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Constitutional Presidential Duties & Powers

By Levi Clancy for Student Reader on

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Article II of the Constitution defines the presidency. The president must be a U.S.-born citizen, at least thirty five years old and must have lived in the U.S. for a minimum of fourteen years. The duties and powers of the president are summarized as follows:

  1. Serve as administrative head of nation. The Constitution gives little guidance on these administrative duties, only clarifying that the president shall take care that the laws of the United States are faithfully executed.

  2. Act as commander in chief of military. The Constitution names the president as the armed forces' highest-ranking officer, but gives only Congress the power to declare war. Working around this limitation, most presidents have used the military without declaring war.

  3. Convene Congress. The president is allowed to call Congress into special session on extraordinary occasions, and is also required to periodically inform Congress of the state of the union.

  4. Veto legislation. The president an veto any bill or resolution enacted by Congress, except for joint resolutions proposing constitutional amendments. Congress can override a presidential veto with two-thirds majority vote in each house.

  5. Appoint various officials. The president may appoint federal court judges, ambassadors, cabinet members and many other officials. Many appointments are subject to Senate approval.

  6. Make treaties. The president can make foreign treaties with the advice and consent of a two-third majority of the Senate. Presidents have interpreted the right to "receive Ambassadors" as permission to formally recognize other nations.

  7. Grant pardons. Except Impeachment, the president may pardon any United States crime committed by individuals.