Presidential Powers Act - A Proposed Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

Limit and Define the Powers of the President

Whereas recent Presidents of both parties have used the lack of enumeration or limitations to their powers in the Constitution in order to usurp unto the Executive Branch powers which have been specifically alloted to the Legislative and Judicial Branches; and

Whereas recent Presidents have used mechanisms such as signing statements and Executive Orders to disregard, selectively enforce, or circumvent Constitutionally enacted laws, or to create law where Congress has refused to do same; and

Whereas recent Presidents have invoked "Executive Privilege" to obstruct and refuse oversight and investigation of the activities of their offices and those of other officials, appointees, and others in the Executive Branch; and

Whereas recent Presidents have created agencies and offices headed by unconfirmed and unaccountable advisors, also known as csars, whose activities and directives have had the effect of creating an extraconstitutional "shadow government" answerable to no one except the President; and

Whereas the existing definition of impeachable offenses relies on interpretation of the phrase "high crimes and misdemeanors",

Therefore, we, the undersigned, propose and submit to Congress this Amendment to the United States Constitution:


1. The President may veto line items of legislation passed by Congress and presented to him for his signature. Vetoed line items shall be returned to Congress for reconsideration in the same manner as provided herein regarding wholly rejected legislation.

2. The President shall personally affix his signature on documents or legislation requiring his signature and may not utilize a facsimile or computer generated signature on any documents or legislation, nor may he delegate to any subordinate the function of executing any official document which he is required by law to personally sign.

3. The Executive branch of the government shall enforce all laws enacted by Congress, and all provisions thereof, except in conjunction with the veto power granted herein, unless they shall be repealed by subsequent Act of Congress, or nullified as contrary to the provisions of this Constitution by the Supreme Court or by a majority of the States.

4. Signing Statements issued by the President upon approving legislation passed by Congress shall not nullify any portion of the legislation, except in conjunction with the veto power granted herein.

5. No President may exercise the power of recess appointments for more than five positions during his tenure; nor shall the power of recess appointment be used for any member of the judicial branch; nor shall a recess appointment be used for any appointee already submitted to Congress or for any position which was already vacant on or before the day of their Recess. Congress shall, within ninety days of their return from recess, either confirm or disqualify any recess appointee in the same manner as if the appointment had been made while they were not in Recess. If confirmed, the appointee shall continue to serve as described for recess appointments in the Constitution.

6. Executive Orders by the President, and directives of the agencies of the Executive Branch, are limited to implementation or clarification of existing legislation as enacted by Congress and must cite the portion of the relevant law which they seek to implement or clarify.

7. Within six months following the ratification of this amendment by the several States, all Executive Orders issued by any President, either current or preceding, and still in effect as of the date of ratification, shall be reviewed and notated with the relevant citation according to paragraph six of this Amendment, and if they cannot be thus referenced, shall be rendered null and void.

8. No President may implement, by any action or order, any terms of a treaty or international agreement or resolution with any foreign nation, power, or international organization or coalition which has not been ratified or approved by Congress as provided in this Constitution.

9. No President may suspend habeas corpus, nor assume Emergency Powers, without the express consent of a majority of all members in both houses of Congress; nor shall any such consent exceed thirty days without subsequent consent of two-thirds of the entire membership of the House and two-thirds of the entire membership of the Senate; nor shall the duration of any subsequent consent exceed a period of thirty days.

10. No President may disclose information affecting national security of the United States or one of its allies to any foreign nation or power, nor alter the classification of documents affecting national security, without the express consent of Congress.

11. All persons appointed by the Executive Branch, whether compensated or not, to positions of minister, counselor, advisor, ambassador, department head or subordinate head, Cabinet secretary or undersecretary, Chief of Staff or Deputy Chief of Staff, or any position with direct access to or determination of access to the President, or whose functions include the determination or recommendation of policy, including recess appointees, shall be required to be individually confirmed by Advice and Consent of the Senate, the appointee being subject individually to hearings and testimony before the Senate, the votes of each Senator for each appointee being individually recorded as to yea or nay in the archives of Congress, nor may Congress by legislation or procedure circumvent this paragraph.

12. All actions, papers, and communications of the President, and of his Office, and of the Executive Branch, are subject to review by Congress. In instances wherein the underlying issue of such actions, papers and communications shall be determined by Congress and the Supreme Court to be vital to matters of national security, no details thereof may be disclosed by anyone holding an office under the United States to anyone outside of Congress, until such time as the national security impediment shall have been removed by Congress. An impediment of national security shall not be operative as a defense by the Executive Branch against demands made by Congress, or its members, under this amendment. The Executive Branch shall comply with all requests for production within thirty days of Congressional demand. Determination of the existence of a national security impediment shall be made by the Supreme Court within five days of receiving the request from Congress.

13. The President may not appoint to any office any attorney or member of an attorney's firm which has previously served as private legal counsel or private legal advisor to that President, nor may anyone holding an office under the United States serve as counsel to the President in personal legal matters which may have occurred either before or while in office, nor may the President or anyone holding an office of public trust in or under the United States use public funds or public resources for private legal defense.

14. The spouse or domestic partner of a President shall not be eligible to seek the office of President, nor to hold any elected or appointed office under the United States, for ten years after that President shall have left office. The remaining immediate family of a President, including but not limited to children and their spouses or domestic partners, and siblings and their spouses or domestic partners, shall not be eligible to seek the office of President, nor to hold any elected or appointed office under the United States, for five years after that President shall have left office, nor shall any member of the immediate family head any agency, hold any position, or perform any duty, whether compensated or not, which is empowered to make, draft, or propose law or policy, during the tenure of that President, except as specifically authorized by Congress.

15. Impeachable offenses of the President and all lesser appointed or elected officials holding office under the United States shall include but not be limited to willful violation of the law; refusal to enforce laws affecting national security; disregarding court orders, injunctions, or civil rules of court procedure; jeopardizing the covenant with the several states; willful violation of any provision of this Constitution; malfeasance; misfeasance; and ethics violations. In addition to provisions for impeachment contained elsewhere in this Constitution, Congress shall institute impeachment proceedings against any elected or appointed official upon petition for cause by three-fifths of the legislatures of the several States over whom the official has authority. For purposes of this provision, the Speaker of the House and the Senate Majority Leader shall be considered as having authority over all of the States.

16. Congress may pass legislation restricting the amounts and purposes for which public resources may be used for domestic and international travel and leisure by the President and his family and their staffs, but in no case shall public resources be used for travel and security to and from political events without reimbursement, or for production or distribution of political materials and information.

17. This article shall be inoperative unless it shall have been ratified as an amendment to the Constitution by conventions or the legislatures in the several States, as provided in the Constitution.