Opinions

Opinions

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Title Headnotes
The President’s Power in the Field of Foreign Relations

The first section of this memorandum canvasses the historical precedents that delineate the President’s prerogatives vis-à-vis Congress in foreign relations. These precedents tend to fall into one of two categories: those reflecting the Hamiltonian view that the President as Chief Executive has sole and unlimited authority to determine the nation’s foreign policy, and those reflecting the Madisonian view that Congress as the law-making body has primary authority to determine the nation’s foreign policy, which the President must take care to enforce.

The second section of this memorandum concludes that the power of the President to repel invasion is unquestioned. It would not be necessary to resolve the conflict between the Hamiltonian and Madisonian views in the event of an invasion, because statutes expressly provide that “whenever the United States shall be invaded or in imminent danger of invasion by any foreign nation,” the President may use the military and naval forces to repel such invasion.

The third section of this memorandum discusses the application of the Neutrality Act of 1937 to the Spanish Civil War and the China-Japan conflict.

Presidential Authority to Direct Departments and Agencies to Withhold Expenditures From Appropriations Made

Neither the Economy Act of 1933 nor any other statute authorizes the President to direct departments and agencies, either on a percentum basis or with reference to specific items, to withhold expenditures from appropriations made.

In the absence of legislative sanction, an executive order withholding expenditures from appropriations made would not be binding on the disbursing officers in the event that a department head or other authorized official should desire funds from the amount ordered to be withheld.

The President may request or direct the heads of the departments and agencies to attempt to effect such savings as may be possible without violation of a duty prescribed by law.

Censorship of Transmission of Trotzky Speech From Mexico

The Federal Communications Commission does not have statutory authority to censor the telephone transmission from Mexico into the United States of a speech by Leon Trotzky.

Authority of the Federal Communications Commission to Deny a Broadcast License to a Newspaper Owner

The Federal Communications Commission does not have authority under the Communications Act of 1934 to refuse to grant broadcasting licenses on the ground that the ownership of the proposed facilities is in, or in common with, a newspaper.

It is doubtful that Congress has the power to broaden the Act to provide the FCC with such authority.

Such a provision would not violate the First Amendment clauses protecting the freedom of speech and of the press, but it would probably be held arbitrary and violative of the Fifth Amendment.

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