Executive Orders

Presidents can use executive orders to create laws or to modify laws, rules, and regulations. As an example of law creation, President Truman issued Executive Order 9981 in 1948 to desegregate the military.  In 1965, President Johnson signed Executive Order 11246 to require equal opportunity for minorities in federal contractors’ recruitment, hiring, training, and other employment practices. Other examples of executive orders include the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation used to free enslaved people during the civil war and President Roosevelt’s order in 1942 to force the internment of Japanese citizens during World War Two.  Executive orders have also been used to create federal agencies. The Department of Homeland Security is an example (Executive Order 13228).  Executive orders are also used to modify rules and regulations. These orders may directly specify changes in rules, or they may direct a department or agency to devise changes consistent with presidential policies.  For example, the second Bush administration used Executive Order 13212 to create a task force to monitor and assist the agencies in their efforts to expedite their review of permits or similar actions, as necessary, to accelerate the completion of energy-related projects, increase energy production and conservation, and improve the transmission of energy.

Excerpted from Trust and the Presidency, Part 5 of 7.

Image: Franklin D. Roosevelt, National Archives. FDR issued more executive orders than any other president.

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