Executive orders are orders from the president to other executive branch officials instructing them on how the president wants these officials to enforce the law, but these executive orders cannot create new law. An executive order is not an act of legislation. And an executive order cannot deprive someone of life, liberty, or property. For that, you need a court. An executive order cannot change existing legal rights and obligations. Executive orders can also be issued by principal officers to their inferior officers. Indeed, executive orders have been exercised and issued from the first years of the republic where Alexander Hamilton instructed his treasury officials, his custom officials, how to interpret and execute and implement the collection laws and the custom laws of the country. The executive branch uses executive orders today more or less exactly like the executive branch has always used them. There is, however, some difference, but this difference lies with Congress. Congress today enacts increasingly broad statutes. In a sense, it delegates broad powers to the executive branch. The broader Congress writes its statutes, the more play there is for the executive to decide how to implement and enforce the law. Thus, when Congress delegates broad power to the executive or legislates in broad terms, that leaves a lot more room for the executive to issue a lot more executive orders and to conduct policy through these executive orders.

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