Obama has issued fewer executive orders than any President since Grover Cleveland


President Obama's promise in his State of the Union address to make robust use of executive orders this year – and the Republican opprobium that quickly came afterward – belies the fact that he's the executive-in-chief to have so far made the least frequent use of orders since Grover Cleveland occupied the White House.

In addition, Republican presidents have issued more orders than their Democratic counterparts, at a rate of 0.23 versus 0.18 orders per day in office, finds analysis by Christopher Ingraham, until recently a data visualization specalist at the Brookings Institute.

The first half of the 20th century saw the most executive orders issued, with Franklin D. Roosevelt issuing almost one per day and Herbert Hoover issuing just under that.

Though executive orders carry the full weight of law, Congress and the courts can strike them down in several ways.

Congress can re-legislate or the courts can overturn the executive order.

"As long as it is not constitutionally based, Congress may repeal a presidential order, or terminate the underlying authority upon which the action is predicated," a Dec. 13, 2011 Congressional Research Service report (.pdf) says.

Congress also may retroactively repeal the statutory authority in which the president based his executive order. This would render any executive order, issued after the date established by Congress, invalid.

Still, Republicans have criticized Obama's declaration of executive power claiming its tyrannical and unlawful.

In a Jan. 28 statement Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) called Obama lawless and dangerous for how he disregards "the written law and instead enforce his own policies via executive fiat."

The Republican statements come a grandstanding, Brookings Institute fellow John Hudak says in a Jan. 30 Brookings blog post.

"There is much misinformation about President Obama's use of executive orders," Hudak writes. "Like many criticisms of many presidents, policy disagreements stemming from presidential actions do not automatically make those actions illegal. Executive orders are no different," Hudak says.

For more:
- go to the Jan. 30 Christopher Ingraham post
- go to the Jan. 28 Ted Cruz statement
- go to the Jan. 30 Hudak blog post
- download the Dec. 13, 2011 CRS report (.pdf)

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