A Glance at Executive Orders

“Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements” is an executive order that was issued by President Donald Trump on January 25, 2017. According to the New York Times a Brooklyn federal court judge “blocked part of the president’s actions, preventing the government from deporting some arrivals who found themselves ensnared by the presidential order.” Judges in other states also issued similar rulings. This executive order received major criticism from various notable political figures including governors of several states, and people protested it in peaceful rallies. Acting Attorney General Sally Yates was fired for refusing to defend this executive order in court. Her replacement, Dana J. Boente, the United States attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, immediately rescinded Ms. Yates’ order.

According to Black’s Law Dictionary, an executive order is “an order issued by or on behalf of the President, intended to direct or instruct the actions of executive agencies or government officials, or to set policies for the executive branch to follow.” The Supreme Court has found some executive orders to be unconstitutional in part or in their entirety. The Supreme Court first overturned an executive order in Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer, 343 U.S. 579 (1952). This case also established some guidelines relative to the President’s power to issue executive orders.

Historically an executive order was first issued by George Washington on April, 22, 1793. Statistically, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued the most executive orders–3,522. President Woodrow Wilson issued the second highest number of executive orders. President William Henry Harrison was the only President who never issued an executive order. Presidents John Adams, James Madison and James Monroe, each issued a single executive order.


Additional Resources

Books @ Pace Law Library:

  • With the Stroke of a Pen: Executive Orders and Presidential Power/ Kenneth R. Mayer – KF5053 .M39 2001
  • The Preeminence of Politics: Executive Orders from Eisenhower to Clinton / Ricardo Jose Pereira Rodrigues – KF5053 .P47 2007
  • By Order of the President: the Use and Abuse of Executive Direct Action / Phillip J. Cooper – KF5053 .C578 2014
  • CIS Index to Presidential Executive Orders & Proclamations – KF70 .A55 1987

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