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 The Constitution provides that “[t]he executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America.” Art. II, §1, cl. 1. As Madison stated on the floor of the First Congress, “if any power whatsoever is in its nature Executive, it is the power of appointing, overseeing, and controlling those who execute the laws.” 1 Annals of Cong. 463 (1789). 


The removal of executive officers was discussed extensively in Congress when the first executive departments were created. The view that “prevailed, as most consonant to the text of the Constitution” and “to the requisite responsibility and harmony in the Executive Department,” was that the executive power included a power to oversee executive officers through removal; because that traditional executive power was not “expressly taken away, it remained with the President.” Letter from James Madison to Thomas Jefferson (June 30, 1789), 16 Documentary History of the First Federal Congress 893 (2004). “This Decision of 1789 provides contemporaneous and weighty evidence of the Constitution’s meaning since many of the Members of the First Congress had taken part in framing that instrument.” Bowsher v. Synar , 478 U. S. 714, 723-724 (1986) (internal quotation marks ...

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