Who Can Overturn Presidential Policies?

by Catherine McNally

The President's power to create new policies and modify existing ones is not limitless. Checks exist that give the legislative and judicial branches of government the ability to overturn Presidential policies.

Presidential Policy-Making

The President's policy-making power is not explicitly stated in the Constitution, but arose out of the vague grant of "executive power" articulated under Article II, Section 1. The President can issue an executive order, which permits the President to create domestic laws, as well as determine how existing laws should be implemented. The President can also issue an executive agreement, which governs foreign affairs.

Legislative Check on Presidential Policy

The legislature can check the President's policy-making power. Congress can overturn an executive order or agreement with the vote of two-thirds of both the Senate and House of Representatives. Since most members of Congress will vote along party lines, however, it is extremely difficult to overturn a Presidential policy.

Judicial Check on Presidential Policy

The Supreme Court of the United States may also overturn a Presidential policy if it is found to violate the Constitution or conflict with an existing law. The Supreme Court's right of judicial review of executive policies is not stated in the Constitution. Instead, it originated from the Court's own landmark decision, Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 (1803). Only two Presidential policies have been overturned by the Supreme Court.

About the Author

Catherine McNally published her first article, a piece on protecting confidential business information in "Thomson's Tax, Corporate and Accounting Alert" in 2004. She received a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from McGill University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Pennsylvania Law School.

Photo Credits