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Executive Branch DBQ  

Lesson Objective: Students will describe the purpose, limitations and impact of executive orders in maintaining order and providing safety for citizens.
Last Updated: Mar 8, 2017 URL: Print Guide RSS Updates

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Executive Branch DBQ 

General Directions:

In this DBQ you will examine several historical documents related to the historical impact of presidentail executive orders and their effect on the rights of U.S. citizens.

1) You will need to read, annotate, and analyze each of the document sets. You may make notes electronically right on the documents and save them to your One Drive account.  You can also take notes on the graphic organizer as you go along. 

2) Answer ALL of the questions that are related to the documents (these follow each of the document sets).  Be sure to answer these questions carefully and completely. 

3) Choose ONE of the three Essay Questions to complete.  Be sure to follow the guidelines provided on the rubric as you compose your response.


Background on Presidential Executive Orders

Throughout history, presidents have been criticized and accused of abusing the power of executive orders. Presidential executive orders possess the power of law.  Presidents use them to make laws without Congressional approval as well as to move existing laws away from their original intent. Although these wide-ranging government policies have been useful in addressing social issues and the rights of individuals and groups, they have also been politically contentious in some instances between the executive (POTUS) and legislative (Congress) branches. Executive orders have included the integration of the armed forces under President Truman and the desegregation of public schools under President Eisenhower.


An extreme example of an executive order is Executive Order 9066, where Franklin D. Roosevelt delegated military authority to remove any or all people (used to target specifically Japanese Americans and German Americans) in a military zone. This paved the way for all Japanese-American citizens to be sent to internment camps during World War II.


Through the principle of checks and balances, a president’s executive order could be overturned by a court decision or the passing of laws by Congress. Of course the president retains the power to veto a bill that Congress passes to overturn an executive order; however, Congress could override the veto with a two-thirds majority to end an executive order. It has been argued that a Congressional override of an executive order is a nearly impossible event due to the supermajority vote required and the fact that such a vote leaves individual lawmakers very vulnerable to political criticism from voters and the media.


The Executive Branch


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