Article 2, Section 2, Clauses 2 and 3

Document 52

St. George Tucker, Blackstone's Commentaries 1:App. 342--43


The act of 5 Cong. c. 153, authorised the president to make appointments to fill any vacancies in the army and navy which may have happened during that session of the senate. And this without any reservation of the right of the senate to approve, or reject, at a succeeding session. This was among the manifold acts of that period for encreasing the power of the president, far beyond the limits assigned by the constitution; limits already sufficiently large for every beneficial purpose. The right of nomination to office in all cases where the senate are to be consulted upon the appointment, being the undoubted privilege of the president under the constitution, should he persist in the nomination of a person to office after the senate have rejected him, there is no constitutional control over him, by which he may be compelled to nominate any other person. The office then may be kept vacant through this disagreement between them. But if it should have happened that the office became vacant during the recess of the senate, and the vacancy were filled by a commission which should expire, not at the meeting of the senate, but at the end of their session, then, in case such a disagreement between the president and senate, if the president should persist in his opinion, and make no other nomination, the person appointed by him during the recess of the senate would continue to hold his commission, until the end of their session: so that the vacancy would happen a second time during the recess of the senate, and the president consequently, would have the sole right of appointing a second time; and the person whom the senate have rejected, may be instantly replaced by a new commission. And thus it is evidently in the power of the president to continue any person in office, whom he shall once have appointed in the recess of the senate, as long as he may think proper. A circumstance which renders the power of nomination, and of filling up vacancies during the recess of the senate, too great, to require any further extention. Even the control of elections loses it's force, in great measure, in such cases: the influence of a president, and the activity and zeal of his partizans encreasing in proportion to the number of offices which he has power to fill, and to the measure of obligation which the persons preferred by his favour, may suppose they owe to him, for the distinction.

Perhaps these inconveniencies might have been avoided, if the constitution had required more than one person to have been put in nomination by the president for those offices, where the concurrence of the senate is required to complete the appointment, or, that in case of disagreement between the president and senate, two thirds of the latter might appoint, without a previous nomination by the president, in case he should decline any further nomination, after the first had been rejected.

The Founders' Constitution
Volume 4, Article 2, Section 2, Clauses 2 and 3, Document 52
The University of Chicago Press

Tucker, St. George. Blackstone's Commentaries: With Notes of Reference to the Constitution and Laws of the Federal Government of the United States and of the Commonwealth of Virginia. 5 vols. Philadelphia, 1803. Reprint. South Hackensack, N.J.: Rothman Reprints, 1969.

Easy to print version.