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What are two important powers of the President of the United States?

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November 05, 2014 9:56PM

The President is the Commander in Chief of the Army and the Navy (nowadays the "Armed Forces"). This power has rendered Congress's ability to declare war almost beside the point, as the President can order the Armed Forces to do just about anything not illegal. For example, the War in Vietnam and both Wars in Iraq, as well as other, smaller actions (invading Grenada and Panama, defending Kosovo, and policing Somalia) were all "police actions" ordered by the President at the time without a declaration of war by Congress. On September 11, 2001, President George W. Bush ordered the Air Force's fighter jets flying over the airspace of the United States to "persuade" all commercial jetliners to land, when at first the FAA wanted to leave the question up to the pilots' discretion.

The President has the power to appoint the nine (9) Justices of the Supreme Court, subject to confirmation by the Senate. This is an awesome power, as the Supreme Court is practically all-powerful in terms of this country's legal doctrines. The Supreme Court has jurisdiction anywhere: It can strike down state laws as well as Federal laws (the power known as "judicial review" and established in the early case Marbury v. Madison,) as well as being the final authority on the decisions of all judges, state and Federal. As of this writing, it appears that the right of a woman to have an abortion of her pregnancy in this country is based on the opinion on only one (1) of the justices. Another example of the Supreme Court's power is very wide expansion, in a series of cases in the 1980s, of the ability of the police to search individuals and cars without a warrant. Finally, the Supreme Court has changed the legality of the death penalty: the decision in Furman v. Georgia (1972) effectively abolished the death penalty, but four years later, in Gregg v. Georgia, (1976) the Court made it possible, again, for the states to put offenders to death.