is an independent commission in the Judicial BranchThe members are Article III judges appointed by the PresidentThere are no terms of officeThe Court upheld the law allowing the president to remove them, even though this is not an executive branchagency (does not do enforcement itself).
Removal Wrap Up
What if the statute says an officer serves until removed for good cause, but does not specify a term of office?Think about what would happen if they could not be removed except for cause.Remember civil serviceTerms of office for agency heads create independent agenciesThese agencies are still executive branch agenciesCanthe head of a department remove inferior officers he has appointed?Unless Congress creates a term of office, if you appoint someone, you can fire them.Free Enterprise Fund calls into question nested boards with terms of office.
Regulatory Review and Coordination
Review: Executive Orders
Orders from the President to agency headsSets policy on discretionary decisionsNot defined by the Constitution or legislation
Types of Executive Orders
Domestic Policy Orders Security Orders
Domestic Policy Orders Security Orders
Domestic Policy Orders Security Orders
Limits on Executive Orders
Cannot change budgetary allocationsCannot change statutory dutiesThe Gag Rule controversy (Rust v. Sullivan, 500 U.S. 173 (1991)Cannot abrogate due processNo directing the result of an adjudicationCannot legislatePresident cannot make binding regulations by Executive OrderCannot use them to change policy for Independent Agencies
OMB/Executive Order Review
Executive branch review done through executive ordersThe purpose is to “reform and make more efficient the regulatory process"We are going to look at this in more detail in Chapter 5, since the big debates over cost benefit analysis are in rulemaking.
Line Item Veto -Clinton v. City of New York, 524 U.S. 417 (1998)
What is a line item veto?Why was a line item veto unnecessary in the founders vision of the operation of federal budget?How have things changed?Why do presidents want them?How might a line item veto cause a president problems?What separation of powers issues does it raise?How did the court rule in this case?





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