Pros And Cons Of Executive Orders [Everything You Need To Know]

Executive orders are issued by the president of the United States to help, or sometimes even hinder, whatever they happen to be currently working on. When signing an executive order, it must have something to do with what the president has done before. Presidents are able to pass these orders because their constitutional powers include being in charge of foreign relations including treaties and commerce. The president is also able to hire people for jobs that are necessary but lack funding in congress.

History Of Executive Orders

Executive orders have been used as a way to get around the legislative process, and some feel that this is unconstitutional. In 1837, when President Andrew Jackson refused to re-charter the Bank of the United States, he did so by issuing an executive order. This became known as the “veto” of the bank. Many people were opposed to it because it was an end-run around Congress. However, others felt that because the president is in charge of foreign relations, he should be able to veto something even if congress doesn’t want it.

The use of executive orders has continued throughout history, with presidents using them for things like desegregating schools or creating cabinet positions. Former President Obama used them to try and get around a gridlocked congress. In 2013, he issued an executive order on immigration which would allow people who were brought to the United States illegally as children to stay in the country without fear of being deported. This was met with opposition from Republicans, who felt that the president was overstepping his bounds.

Pros Of Executive Orders

Pros Of Executive Orders

1. Implement Policy Without Input From Legislators

Executive orders allow the president to bypass Congress and implement policy without input from legislators. It also allows him or her to do so without worrying about their re-election; whether they will make it past the next election is no longer a factor.

2. Allows Change And Effect With Little Effort

By implementing policy with executive orders, officials can make big changes and feel like they have done something without having to work too hard at doing so. Not only that but laws can be passed quite quickly which increases its appeal for those who want things done fast.

3. Minimize Constitutional Overreach

When using an executive order, rather than passing a law, most of the power stays in the president’s hands instead of being shared between the legislative and executive branches as per usual. This reduces conflict between two branches of government and allows one person to make the decisions they see fit- within reason, of course.

4. Broadens Presidential Power

Executive orders give presidents a lot of leeway and power when it comes to policy-making. It allows them to act on issues that they deem important without having to go through Congress first. This also gives them a level of authority that is not found in any other branch of government.

5. Creates Better Transparency

Since executive orders are written and published online for all to see, there is more transparency involved with their creation and implementation than, say, a law that may be passed without anyone knowing about it until it’s too late. This openness may not always be a good thing, but it does ensure that people are aware of what is happening in their government.

6. Can Be Revoked

Unlike laws, executive orders can be revoked by the president who created them at any time he or she pleases. This means that a president can change his or her mind about an order and simply revoke it- without having to go through any extra steps.

7. Avoids Lengthy Debate And Compromise

Passing a law usually involves a lot of back-and-forth between the legislative and executive branches as they try to come to an agreement on the bill. This process can take months, even years, and often results in a watered-down piece of legislation that no one is entirely happy with. Executive orders allow the president to sidestep this entire process and implement policy without any compromises.

8. Can Be Used To Bypass A Hostile Congress

If the president doesn’t agree with how a particular piece of legislation is being handled by Congress, he or she can use an executive order to bypass it altogether. This allows the president to get the policy they want to be passed without having to go through all the hassle of working with a hostile Congress.

9. Focuses On National Emergencies

Executive orders can be used in times of emergency to give the president more power and authority than usual. For example, after 9/11 President George W Bush issued an executive order that allowed him to detain suspected terrorists without trial. This gave him more flexibility and power when it came to dealing with the situation.

10. Creates A Paper Trail

Every executive order is published online for all to see. This means that there is a paper trail of every order ever made, which can be useful if someone wants to look back and see what has been done in the past.

11. Sets Precedence

Executive orders often set precedence for future presidents when it comes to policy-making. For example, President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal policies were based on his executive orders from the early 1930s. This means that subsequent presidents can look back at past executive orders and use them as a basis for their own policies.

12. Helps Presidents Get Things Done

Some people argue that executive orders are necessary in order to help presidents get things done. Without them, they say, presidents would be unable to implement their agendas as swiftly as is needed. This gives them more time to focus on the big picture instead of going through a drawn-out process.

13. May Not Always Be Unconstitutional

Executive orders are sometimes accused of being unconstitutional because they allow presidents to make laws without involving Congress. However, this is not true- executive orders do not make new policies but only rule on how existing law is executed elsewhere in the government. In addition, Article 1, Section 7 of the US Constitution forbids either branch from creating or amending laws on their own- which begs the question: what has Congress been doing all this time?

14. Creates A System Of Checks And Balances

Executive orders can beneficial because they create a system whereby different branches of government can check and balance each other. This helps to prevent any one branch from becoming too powerful and keeps the government working as it should.

15. Can Be Used To Correct Wrongs

Executive orders can also be used to correct wrongs that have been done by the government in the past. For example, in 2009 President Barack Obama issued an executive order which banned torture by all US personnel. This was in response to the torture that had been carried out by the Bush administration in the early 2000s.

16. Allows Presidents To Govern By Decree

Some people argue that presidents should be able to govern by decree, and that executive orders are a key part of this process. They say that this is a more efficient way of governing and allows the president to get things done without having to compromise.

17. Can Be Used To Make New Policy

Executive orders are not just used for correcting wrongs or bypassing Congress- they can also be used to make new policies. In fact, many of the most famous executive orders have been in this category, such as Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and John F Kennedy’s Cuban Missile Crisis.

18. Allows Presidents To Set An Agenda

Presidents often use executive orders as a way of setting their agenda and showing the American people what they plan on doing while in office. For example, shortly after taking office Barack Obama issued a series of executive orders related to climate change, which showed commitment to tackling the issue.

19. Can Be Used To Reward Supporters

Executive orders can also be used to reward political allies and supporters. For example, in 2012 President Obama issued an executive order which made it easier for illegal immigrants who had been brought to the US as children to stay in the country. This was seen as a way of thanking these people for their support during the election campaign.

20. Helps Presidents Keep Track Of What Is Going On

Finally, some people argue that executive orders are necessary in order to help presidents keep track of what is going on in government. Without them, they say, presidents would be unable to oversee the different branches and would lose control over the government.

Cons Of Executive Orders

1. Executive orders may not always be unconstitutional

2. May create a system of checks and balances

3. Can be used to correct wrongs

4. Presidents can govern by decree

5. Allows presidents to set an agenda -Examples: JFK on Cuban Missile Crisis, FDR with New Deal (welfare and insurance)

6. Can be used to reward political allies and supporters -Examples: DACA (2012); Bill Clinton’s EO 13257 in 1998; Obama’s EO 13568 in 2009; 1962 order on desegregation in DC schools; EOs allowing seizure of steel mills during Korean War; Reagan’s 1981 EO 12291 allowing cost-benefit analysis of regulations issued by federal agencies such as EPA and OSHA; EO 13112 allowing Americans with Disabilities Act to be implemented by federal agencies

7. Can bypass Congress

8. Allows presidents to make new policy -Eg: Obama’s 2012 EO on climate change or Bush’s 2001 EO defining torture in interrogations

9. Helps presidents keep track of what is going on -May lead to overreach, increase in the size of government/bureaucracy

10. May not be used for situations that call for immediate action (eg national security)

11. Allows the president to act unilaterally and not include consultation with other branches or stakeholders

12. Executive actions may contradict previous executive orders

13. Ignores input citizens during the policy-making process


Executive orders can be controversial, but they can also be very helpful. They can be used to get around a deadlocked congress or to help implement new policies. However, it is important to remember that they are not the same thing as laws, and should not be used to bypass the legislative process.

Leave a Comment