HUGE NEWS: Executive Orders Are NOT Binding Laws
Wow! There is no specific mention of Executive Orders in the Constitution… the power to issue an Executive Order is implied, Presidents argue, by Article 2 of the Constitution: ‘the executive power shall be vested in a President of the United States’ is one quote they cite. ‘The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States’ is another. And finally: ‘He shall take care that the laws shall be faithfully executed.’
Wow again! Though Presidents have claimed that these phrases give them power to do what they want with Executive Orders, these orders technically don’t have the full weight of laws, which only Congress can pass. Many people are getting the impression – including us, until we looked more closely – that an Executive Order was a way for the President to short-circuit Congress. It turns out, that’s far from true.
Rather, Executive Orders are binding legally ONLY on members of the Executive Department of the Federal government. Everyone else in the United States of America doesn’t have to pay any attention to them at all – that is, isn’t “bound” by them in any way.
So, President Donald Trump can’t say, for example, via Executive Order that immigrants from certain countries aren’t allowed in the US. He can only say via Executive Order that members of the Executive — that is, the Executive Departments of the Federal government — have to do what they can to keep immigrants from those countries out of the US.
If he (or any President) issues an Executive Order that claims to have the full force of law, this is actually violation multiple parts of the Constitution.
Executive Orders are not legislation! An Executive Order issued by the President can only help enforce laws already passed by Congress. He can’t use them to make up laws. They aren’t laws.
So for sure, people mobilizing locally to create ‘sanctuary cities’ are not bound by Executive Orders – as they don’t work an Executive Department of the Federal Government.
Wherever you stand politically it is good to know how your laws are made, what powers each branch of government really has (or doesn’t have), what your Constitution actually says, and what you can do as a citizen about supporting laws you like and changing laws you don’t!