Declaration of Independence

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. - That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Commission Officers

                The topic of discussion for this Constitution Monday comes from Article II, Section 3:  “[The President] shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.”  This provision gives power and authority to the President, as the Commander in Chief, to commission all federal and military officers who will serve under him.

                “This means that when the state militias are called up for federal service they will use their own officers up to a certain level, but the presiding officers will be appointed by the President as commander in chief.”  (See W. Cleon Skousen in The Making of America – The Substance and Meaning of the Constitution, p. 562.)

                “At the time of the Framing, every officer of the English government was an officer of the Crown, commissioned in the king’s name.  In feudal Britain, the sovereign enjoyed an absolute prerogative to create and bestow fiefs, packages of rights and responsibilities that included titles, land grants, and offices.  The grant of a fief would often be evidenced by a gift, which might be a banner, a sword, or a more formal charter.  As the feudal system faded, the authority to create offices and commission officers remained an attribute of monarchical power.  Indeed, the Declaration of Independence complains, `He [the king] has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people, and eat out their substance.’  Many Americans considered the English system inherently flawed, consolidating too much power with the executive and thus begetting cronyism and abuse.

                “In the years following independence, the new state and national governments experimented with decentralized methods of selecting and empowering officials….
                The delegates at the Constitutional Convention vigorously debated the appointment power, eventually arriving at the system described in Article II, Section 2.  But the Commissions Clause was never subject to debate; the Framers apparently accepted that granting commissions was a natural duty for the executive….”  (See Trent England in The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, pp. 224-225.)

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