Volume 23, 2018
Steven J. Brust
A Catholic and Constitutional Assessment of the Executive Power after the Obama Administration
During his his eight-year tenure in the White House, President Barack Obama raised serious concerns by expanding presidential power with his use of actions that altered federal regulations in various policy areas, ignored or circumvented the law, and/or enacted policies that violate fundamental human rights, notably religious freedom. In the first few months of his presidency, President Trump also has used executive orders to alter existing legislation and policy. In light of these circumstances, it is important to ask: How should a Catholic (and any citizen for that matter) assess this use of the executive power? And, perhaps more importantly, in what ways should executive power be exercised? I will attempt to answer these questions from a broad perspective based on the general understanding of executive power as written in the U.S. Constitution, as well as the historical development of this power. I will also provide, based on principles of Catholic social teaching, a general assessment of the current status of executive power and some recommendations for how it should be exercised.