Pizza and Politics: presidential powers

The Michael O. Leavitt Center for Politics & Public Service welcomed students to their weekly Pizza and Politics event discussing presidential power on Wednesday, Nov. 3. 

Julia Last and Katie Warner, both members of the executive council for the Leavitt Center, presented students with information regarding how presidential power has been interpreted throughout the years.

The Constitution states in Article II, Section 2 that, “the President shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concure.”

Warner opened up the discussion by asking the audience if the Founding Fathers should have put tighter restrictions on the President.

Ashley Cannon, an SUU student, said, “The Founding Fathers did not have the foresight to see everything that would happen in the future, but at the time it was well-written.”

Derek Nelson, a master’s of public administration student, thought the restrictions are sufficient. 

“There are several clauses that state all of the power is not delegated to one form of government,” Nelson said. “If we follow the Constitution tighter, we would not have the same issues.”

Last and Warner explained to the audience that presidential power has been interpreted with implied powers throughout the years. 

Warner then asked the audience if presidents abuse their power.

“I believe a lot of politicians play political games to benefit their party,” said Olivia Johnson, an SUU student. “It depends on the president and what the goals are for the party.”

Karaline Taylor, an SUU student, claimed it depends on the type of power being used.

“Some presidents have appointed a few too many Supreme Court Justices,” Taylor said. “But the pardon power is not used enough.”

The Founding Fathers feared a tyrannical government more than anything. They prioritized having three separate forms of government to check one another and balance power out. 

Last then asked the audience if these checks and balances sufficiently limit a president.

Abby Shelton, a member of the Leavitt Center, believed the checks are beneficial. 

“Elections and term limits also serve as a check,” Shelton said. “Presidents are out of office when their term ends.”

Carson Brown, an executive council member of the Leavitt Center, believed presidents should have more checks on their wartime powers. 

“Congress has the sole power to declare war, but we have not officially declared war since the 1940s,” Brown said. “How many wars have we been in since then?” 

Students were then introduced to former President Trump and President Biden’s actions regarding executive orders, federal appointments and foreign policy throughout their time in office.

Last and Warner asked the audience if Trump and Biden’s use of presidential power was justified.

Nelson explained that he believed the actions of Trump were justified. 

“I do not agree with everything he did,” Nelson said. “However, he used his power either by precedent or by law.”

In his first week, Biden signed 22 executive orders, while Trump signed four. Throughout his presidency, Trump signed 220 executive orders, while his predecessors both signed over 250 during their two terms. 

“The nature of executive orders is having lateral power while in office,” Jacob Gunderson said. “It is all a cycle, the next guy will tear it all up.”

Cannon believes there needs to be more compromise on both sides.

“Both Biden and Trump have made politics less efficient,” Cannon said. “There should be a better way to compromise and work together than just undoing things that their predecessor did.”

The next Pizza and Politics is next Wednesday, Nov. 10 at noon. The topic being discussed will be grand juries in room 112 of the Sharwan Smith Student Center.


Story by: Lexi Hamel

Photos by: Anja Hayes