What is an Executive Order by the President: Everything You Need to Know!

Executive orders by the President of the United States (POTUS) are directives issued by the President that manage operations of the federal government. They have the power of law, although they are not necessarily legislative.

An executive order is a tool utilized by the executive branch to carry out powers expressly granted to POTUS by the Constitution or delegated to him by Congress. Additionally, executive orders are often issued to assist the President in managing the operations and agencies of the federal government.

How are Executive Orders Created?

Executive orders are created by the President of the United States to enforce or maintain the policies and operations of the executive branch. Such orders are not required to be approved by Congress, neither do they have to undergo any legislative process to become law. Generally, the President issues these orders based on the powers conferred on him by the Constitution, statutes enacted by Congress, and the delegation of powers by Congress to his executive agencies. In practice, executive orders are usually prepared by executive branch lawyers, signed by the President, and published in the Federal Register – the official daily publication of the United States government.

What is the Scope of Executive Orders?

Executive orders have a broad range of powers and applications. They can range from instructions to federal agencies to restricting certain activities or imposing sanctions on foreign governments.

Some of the most commonly issued executive orders relate to:

  • Foreign Policy and National Security
  • Economic and Domestic Policy
  • Health Care and Social Services
  • Environmental Policy
  • Emergency Management and Disaster Relief

What is the Difference between an Executive Order and a Law?

The most significant difference between an executive order and a law is that a law must pass through the legislative process and be approved by Congress to become law – while an executive order does not.

A law is enacted through Congress, either by passing a bill, which the President would sign, allow to become law without his/her signature, or veto. Congress can override a presidential veto with a two-thirds vote in both chambers of Congress. An executive order, on the other hand, is a directive from the President to execute his presidential power or fulfill his duties as the commander-in-chief.

How are Executive Orders Implemented?

Executive orders are implemented several ways – it depends on its specific provisions. In most cases, executive orders are directed towards the executive branch of the government, instructing administrative or regulatory agencies to change policies or regulations. They can also be directed toward the private sector, restricting or authorizing certain activities.

When an executive order is issued, federal departments and agencies will follow the orders and take such actions required according to the order. If necessary, new regulations, policies, or implementations may be introduced to support the order’s directives. The courts may also review executive orders, examining whether or not the president exceeded his constitutional authority in issuing an executive order.

Can Executive Orders be Cancelled or Revoked?

Yes, executive orders can be cancelled or revoked in several ways. When a new president is inaugurated, they have the power to cancel or revoke executive orders made by the previous President. Congress can also pass legislation that effectively countermands existing executive orders. Furthermore, the courts can overturn certain executive orders that it deems unconstitutional or beyond POTUS’s powers granted by the Constitution.

What are Some Famous Executive Orders in US History?

Throughout US history, various executive orders have had significant effects on the country’s political, social, and economic landscape. Some of the most famous executive orders include:

Executive Order Date Issued Description
Executive Order 9066 February 19, 1942 The forced relocation and internment of 120,000 people of Japanese ancestry during World War II.
Executive Order 9981 July 26, 1948 Ended segregation in the Armed Forces and began the process of integrating all of the military services.
Executive Order 13166 August 16, 2000 The “Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency” executive order required all federal agencies to provide language assistance to those who are not English proficient.
Executive Order 13603 March 16, 2012 The “National Defense Resources Preparedness” executive order granted the federal government the authority to control and allocate energy, transportation, food, and water resources during times of crisis.


Executive orders by POTUS are directives that the President uses to manage and regulate the federal government’s operations. While they have similar powers to laws, they do not go through the same process of legislative approval, nor do they necessarily have the same legal weight as laws. Executive orders’ effects depend on their specific provisions, but they affect the public and federal administration in various capacities.

Common Questions and Answers

  • What is the legal basis for executive orders?
    The legal basis for executive orders stems from the powers granted to the President by the Constitution, statutes enacted by Congress, and delegation of powers by Congress to executive agencies.
  • Can executive orders be overturned?
    Yes, executive orders can be overturned by Congress or the courts. A new President may also revoke past executive orders.
  • What is the scope of the President’s executive order?
    The scope of the President’s executive order can be broad and vary depending on its specific provisions. Executive orders can range from instructions to federal agencies to restricting certain activities or imposing sanctions on foreign governments.
  • How is an executive order enforced?
    An executive order is enforced through the federal agencies it is directed towards. By law, agency heads and employees must comply with the directives of the executive order.
  • How many executive orders can a President issue?
    There is no limit on the number of executive orders that POTUS can issue. However, executive orders must be constitutionally sound and within the bounds of POTUS’s powers granted by the Constitution.





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