Domain of public policy making whereby the national government orders its relations with other countries.
The Supreme Court typically defers to the political branches of the government in the area of foreign policy making. The president is constitutionally the lead actor in dealing with foreign governments. Article II of the U.S. Constitution invests the president with the power to make treaties, to conduct foreign relations, and, as commander in chief, to make war. Congress is not without authority in these areas, but its powers are more limited. The Senate advises and consents to the ratification of treaties, while the president negotiates and ratifies them and determines which agreements will be submitted for formal Senate consideration. Only Congress may declare war, but it does so only after a presidential request, and it is the president who, as commander in chief, conducts the war. The president nominates ambassadors subject to congressional approval. In each case the president acts and Congress reacts in matters involving foreign affairs.
The one area in which Congress has primary power is in the authorization of budgets for the conduct of foreign policy, but rarely does it use this power to contradict a president’s foreign policy. Although the Constitution nowhere says definitively that the president is the primary constitutional authority in foreign affairs, and indeed both the president and Congress are invested with certain powers relative to the making and conduct of foreign policy, the deck is stacked in the president’s favor. Still, the interpretation and relationship of the checks and balances that exist in this area have proved an invitation throughout U.S. history to struggle and contest between the executive and legislative branches, and the Supreme Court has ruled in several important cases in ways that have supported the assertion of presidential authority.
Presidential authority in foreign policy increased in the twentieth century, as the United States rose to a position of prominence in international affairs. The Court, although not a direct player in the foreign policy arena, provided, in a series of rulings, an interpretation of the Constitution that supported the growth of presidential authority in this arena. In Missouri v. Holland
The Court proved extremely reluctant to interfere with political
However, although a president’s powers are considered to be broad in the foreign policy area, they are limited. The Court ruled in Youngstown Sheet and Tube Co. v. Sawyer
Bland, Randall W. The Black Robe and the Bald Eagle: The Supreme Court and Foreign Policy, 1789-1960. Bethesda, Md.: Austin & Winfield, 1998. Corwin, Edward S. The President: Office and Powers. New York: New York University Press, 1984. Goldwin, Robert A., and Robert A. Licht, eds. Foreign Policy and the Constitution. Washington, D.C.: American Enterprise Press, 1990. Henkin, Louis. Foreign Affairs and the Constitution. Mineola, N.Y.: Foundation Press, 1996. Westerfield, Donald L. War Powers: The President, the Congress, and the Question of War. Westport, Conn.: Praeger, 1996.
Curtiss-Wright Export Corp., United States v.
Goldwater v. Carter
War Powers Act of 1973
Wartime seizure power
Youngstown Sheet and Tube Co. v. Sawyer