Article 2 of the Constitution Summary

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Table of Contents

The United States Constitution is the oldest active constitution in the world, written in 1787 and ratified in 1788. Widely considered one of the most successful and effective national constitutions ever written, it is comprised of 7 main sections known as articles and 27 amendments. Article 2 of the United States Constitution sets the guidelines and rules for the executive branch of the federal government, the branch responsible for directly administering the country. Article 2 is comprised of 4 sections containing different subsections or clauses and addresses different issues relating to the president, vice-president, and other executive and federal officials.

Section 1

Clause 1

Clause 1 specifies that a president will serve as head of the executive branch of the federal government, serving a 4-year term along with a vice president. While there are no limitations on how many terms the president can serve in Article 2, the 22nd Amendment of the US Constitution limits the president to 2, 4-year terms.

Clause 2

Clause 2 appoints electors from each state who will be directly responsible for selecting the president and vice president of the United States. The number of electors from each state is equal to the number of representatives and senators apportioned to each state under the US Constitution, with the stipulation that no elector can at the time be serving as a senator, representative, or other position created by the federal government.

Clause 3

Clause 3 establishes the guidelines for the electors selecting both the president and vice president of the United States. Electors are directed to meet in their respective states and vote for 2 different individuals, with at least one of the 2 individuals being a resident of another state. The votes will be delivered to the president of the Senate, who will count them in the presence of the Senate and House of Representatives. The individual with the greatest amount of votes will become president, as long as the amount of votes received by them is at least a majority of the total amount of electors. The individual with the 2nd highest vote total will be the vice president. If more than one individual gets a majority of votes of the total amount of electors and the result is a tie, the House of Representatives will vote to determine the president. If no individual gets a majority, then the House of Representatives will vote between the individuals with the 5 highest vote totals. Each state delegation gets one vote if the vote goes to the House of Representatives. Finally, if there is a tie for the 2nd highest vote total to determine the vice president, the Senate will determine the winner in a vote as well.

As might be expected, giving the presidency to the highest vote total and the vice presidency to the 2nd highest vote total created massive problems, as fellow rivals and competitors for the presidency did not work well together in the same administration in the early years of the United States. As a result, the 12th Amendment of the United States Constitution was enacted in 1804, which altered the process in many ways, most notably separating the 2 assigned votes for the electors into 2 distinct votes, one for the president and one for the vice president. This eliminated the problem of two rival factions serving together as president and vice president.

Clause 4

Clause 4 gives Congress the authority to determine the time when elections are held as well as when the electors cast their votes for president. These dates are uniform throughout the entirety of the country.

Clause 5

Clause 5 sets the qualifications for an individual to be able to serve as president of the United States, namely that the individual is a natural-born citizen of the United States, 35 years old, and a resident in the United States for at least 14 years.

Clause 6

Clause 6 specifies that the Vice President will take over the roles, responsibilities, and duties of the president if the president is removed or no longer able to serve. If both the president and vice president are removed or no longer able to serve in their roles, Congress has the authority to appoint a qualified individual who will finish the term. The 25th Amendment of the United States Constitution provides additional guidelines and procedures to provide more clarity because of the ambiguous nature of this clause.

Clause 7

Clause 7 states that the president will receive a salary that will not be altered during their term of service, and that they cannot receive any additional money on top of their salary from the federal government or any state government.

Clause 8

Clause 8 requires the president to take an oath of office before assuming the presidency, with the oath “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.

Section 2

Clause 1

Clause 1 establishes the president as the leader of the armed forces of the United States, specifically naming him Commander in Chief. A senior cabinet of officials is also created in this clause, along with the power of the president to grant pardons except in cases of impeachment.

Clause 2

Clause 2 gives the president the power to sign treaties on behalf of the United States in conjunction with counsel from the Senate and at least 2-3 of their support. Along with counsel and advice from the Senate, the president is given the authority to appoint judges, ambassadors, and other public officials. The Senate also has the right to let the president appoint officials without their consent or advice if the Senate considers them minor appointments or officials that they do not feel the need to pay attention to.

Clause 3

Clause 3 gives the president the power to fill vacancies that arise when the Senate is in recess, but the appointments expire at the end of the following session of Congress.

Section 3

Section 3 of Article 2 specifies several other specific roles, responsibilities, and rights that the president has. The president is required to keep Congress informed about governmental affairs through regular State of the Union addresses, can call either or both houses of Congress to a special session, is responsible for receiving foreign ambassadors that come to the United States, make sure that all laws are executed faithfully while they are in office, and can commission US officers if necessary.

Section 4

Section 4 of Article 2 allows for the removal from office the president, vice president, and all other civil officers of the United States if they are impeached and then convicted of treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.