Exercise of Executive Branch Power
The president also exercises executive power to influence the judicial branch. The president has the power to nominate Supreme Court justices, court of appeals judges, and district court judges. The nominations must be confirmed by the Senate. These judges serve until they resign, die, or are removed from office through a rigorous impeachment process. In this way, the president can have a lasting impact on the judiciary.
Limits on Executive Branch Power
Since Congress has legislative power, it can also pass legislation to curb the power of the president. Under the Constitution, the president is the commander in chief, with the authority to direct the armed forces. However, the ability to declare war lies with Congress. This has not prevented presidents from committing large numbers of troops to foreign conflicts without a formal declaration of war. In 1973t Congress passed the War Powers Act, legislation that limits the president's power to send troops into hostile situations without congressional approval. While the law was meant to prevent presidents from negating Congress's war power, some constitutional scholars claim that the law interferes with the president's power as commander in chief. Subsequent presidents have claimed not to be bound by it, but none have challenged it in court.The judicial branch also serves as a check on presidential power. Through judicial review, it can rule that executive orders or executive branch implementation of laws passed by Congress are unconstitutional. Some court decisions limit presidential power further. In United States v. Nixon (1974), the Supreme Court unanimously ordered that the president must turn over evidence subpoenaed by a special prosecutor in an investigation of the conduct of executive branch officials. Nixon had claimed the right to withhold the material on the grounds of executive privilege, a president's constitutionally implied right to keep executive branch communications private. While granting that a president had limited privilege in areas of national security or diplomacy, the court's decision struck down the claim when it interfered with due process of law. In Clinton v. Jones (1997), the court ruled that a sitting president can be involved in a civil lawsuit and can be required to submit to questioning.
Checks and Balances and Limits on Executive Power
Effects of Term Limits and Public Opinion on the Executive Branch
Public opinion cannot be underestimated as a check on a president's power. Ultimately, the president and the members of Congress are accountable to the voting public. If they are not doing their jobs to the satisfaction of the people, they can be replaced in the next election. As such, a president with favorable ratings is likely to be able to convince Congress to enact the legislation the president favors, as members of Congress recognize that their ability to work with a popular president will help them in reelection. Conversely, Congress will be less likely to work with a president with poor approval ratings.