cised mainly on his own initiative, and he does not entertain appeals from or exercise a power of revision over the acts of officials on matters within their competence. In the opinion of various attorneys-general, the President has no power to correct by his official act the errors of judgment of incompetent or unfaithful subordinates, and there is no appeal to the President from the decision of the head of a department in such cases. If this rule were not adopted the President would be overwhelmed with appeals on matters of detail and the transaction of public business would be seriously interrupted. Where, however, the question refers to the jurisdiction or competence of the subordinate officer, an appeal to the President has been allowed.


1-Treaties and Foreign Relations, Finley and Sanderson, The American Executive, 280-92.

2-The President, Bryce, J., American Commonwealth, I, 38


3-The Presidential Veto, Finley and Sanderson, The American Executive, 206-17.

4 The Issues in Presidential Elections, Bryce, J., American Commonwealth, II, 213-19.

5-The Law of Electoral Count, Burgess, J. W., Political Science Quarterly, III, 633–53.

6-The Hampered Executive, Nelson, H. L., The Century Magazine, XLIV, 140-50.

7-The Presidential Office, Rhodes, J. F., Scribner's Magazine, XXXIII, 164–74.

8-Relations Between the Executive and Congress, Cleveland, G., Presidential Problems, 40–69.




Professor J. A. Fairlie in the following selection gives a clear statement of the legal position and the functions of the President's Cabinet:

In the discharge of his administrative functions the President is assisted by a group of advisers known as the Cabinet, which has some resemblances and some points of difference to the cabinets in other governments. As is the general rule elsewhere, the President's Cabinet is composed of the heads of the principal executive departments, into which the national administration is organized. Like the British cabinet, it has no legal existence as a collective body. But, unlike the cabinets in countries having the parliamentary system of government, neither the Cabinet as a whole nor the individual members, in the United States, are politically responsible for the acts of the chief executive. The President has full authority and sole responsibility; and his Cabinet is simply a consultative and advisory body to him, without any effective control over legislation. This situation is indicated by the fact that the members of the President's Cabinet are generally called secretaries, instead of the more dignified title of ministers, which is used in most other countries.

While the Cabinet as a body has no formal legal existence, its membership is in fact determined by the number of executive departments in the national administration. These departments have been created by congressional statutes, which relate strictly to their jurisdiction and powers. The constitution does not expressly provide what authority shall

have this power of organizing the departments; indeed, it does not specifically direct the creation of such departments, although it recognizes their existence in two places. It permits the President to require the opinion in writing of the heads of the executive departments; and it provides that Congress may vest the power of appointing inferior officers in the heads of such departments. The last cited clause speaks of "offices established by law," and this has been interpreted as giving to the legislature the organizing power. Moreover, not only are the departments in their main features created and established by Congress; but also their internal organization, and the powers and duties of the various heads of subdivisions are often regulated in detail by statute. Only rarely does a statute provide that the head of a department shall organize any particular sub-division.

In other countries the internal organization of the departments, and in continental Europe even the principal departments, are established by executive order. This system has the advantage of flexibility, since it permits frequent changes to be made quickly to meet new conditions. The rigidity of an organization fixed by statute is not always conducive to economic or efficient administration. An illustration of this may be noted in the creation by statute of districts for the collection of customs duties. The districts as they now exist were established many years ago, and some of the ports formerly of importance have sunk into insignificance with changes in the lines of foreign trade. Secretaries of the Treasury have repeatedly reported this situation to Congress and recommended the abolition of the less important districts. But Congress has failed to act on these recommendations, probably on account of the opposition of the members from the sections affected. Such matters could with advantage be left to administrative regulation; while the legislative control over finances would effectively check any tendency to extravagance which might be feared from the administrative officers.

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The number of Cabinet members is much smaller in the

United States' national administration than in other important countries. This is due in part to the federal system of government, which leaves to the States such matters as educational administration, the supervision over local government, and the regulation of manufacturing industry and of commerce which does not cross state lines. But in some cases services performed by the national government are in this country organized as subordinate bureaus of one of the main departments, which in other countries are in charge of an official of cabinet rank. Such, for example, are the public works and colonies under the Secretary of War.

Department secretaries are appointed by the President, "by and with the advice and consent of the Senate." There have been, however, but a few exceptional cases where the Senate has attempted to exercise any control over the President's selections for these positions; and the power of appointment is practically exercised by the President himself. He is under no compulsion to choose the members of his Cabinet from the political party which controls the Senate, still less from the party which controls the House of Representatives. And each President is free to select his own advisers, without reference to those of his predecessor.

Nevertheless, there are certain customs and limitations observed by the Presidents in their choice. Elected to his position by a political party, the President is confined in the choice of his Cabinet to the members of his own party. Washington attempted to secure a Cabinet with representatives of different political views; but the attempt was not successful. Lincoln selected some men who had been democrats and some who had been whigs; but all had definitely attached themselves to the new republican party. Cleveland in 1893 appointed a former republican as Secretary of State; but he had supported the democratic candidate at the preceding election, and was in no sense a representative of the opposing party.

Several groups of members, chosen on different grounds, may generally be recognized in each Cabinet as finally organized. Some receive their position as party leaders. If

there is a well-marked division within the party, there will be some persons closely allied to the President, and usually some representatives of the opposing element. The Secretary of State has frequently been the strongest rival of the President for the party nomination. Some members are selected largely because of their services in political campaigns, either past or prospective. Occasionally there will be a selection based mainly on administrative qualifications for the special department. And there are usually some persons in the Cabinet chosen by the President mainly on account of personal considerations.

Few of the Cabinet members are taken directly from Congress. Occasionally ex-Senators and ex-Members of the House of Representatives are appointed. But a Senator feels that his position in the Senate is more secure if he continues to occupy it; and that the longer tenure with the chance for re-election makes it a more influential post than that of department secretary for not more than four years. Most of the representatives are not of sufficient calibre for the Cabinet; while the few leaders-who are also usually sure of their seats -prefer the political and legislative work of Congress to the administrative service.

One consideration of considerable weight is the representation of different sections of the country. There is no rule requiring anything like a proportional distribution of the positions; but it is felt to be advisable that each of the large divisions of the country should have a member in the cabinet.

In their collective capacity the department secretaries are known as the President's Cabinet. But this Cabinet, while in some respects resembling the cabinets in European governments, occupies in fact a very different and much less important place in the government. Like the British cabinet, it is an entirely extra-legal body, authorized neither by the constitution nor the statutes, nor even any formal regulation or order of the President. But the British cabinet is at least

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