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    Sunday, 29 January 2017

    Emergency Powers of the American President


    i. According to Oxford Dictionary:
    Emergency means,
    a. Sudden or unexpected occurrence of a state of things, and
    b. a juncture that arises or crops up, a sudden occasion.
    ii. "Emergency can be used to describe a state of things which is not the result of a sudden occurrence. A condition of things causing a reasonable apprehension of the near approach of danger constitutes an emergency."
    iii. "An emergency is an extensive and serious crisis, in which the whole nation is involved."
    iv. "Urgency relates to a situation requiring prompt action. Emergency indicates a situation .suddenly arising & demanding prompt action and is a stronger word."

    American Constitution is silent about the emergencies and it does not describe the manner in which an emergency is to be dealt with. However, the Supreme Court has held that emergency does not create powers nor does it increase powers already given by the constitution. But the Congress can and had, confer upon the president many powers which he may exercise at the time of emergency. The definition of emergency is left to the President. He may proclaim a limited or unlimited emergency.

    (i) The American president the Commander-in-Chief of U.S armed forces. In that capacity is authorized to take all those actions which are necessary for the defense of the country & overthrow of the enemies.

    (ii) He can make rules & regulations for the execution of the Acts of the Congress and can declare war only with the consent of the Senate However; he can conduct his diplomatic relations & station his troupes in such a way that war becomes inevitable.

    By means of his speech, he can create such a situation that there is no alternative to war. After the declaration of war, he can resort to enormous emergency powers.

    (i) President McKinley sent a battleship to Havana and as it was blown up, it participated war with Spain.
    (ii) In 1918, President Wilson sent American forces to Siberia to help the Allied troops fighting against the Bolsheviks although there was no state of war between the United States of America and Russia.
    (iii) The United States of America declared war against Germany in 1914, but even before that a shooting war had already started.
    (iv) President Roosevelt announced the existence of an emergency at the beginning of war in the U.S.A in the war in December, 1914, a large number of laws were put on the State Book which gave the president control over the resources, industrial plant and man-power of the country.

    (i) In 1991, President George Bush :( Senior) -used American Armed establishments to crush Iraq's aggression against Kuwait, under the fold of United Nations.

    (ii) During war against terrorism, envisages after the tragic incident of 11th September 2001, the American president undertook to perform a much more domineering role in international politics. President George W.Bush (Junior) did not pay due heed even to the Resolution of Security Council while taking decisions to attack Iraq and Afghanistan.

    The use of emergency powers is both salutary & dangerous. Properly used they are restorative; improperly used they may become a prelude to dictatorship. However, there is little danger of an American President turning these emergency powers into dictatorial powers. It is because of the system of check and balances in the American Constitution. The President has to act within the limits set by. The Constitution and law. If he acts without the authorization of law in an emergency, his action can be declared invalid by the Supreme Court. A reference may be made to the seizure of steel industry by President Truman. America at that time was busy in the Korean War although no formal declaration of war had been made. She had declared a national emergency although no war powers were granted to President Truman as was done in the case of President Roosevelt. America was committed to build up the North Atlantic defense forces.. She 'Was, committed to supply England with raw steel & thereby relieve the strain on her economy. At that time, giant labor bargained with giant steel for a new contract. There was a deadlock and all efforts to resolve the same failed. The President was informed by the Secretary of Defense that if there was a prolonged strike, the military establishment was likely to be crippled in its defense preparations. The result was that 'President Truman ordered the seizure of the steel industry. The union men went back to work and the steel companies took the case to the courts, three judges of the Supreme Court of .America upheld the action of the President. They admitted that the action of the President was extraordinary but the times in which the action was. taken were also extraordinary. In seizing the steel industry the President had done nothing more than ensuring 'the means by which he had faithfully executed the law the Congress had recently enacted affecting the diplomatic and military efforts of America. However, six judges of the Supreme Court held that the action of the President was illegal.


    The use of emergency powers is both salutary and dangerous. Properly used they are restorative; improperly used they may become a prelude to dictatorship.
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    Item Reviewed: Emergency Powers of the American President Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Usman Ali
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