Study Guide

Constitution - Article 2, Section 1

Article 2, Section 1

Clause 1. The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term, be elected, as follows:

By granting the president a sweeping "executive power"—a power not carefully defined in the Constitution— Article II establishes the presidency as a strong office within the American government. That broad executive power gives the president a strong mandate to enforce the country's laws and administer the country's public policies. This clause also indicates that the president's (and vice president's) term of office lasts four years.

Clause 2. Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress: but no Senator or Representative, or Person holding an Office of Trust or Profit under the United States, shall be appointed an Elector.

Here the Framers establish the Electoral College, creating a rather convoluted system for electing the president. Each state gets a number of electoral votes equal to its number of senators plus its number of US representatives; this system splits the difference between allocating electoral votes proportional to population or equally to each state. Over the course of American history, this system has allowed four candidates to win the presidency despite losing the nationwide popular vote, most recently Donald Trump in 2016.

Clause 3. The Electors shall meet in their respective States, and vote by Ballot for two Persons, of whom one at least shall not be an Inhabitant of the same State with themselves. And they shall make a List of all the Persons voted for, and of the Number of Votes for each; which List they shall sign and certify, and transmit sealed to the Seat of the Government of the United States, directed to the President of the Senate. The President of the Senate shall, in the Presence of the Senate and House of Representatives, open all the Certificates, and the Votes shall then be counted. The Person having the greatest Number of Votes shall be the President, if such Number be a Majority of the whole Number of Electors appointed; and if there be more than one who have such Majority, and have an equal Number of Votes, then the House of Representatives shall immediately choose by Ballot one of them for President; and if no Person have a Majority, then from the five highest on the List the said House shall in like Manner choose the President. But in choosing the President, the Votes shall be taken by States, the Representation from each State having one Vote; A quorum for this Purpose shall consist of a Member or Members from two thirds of the States, and a Majority of all the States shall be necessary to a Choice. In every Case, after the Choice of the President, the Person having the greatest Number of Votes of the Electors shall be the Vice President. But if there should remain two or more who have equal Votes, the Senate shall chuse from them by Ballot the Vice President.

This whole bit got deleted by the 12th Amendment, which took effect all the way back in 1804. The original system proved not to work too well in the election of 1800, when Thomas Jefferson accidentally finished in a tie with his vice-presidential running-mate, Aaron Burr. The 12th Amendment sought to avoid that problem by separating the balloting for president from that for vice president.

Clause 4. The Congress may determine the Time of chusing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their Votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.

Congress gets to set the date for presidential elections. Since the mid-nineteenth century, Congress has always chosen to hold presidential elections on the Tuesday following the first Monday in November.

Clause 5. No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.

Formal job requirements for the presidency: he has to have been born in the United States, he has to be at least 35 years old, and he has to been living inside the US for at least 14 years. (That's it?)

Clause 6. In Case of the Removal of the President from Office, or of his Death, Resignation, or Inability to discharge the Powers and Duties of the said Office, the Same shall devolve on the Vice President, and the Congress may by Law provide for the Case of Removal, Death, Resignation or Inability, both of the President and Vice President, declaring what Officer shall then act as President, and such Officer shall act accordingly, until the Disability be removed, or a President shall be elected.

This clause, which establishes a procedure for what to do if the president (or vice president) kicks the bucket while in office, was modified by the 25th Amendment in 1967.

Clause 7. The President shall, at stated Times, receive for his Services, a Compensation, which shall neither be encreased nor diminished during the Period for which he shall have been elected, and he shall not receive within that Period any other Emolument from the United States, or any of them.

The presidency is a paid position. The president receives a pre-set salary that cannot be changed during the course of his term. The president's salary is currently set at $400,000, plus a $50,000 expense account. Decent work if you can get it…

Clause 8. Before he enter on the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:--"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States."

The Constitution actually spells out the exact language of the presidential oath of office, which must be taken upon the president's inauguration. When Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts flubbed the oath during Barack Obama's 2009 inauguration, mixing up the order of the words, Obama had to take the oath again in a private ceremony the next day, just to make sure that he was really president under the terms of the Constitution.