Politics of presidential appointments
Guiding question: What influences the president's choices in the appointment process?
- "advice & consent"
- checks & balances
- confirmation process
- line of succession
- recess appointment
- separation of powers
- Another constitutionally mandated power of the president is the power of appointment (Article II, Section 2). This includes his cabinet members and other top-level staff members we examined in the last lesson, heads of government affiliated commissions and other arms of the federal bureaucracy, ambassadors to foreign nations, and federal judges.
- While it is the job of Congress to create federal departments, the president chooses those who will lead them. But, in line with the whole concept of checks and balances and the separation of powers, in the confirmation process the Senate must approve (or as it's put in the Constitution, "by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate") of all presidential appointments by a simple majority.
- There are two issues in the area of presidential appointments that often get attention. The first is the president's Constitutional authority to make recess appointments.
- The other involves patronage and political favors.
- Read "The Confirmation Process" and "Factors that Influence Presidential Appointments" below. Be prepared to discuss this question:
- If you were President of the United States, what qualities would an individual have to possess in order to be considered for a cabinet post, high-level staff position, or a judgeship?"
- To gain insight into what the president must consider when nominating people to a particular cabinet or government post, examine the file containing three political cartoons below. In your groups, answer these questions for each cartoon. You may have to do a little Web research to discover the context of each cartoon. Be prepared to discuss each in class.
- 1. Describe the context of the cartoon (Who? What? When? Where?)
2. Identify and discuss the cartoon message. What bias(es) can you detect?
3. Do you agree or disagree with the cartoonist's message? Why or why not?
4. How does this cartoon relate to the process and politics of presidential appointments.
Read the articles below that illustrate the potentially rocky road presidents travel in the nomination process then answer the following question on a separate sheet of paper:
- What do the articles reveal about the influence of politics in the presidential appointment process? Provide specific examples from the articles to support your generalizations.