What does “the President (and only the President)” mean?

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7 Responses

  1. C Smith says:

    Sounds like one of those “contextual arguments”. You probably had to be there.

    Seems like it’s trying to limit usupers.

  2. Bruce Boyden says:

    Is that phrase used in any other statutes? Legislators love to copy.

  3. Jon Weinberg says:

    A wide variety of statutes explicitly authorize the President to delegate to some other officer authority granted to him by the statutes in question; in those circumstances, the President would *not* need to sign off on that other officer’s decision. If a statute is silent about delegation, whether the President can delegate authority granted by that statute (say, by executive order) is a matter of legislative intent. The language you quote was designed to make the legislative intent clear.

  4. Brian Kalt says:

    Bruce, the phrase does not appear in any other statute.

    Jon, I think you’re right. It appears to be an effort to negate 3 U.S.C. § 301, which gives presidents the power to completely delegate any of their statutory authority. Other statutes (see, e.g., 22 U.S.C. § 7431) restrict the president and just use different phrasing.

    Thanks, Jon.

  5. Jon Weinberg says:

    As to your first question, Brian, consider Knauff v. Shaughnessy, 338 US 537 (1950). I mention this case because I teach it (though this aspect isn’t why). Congress authorizes the President to make rules under which it will be illegal for “any alien to . . . enter . . . the United States except under such reasonable rules, regulations, and orders, and subject to such limitations and exceptions as the President shall prescribe.” The President issues an order delegating his rulemaking authority to the Secretary of State, who in turn promulgates rules giving certain authority to exclude to the Attorney General. The AG excludes Knauff. Knauff protests, among other things, that the statute unconstitutionally delegated power to the President, and Congress rejects that, noting in passing that the President could delegate his own authority to lower federal officers. But nobody takes seriously the argument that the President had to personally sign the order excluding Knauff or the regulations pursuant to which he was excluded.

  6. Jon Weinberg says:

    Oops — a victim of retro-editing. My last comment was an answer to a question posed in a *previous* version of yours . . .

  7. Brian Kalt says:

    Sorry about that. I should have just updated instead of overwriting.

    To those keeping score at home, my question that Jon was answering was whether there are any examples of silent statutes being interpreted as implicitly allowing for delegation. Given the existence of 3 U.S.C. § 301, I’m guessing there are plenty of others too.