Executive Power

The outstanding feature of Article II of the Constitution is its grant to the president of relatively few, sharply limited powers, a function of the Constitutional Convention’s determination, in the words of James Madison, to “confine and define” presidential power. The president’s powers are lean and meager in comparison to those vested in Congress. This may surprise Americans who have grown accustomed to executive assertions of sweeping powers in both foreign and domestic realms, but two compelling historical reasons explain the framers’ blueprint.