The Legislator-in-Chief

Vasan Kesavan & J. Gregory Sidak


The State of the Union and Recommendation Clauses of Article II, Section 3 provide that the President "shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient." Those thirty-one words envision the President as the lead active participant in the embryonic stages of the making of laws. Eight separate principles animate the President's legislative duties and powers before the presentment process. When the State of the Union and Recommendation Clauses are seen to have this textual and analytical subtlety, they reveal the sophistication of the Framers' design that the President, through her institutionally unique ability to acquire and analyze information valuable to the leadership of the Republic, would have significantly more to contribute to the legislative process than merely to sign off on their creation by Congress. Far from making the President a cipher in the legislative process, the Constitution created the Legislator-in-Chief.

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