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Presidential Power

Readings and resources concerning presidential power.


excerpt of handwritten constitution - start of Article II

(Beginning of Article II, from National Archives reproduction of Constitution.)


PBS Crash Course Government & Politics

PBS has produced (2015-16) a series of 48 short videos giving a Crash Course in Government and Politics. You can view them on the PBS site or on YouTube. (The YouTube videos seem to load faster.)

Of particular interest:


25th Amendment (Presidential Succession)

The Presidency

Executive Orders

Christina Greer, How do executive orders work?, Ted-Ed [2017]

Kristen Bialik, Obama issued fewer executive orders on average than any president since Cleveland, Pew Research Ctr. FactTank, Jan. 23, 2017.

Valerie C. Brannon, Cong. Research Serv., LSB 10172, Can a President Amend Regulations by Executive Order? (2018)

Vivian S. Chu & Todd Garvey, Cong. Res. Service, RS20846,  Executive Orders: Issuance, Modification, and Revocation (2014).

Dept. of Justice, Office of Legal Counsel (site visited Jan. 30, 2017) ("All executive orders and proclamations proposed to be issued by the President are reviewed by the Office of Legal Counsel for form and legality, as are various other matters that require the President's formal approval.")

Carrie Johnson, Key Justice Dept. Office Won't Say If It Approved White House Executive Orders, NPR, Jan. 27, 2017.

Dept. of Justice, Julie Percha, Your cheat sheet for executive orders, memorandums and proclamations, PBS NewsHour, Jan. 27, 2017.

Rachel Quester, Executive Order Or Memorandum? Let's Call The Whole Thing An 'Action', NPR, Jan. 30, 2017.





Presidential Documents in Federal Register, Jan. 20, 2017 to present

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(The six most recent documents appear here. Click on the link to see older ones.)

Special Prosecutors

Sam Williams, The History and Law of Special Counsel, Gallagher Blogs (Aug. 14, 2017)

Pardon Power


Elizabeth Rybicki & Michael Greene, Cong. Research Serv., R45769, The Impeachment Process in the House of Representatives (Oct. 10, 2019)

Todd Garvey & Jared P. Cole, Cong. Research Serv., LSB10347, Impeachment Investigations: Law and Process (Oct. 2, 2019)

Jared P. Cole & Todd Garvey, Cong. Research Serv., R44260, Impeachment and Removal (2015)

Federal Agencies

Administrative Law Basics


What Is Administrative Law? Short video from UW Tech Policy Lab.

Maeve P. Carey, Cong. Research Serv., IF10003, An Overview of Federal Regulations and the Rulemaking Process (2019)

Judicial Nominations

Congress is the official website for U.S. federal legislative information. The site provides access to accurate, timely, and complete legislative information for Members of Congress, legislative agencies, and the public. It is presented by the Library of Congress (LOC) using data from the Office of the Clerk of the U.S. House of Representatives, the Office of the Secretary of the Senate, the Government Publishing Office, Congressional Budget Office, and the LOC's Congressional Research Service.

House of Representatives

  • The House Explained includes information about branches of government, legislative process, committees, rules
  • Kids in the House has information for children and teachers. If you want a quick overview, read the material for high school students.

United States Senate

Todd Garvey & Daniel J. Sheffner, Cong. Research Serv., R45442, Congress’s Authority to Influence and Control Executive Branch Agencies (2018)

Staying Current Guide

Students will keep up with national events via news media (e.g., New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, NPR). They might also find it helpful to use legal newsletters or to set up alerts. For instance, Bloomberg BNA's Daily Health Report will cover proposals concerning the Affordable Care Act. Or a student might want to set up an alert in the Congressional Record or news sources for new mentions of key terms, like "separation of powers" or "conflict of interest."

For a variety of sources and techniques, see our Staying Current guide.

Human Rights Tracker

The Columbia Human Rights Law Review has posted the Trump Human Rights Tracker.

With each day bringing fresh news of a damaging initiative by the President of the United States, it is difficult to keep up with all that the new Administration is doing that threatens human rights. To aid journalists, civil society organizations, and the general public, the Columbia Human Rights Law Review and Columbia Law School’s Rightslink, Human Rights Clinic, and Human Rights Institute have launched this regularly updated tool to keep track of Trump’s actions and their impacts on human rights. It summarizes the action taken by the President, identifies the human rights implications, and provides links to sources where readers can find more detailed analysis.