The Arms of Government

The Arms of Government

TheArms of Government

ArticleII, Section II

Itdescribes the powers the office holder shall wield. These powersincludeThe (Constitution of the United States of America article II, SECTIONII):1) Being the commanding authority of all the entire defense forcesand the militia (law enforcement bodies in today’s terms). However,the section provides that the President shall command the forces ofthe nation upon professional advice of executive in the top hierarchyof various concerned affiliates of the defense system and lawenforcement authorities 2) The power to pardon persons who have beenconvicted due to breaking the law. This excludes people underimpeachment due to reasons best found by the indicting authority. 3)The authority to make treaties with other countries, but only whentwo thirds of the senate consent or approve the terms of the treaty .4) Nominate qualified Americans as ambassadors, secretaries, consuls,Judges of the Supreme Court. The section also mentions that otherpublic officers whose appointing authorities are not specified in theconstitution or through an Act of the Congress shall be appointees ofthe President. 5) The powers to fill up positions that fall vacantwhen the Senate is not on duty by reasons of recess through offeringcommissions that are subject to expiration at the end of the nextsession.

Howpower is allocated between the Legislature (the congress), TheJudiciary (The Supreme Court and Federal courts), and the Executive(The President, the Cabinet, and other government departments andagencies) (Knight 12).

Thefederal government has the above tree branches that share power onthe basis of two major principles: separation of powers and checksand balances. As described by the first three articles, where each ofbranches has autonomous duties and mandates to the people and onebranch may not interfere with the functions of the other unlessprovided by law. Separation of powers allows each branch to executeits mandate without the interferences of the other. This principlealso authorizes any of the branches to challenge an infringement fromany of the other two branches. However, this does not mean that theynot interrelate or cooperate with other in the execution offunctions. In fact, they need each for the government to function. Separation of powers gives the legislature the powers to enactlegislation, the executive as the implementing arm, while thejudiciary ensures that all arms of government adhere to the enactedlaw when conducting official duties. For example, the Congress passesa law on federal tax, the President enforces by appointing the topofficial to head the revenue authority, and Judiciary through courtsdetermines disputes concerning taxation.

Thesecond principle, which is that of checks and balances, gives eachbranch the authority to challenge the excesses of the other throughways prescribed by the law (Kowalski and Kathiann 28). An example ofchecks and balances in action is the Supreme Court ruling onAffordable Care Act. Congress passed it, the President assented toit, but it was challenged in court by dissenting law makers and othergroups.

Indeed,the system works because each arm of government has some leverageover the other in many ways. The Judiciary has the Supreme Court asthe highest court where all disputes must stop after the finalinterpretation. The President has executive orders that are legalways of pursuing a public interest issue that Congress may reject dueto partisanship. The Congress has a constitutional leeway thatcompels the President to assent to bills within a specified time,beyond which they become law even without assenting. Furthermore, theCongress must approve all government appointments.

Thelines of delineation are clear on some constitutional provisions, butnot on others. The constitution is clear about the role of Presidentas the commanding figure of nation’s defense forces and lawenforcement bodies. However, there are some ambiguities about thedeclaration of war. The lines of delineation are not clear on whobetween the President and the Congress has the legal (constitutional)powers to declare war. Legal experts rely on the past experiences ofthe country with war to debunk this blurred constitutional provision.Article 1, section 8, lists the “declaration of war” as one ofthe powers of the legislature. The line of delineation, in this case,lies in the President’s executive powers to conduct war rather thanthe declaration of war. In the history of American involvement ofwar, the Congress only formally declared war few of the times. In therest of times, the president only announces the state of war and wentahead to engage in foreign aggression through his forces. TheCongress gave authority to the U.S. forces to employ as much force asnecessary against the enemy. One would assume that the governmentavoids formal declarations of war as a tactic to deprive the enemy ofthe protections under Hugo Grotius rules of peace and war that guideinternational law on conflicts.

TheFormat of the Declaration

Technically,a resolution to declare war can only arise if the there the generalfear of aggression from an enemy. The Executive may initiate thebill through a member of the Congress (Hallett 19). The house thenpasses the resolution through a vote or unanimous agreement. Bypassing the resolution, the Congress also allow the government to useall the available resources to attack the enemy. However, this is nothow it always works. In recent history, the congress authorized thepresident to use resources against the enemy in manner that appearedto be an engagement in war by the government rather than a formaldeclaration by the Congress. It has not always worked within thisformat due to the circumstantial differences of war.


Hallett,Brien. DeclaringWar: Congress, the President, and What the Constitution Does Not Say., 2012. Print.

Knight,Barbara B. Separationof Powers in the American Political System.Fairfax, Va: George Mason University Press, 1989. Print.

Kowalski,Kathiann M, and Kathiann M. Kowalski. Checksand Balances: A Look at the Powers of Government.Minneapolis: Lerner Publications, 2012. Print.

TheConstitution of the United States of America.Champaign, Ill: Project Gutenberg, 1990. Internet resource.