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Sitting in the Big Chair

Summarize the specific primary powers of the president and how those powers interact with the legislative and judicial branches.

Clarifying Questions

  • Where do presidential powers come from?
  • Which powers are explicit and which are implicit?
  • How have presidential powers changed over time?


  • appointment power: the U.S. president's authority to fill a government position.
  • bully pulpit: the president's unique visibility in speaking out on issues.
  • commander in chief: the highest authority in a major military force. In the U.S., the president is the commander in chief of the U.S. military.
  • executive pardon: the power of the president to pardon a criminal who has already been convicted.
  • implied powers: those powers of the federal government that are not specifically stated in the U.S. Constitution.
  • inherent power: a power not mentioned in the U.S. Constitution but based on constitutional provisions loosely vesting executive power in the president and asking that they ensure the laws are "faithfully executed."
  • unitary executive: the president, who holds power over the executive branch of the federal government.
  • veto: the power to disapprove a law before it goes into effect. The president can veto any bill passed by Congress.

Background Information

The term "president" can refer to the leader of a government, organization, business, or club. In the U.S. government, according to Article II of the U.S. Constitution (1787), the president is the head of the executive branch (one of three branches of government under the separation of powers), commander in chief of the armed forces, director of foreign policy, manager of the economy, head of state, and leader of his or her political party. The Constitution designates several specific powers for the president distinct from the powers of the legislative and judicial branches of government.

MLA Citation

"Sitting in the Big Chair." History Hub, ABC-CLIO, 2020, historyhub.abc-clio.com/Support/Display/2227939?cid=272. Accessed 28 Feb. 2020.

Entry ID: 2227939

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