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21. The Constitution assigned the President shared powers of appointment because several framers worried the power could be abused. In Federalist 76, Alexander Hamilton noted that unconstrained appointment powers would lead to appointments on the basis of favoritism or nepotism and, thus, to corruption rather than competence. Hamilton’s worries must have prevailed because Article 2, Section 2, Paragraph 2, Clause 2 puts some constraints on the power of appointment by requiring the advice and consent of the Senate for the appoint of high officials:
Article 2, Section 2 says the President “He shall nominate, and by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, shall appoint Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, Judges of the Supreme Court, and all other Officers of the United States, whose Appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by Law…” yet …
Even so, Article 2, Section 2, and Article 2, Section 3 also confer some unconstrained powers of appointment:
“… 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 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.”
“… [the President] shall commission all the officers of the United States.”
Image: James A. Garfield. Photographer unknown.
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