The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article II, Section 3: "[The President] shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; …." This clause gives the President the power and authority to go before Congress to report on serious problems and to give Congress and American citizens "the state of the
Union." The President usually makes a "State of
the Union" address each January.
"Washington and Adams delivered their messages orally.
however, asked permission to submit his reports in writing because speaking put
an uncomfortable strain on his voice.
The written message remained the practice of the various presidents
until 1913, when President Wilson revived the oral report to Congress.
"Not only is the President required by the Constitution to give information to Congress from time to time, but the Congress has used this provision as a basis for requesting information." (See W. Cleon Skousen, The Making of
- The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, p. 559.) America
"As Chief Justice John Marshall pointed out in Marbury v. Madison (1803), much of the power of the executive is, in its nature, discretionary. Not so with the President's obligation to provide Congress with a report on the state of the
Union. In his Commentaries
on the Constitution of the United States, Justice Joseph Story observed that
because the President has more information of the complex workings of the
government, `[t]here is great wisdom, therefore, in not merely allowing, but in
requiring, the president to lay before congress all facts and information,
which may assist their deliberations; and in enabling him at once to point out
the evil, and to suggest the remedy.'
Only the President - with his unique knowledge of military operations,
foreign affairs, and the day-to-day execution of the laws, as well as being the
only national representative of the whole people - can give a comprehensive
assessment of the overall state of the nation and its relations with the
world." (See Matthew Spalding, The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, p.