220 American Government and Politics
Spring, 2000

Kenneth Janda, Instructor

Week 8: The Presidency and the Bureaucracy
Lecture 2: The Office and the Person

May 17


I. Topics for today

  • Million Mom March vs. the NRA's television ad
  • U.S. v. Morrison:
    • A sharply divided Supreme Court struck down a law allowing suit in national courts for violence against women.
    • The Court ruled 5-4 that Congress overstepped its power when it gave women a right to sue their attackers.
    • Congress had no power to legislate in this area under either
      • the "interstate commerce" clause
      • nor the "equal protection" clause of the 14th Amendment
    • Remedies for such cases must be sought in state courses.
  • Yesterday's visitors from Latvia and Lithuania
    • Stressed the difference between parliament and congress
    • Stressed the importance of parties in socializing people into the system
    • Noted that public opinion in both countries would favor the death penalty
    • Stressed their admiration of our presidency

II. The OFFICE of the presidency must be distinguished from the PERSON of the president.

  • Consider the design of the office according to the Constitution.
    • The presidency embodies a UNITARY rather than a PLURAL executive.
      • One person has sole responsibility for all executive functions.
      • Compare this situation with the many executive offices usually independently elected in state government.
      • The unitary office provides more potential for majoritarian government than a plural executive.
    • The office of president is also regarded as the HEAD OF GOVERNMENT.
      • Unlike a prime minister, the president heads a separate but coordinate branch of government.
        • A prime minister heads both law-making and law-implementing and is thus in a more effective position to command the government.
        • Thus, the design of the presidency clearly reflects limitations on government.
      • However, the president derives his power as head of government from other features of the office denied prime ministers.
        • The president is in charge of the military.
        • He is popularly elected by a national constituency.
        • His term of office is longer than popular branch of the Congress.
        • He also has some legislative authority.
    • 3. Unlike a prime minister, a president has additional authority from being HEAD OF STATE.
      • The president is the nation's ceremonial leader and authority figure.
      • The president is also the national symbol and personification of nation, especially in foreign relations.
      • One can't imagine a member of congress treating the president like the House of Commons treated the Prime Minister.
  • The presidency has both executive and legislative functions within our governmental system.
  • The presidency also exercises the function of LEADERSHIP within the political system.