The Constitutional Separation of Powers Between the President and Congress

Headnotes: 

This memorandum provides an overview of the constitutional issues that periodically arise concerning the relationship between the executive and legislative branches of the federal government. Although that relationship is shaped in part by the policy and political concerns of the President and Congress of the day, the political interaction between the President and Congress takes place within an enduring constitutional framework that confers powers and responsibilities on both elected branches. In this memorandum we discuss the general principles underlying separation of powers analysis, and we address certain specific questions that have arisen in the past. Any set of examples is necessarily illustrative rather than exhaustive, however, and the Office of Legal Counsel is always available to assist in reviewing legislation or other congressional action for potential separation of powers issues.

Updated July 31, 2014