Executive orders are an implied power based on the Take Care Clause. They carry the force of law only when they are grounded in an act of Congress or in the Constitution. This requirement was underlined by the Supreme Court in Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer (1952). In that case, President Truman had attempted, as a matter of national security, to take over the country’s steel mills while they were dealing with labor union strikes. The Supreme Court ruled the executive order was unconstitutional because it was not based on any existing laws or constitutional provisions. Executive orders are therefore built upon interpretations of existing laws and Constitutional clauses. Many of these interpretations come from the Office of General Counsel located in the Office of Management and Budget, or from the Office of White House Counsel located within the White House staff.
Excepted from Trust and The Presidency, Part 5 of 7.
Image: George W. Bush signing an Executive Order. White House.