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Ronald Reagan and Executive Power

Ronald Reagan

RONALD REAGAN (1911–2004)
Fortieth president of the United States

“No, democracy is not a fragile flower. Still it needs cultivating. If the rest of this century is to witness the gradual growth of freedom and democratic ideals, we must take actions to assist the campaign for democracy.”

Note to Teachers

February 6, 2011, marks the one-hundredth anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s birth, providing an occasion for teaching and learning about President Reagan’s contributions to American constitutionalism and citizenship. To this end, the Center for Civic Education and the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation have collaborated to produce this lesson. 

Purpose of the Lesson

“Ronald Reagan and Executive Power” examines the use of presidential powers by Ronald Reagan, the fortieth president of the United States. It explores Article II of the Constitution, which grants the president executive powers. When you have completed this lesson, you should be able to explain and discuss how President Reagan exercised his authority under Article II of the Constitution concerning war powers, domestic policy, and foreign policy. You should be able to explain how the brevity and ambiguity of Article II allows presidents to interpret these powers, especially in relation to Congress. You should be able to evaluate and take positions on the constitutional issues raised by the exercise of these powers, drawing on specific examples from Ronald Reagan’s presidency.

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