Posted in American History, essay, history, Politics

The Constitution: Article Two (Part Two)

Article 2: Part 1

Section Two

Section 2 relates to the President’s duties as far as administrative function.  He is given the right to fill vacancies in the executive department (providing that they are confirmed by Congress), and to take into consideration the opinions of those people. He is also allowed to fill vacancies in Ambassadorial positions.  This part of the job is well shown on Media these days as Congress goes through the process of confirming nominations for the cabinet positions.   It is rare that nominations are not confirmed.  In some cases Nominations are pulled before they take a vote if it proves problematic.  However, there have been a few over the years (

For most confirmations a simple majority vote is taken, from precedent from the first cabinet confirmations.  In current history, Betsy DeVos was confirmed by the Senate President –  Vice President Pence – breaking a tie. This was not a usual occurrence, and all sources I find at the moment point to it not having happened before.

He is also the head of the military services, and can call state militias into the national service. When the US was first created, the national military was very small, and depended on state militias to fill out the ranks. Over the centuries as the National military grew, and due to experiences in the Civil War and Spanish-American war, this was altered.  Each state now has a National Guard, whose primary use is for State needs, but can be called up for Federal service.

For example, President Eisenhower federalized the Arkansas National Guard to “prevent anarchy” and to enforce the law passed by Congress requiring schools to integrate races.  The story of Little Rock 9 is often told as a major point in race relations in the US, as is Eisenhower’s decision to use the National Guard to overrule the school/Governor defiance of the law.

Some states still have their own Defense Force outside the National Guard. Several states had them at one point but are currently inactive either due to States dismissing them due to liability issues or other reasons.  Pennsylvania had a reserve militia, for example, but only during WWII and Korea.  Then again Pennsylvania’s history with state militias is an interesting story for another time.

Section 3

This section essentially lays out the State of the Union address.  The constitution requires that the President occasionally present before Congress his plans for the nation and the status of the nation.  When originally used, it was not required that it happened every year but it has become customary now that it happens every year.

And because I love using segments of West Wing:

This section also makes him the chief diplomat, in that he is expected to meet with Ambassadors and other dignitaries of the world.  He is also to make sure that laws are faithfully adhered to.  Which really goes back to the oath of office.

Section 4:

This section adds that the President is subject to impeachment.

Further Reading:

Civil War Army Organization (Civil

State Defense Force (Wikipedia)

President Sends Troops To Arkansas  (New York Times; September 25, 1957)

The National Constitution Center: Article Two

The National Constitution Center: Five Presidential Cabinet Rejections


A thirty-something Graphic Designer and writer who likes to blog about books, movies and History.

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