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Top Legal Questions About the President's Power

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on April 05, 2017 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

There were certainly questions about presidential power during Barack Obama's presidency, especially when it came to Obamacare and his executive actions on gun control. But those questions have reached a fever pitch under President Donald Trump, as he has attempted to remake the presidency in his own image.

So what are the limits on the president's power, if any?

1. Can President Trump Change the Constitution?

As a candidate, Trump proposed quite a few constitutional amendments. Now that he's president, can he make them happen? Even though a president can't unilaterally change the text of the Constitution, he can direct executive agencies in their interpretation and enforcement of its provisions.

2. What Power Does the President Have Over Deportation Policy?

There are reports of immigration officials pulling undocumented persons out of hospitals. Is this a new practice? And how much impact can President Trump have on choosing who to deport and why?

3. Can the President Really Curb Speech of Federal Agencies?

Trump's White House issued directives to several federal agencies, looking to limit public statements and social media posts regarding matters that the previous administration supported. But do those orders violate federal employees' First Amendment rights?

4. Ethics Rules for White House Employees

There are strict ethics rules regulating what government officials should do when they have a personal financial interest in a certain business or industry, generally requiring the official to disclose their interest and recuse themselves from work where there could be a conflict of interest. But the Trump administration appears to be playing fast and loose with those rules.

5. Can Trump Cancel the Iran Deal?

Previous President Barack Obama's administration brokered a historic nuclear agreement with Iran in 2015, an accord current President Donald Trump has called "the stupidest deal of all time." Does that mean the current administration can back out of the deal?

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