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    Tuesday, 7 March 2017

    Exhaustive Note on American Cabinet

    1. Origin and growth of the Cabinet
    There is no such thing as a cabinet in the United States. The cabinet is an extra-constitutional growth in the American government system, whose origin was determined by the customs and usages and not by the provisions of the Constitution or of law.

    The silence of the Constitution is deliberate. The Founding Fathers wanted the Senate, to act as a body of advisers of the President. Accordingly, it was given's number of executive powers.

    2. Selection of the Cabinet Members
    According to the Constitution, the Senate must approve the appointment of the heads of his executive departments by the President. It is, however, a tradition that the President's choice is always approved by the Senate. The principle of separation of powers has entrusted all executive powers into the hands of the President.

    The President's choice is unlimited. He can choose any man from anywhere for any job in his Cabinet. The they considerations he has to keep in mind is that his nominee must be fit for the job entrusted to him and his choice must be acceptable to the Senate.

    Geographical considerations also influence his choice. The States, in the U.S.A. are usually grouped into geographical regions. A President has to select men from the north or south, the east or west, in a manner that does not displease any one of these regions. The President can drop any one of his Cabinet Ministers at any time.

    3. Function of the Cabinet

    The American Cabinet performs two functions.
    (i) Firstly, it has an advisory and consultative function. The President consults its members on an important question of policy of his govern merit.

    (ii) Secondly, it performs administrative duties.

    (iii) The Constitution has vested all executive powers in the President, and it has separated the executive from the legislature and the judiciary.

    (iv) Therefore the American Cabinet is based upon Ministerial responsibility. The responsibility of the ministers is individual and not collective.

    (v) No doubt some of them are in a position to influence the decisions; they are never in a position to control him. If Cabinet member differs with the President, he does so his own peril.

    4. Unlimited Authority of the President

    The American Cabinet is a body of advisers to the President who points and dismisses them as he likes. The American President can accept or reject the advice or opinion of the member he likes. American President is all-in-all in his Cabinet. He is not bound to only appoint party men in his Cabinet.

    5. Meetings of the Cabinet

    Ordinarily the Cabinet meets at least once a week. During special circumstances there are more frequent meetings. Discussions in the meetings are informal. The President may bring before its members any matter which he likes .to be considered by them.

    a. Proceedings in the meetings

    The proceedings in the meetings are quite informal. The President may initiate discussion on a matter; or it may be brought up by a departmental head. There are no rules of -debate. Free exchange of opinion takes place in a conversational manner.

    b. The decisions in the meeting
    The decisions are actually made on mere recommendations. The President may or may not accept them. He may utterly reject the advice given by his principal advisers.

    c. Utility of Cabinet
    The only utility of Cabinet discussion and consultation is that views are clarified: the President can find other views to problems; he might be influenced by other views regarding' weighty issues of domestic or international nature.

    d. American Cabinet compared with other cabinets
    The American Cabinet system differs greatly from the Cabinet system prevailing in countries like Pakistan or England. The U.S. president cannot put his responsibility on the shoulders of his Cabinet, nor can make it responsible for the executive actions. In other countries the Cabinet has a constitutional status and the ministers are directly responsible to legislature for their actions.

    In America, on the other hand, the cabinet has no independent powers or prestige. The members of President's Cabinet do not sit in the Congress. However, they may be asked to appear before the Congress. It' functions as a body of individual advisers to the President. It does not work as a team. The Cabinet is not a policy-making body unlike that of British Cabinet which formulates the policy. The important policy decisions are taken by the President in consultation with informal advisers who do not constitute his formal cabinet. Jackson leaned heavily on his, Kitchen Cabinet and Palace guards who hardly formed his Cabinet.

    e. The cabinet is the President's Family
    Therefore, the cabinet is the President's Family, and the President, as head of the family, dominates it. President Wilson is reported to have treated his Secretaries as office-boys. President Grant regarded them as second-lieutenants whose only duty was to carry out the orders of the President. In most cases they acted as a body of advisers- to the President and not a council of his colleagues.

    f. The President in the cabinet

    The President is a policeman with sole and unlimited control over the traffic signals. Without the green light which only he can flash and for reasons largely of his own choosing the cabinet cannot even begin to function; whatever it does, it is always subject to his choice to change the signals from green to red.
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