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The regular troops of the United States are under the immediate command of the president from the time of their enlistment; they may be marched to, or stationed at any part of the United States, at his discretion, unless prevented by some special legislative act, and although the genius of a republic and the peculiar character of our country would indicate that their employment should be only in its defence, yet since a defensive war is sometimes best carried on by invading the territory of the aggressor, the president may cause them to be marched out of the United States to effect this purpose, and there can be no doubt that in such a case he would possess the same power over the militia. It
may perhaps be made a question, whether for the suppression of insurrection, and in cases of a similar nature, the president can employ the regular troops in aid of the civil authority. The acts of congress are silent on the subject, and no power given by them would be valid unless it could be supported by the principles of the constitution. It must be admitted to be a question of great delicacy and importance. No power is so likely to be abused as the command of a regular army-no measure would be more dangerous to civil liberty than an habitual recurrence to military force in other cases than actual war, yet on the other hand, in times of dangerous commotion, when law is prostrated and the civil power is felt to be inadequate, the public good would appear to justify the most prompt and efficient remedy.
Soldiers do not cease to be citizens by being incor-, porated into a regular army, and it is the duty of every citizen in cases of this sort, to render his best services to his country. It can be no objection to the fulfilment of this duty, that it is rendered more efficacious by previous discipline, and by being performed in a regular
and not a desultory manner. It is however, always to be kept in mind, that the military should be subordinate to the civil power. The orders for the employment of this force on such occasions must emanate from the president in his civil capacity, or from civil officers of the United States, possessing the authority of conservators of the peace if any such there be.
That the exercise of this power should be attended with great caution, no one will deny; real necessity alone will justify its being exercised at all. There can be no doubt that, if it occasioned the loss of human life, the whole measure would be liable to severe judicial scrutiny.
Of the Appointment to Offices.
IN addition to the power over the army, navy, and militia, already noticed, the president has a qualified power of appointing the executive and judicial officers. T'he former of these are held during his pleasure; the latter during good behaviour. In respect to both, the commissions are granted by the president, but they specify that it is by and with the advice and consent of the senate. It was deemed expedient that the approbation of the senate should be given, unless a vacancy happened during its recess, in which case commissions are granted which expire at the end of the next session.
It may, however, be questioned, whether this restraint on the power of the president fully corresponds with the confidence which is otherwise reposed in him, and whether it does not in some degree affect the responsibility to public opinion which would accompany an unlimited power of appointments.
If it were left entirely to himself to select such agents as he might deem qualified for public duties, he would of course be scrupulous in his choice; but if a senate, either actuated by party motives, or for want of information of the fitness of the individual, rejects the nomination, not only may the public interests suffer in the immediate case, but the president be impelled to inadequate substitutions. It is true, that the converse of this proposition may also be admitted. Improper nominations, proceeding from personal or party influence,
may be properly rejected by a virtuous and inflexible senate; but in the latter case, if it ever should be our misfortune to have a man so actuated in possession of this high office, we may see him immediately after the rising of the senate, dismiss the incumbent, or in case of their rejecting one nomination, witholding another, and availing himself of the power to appoint during the recess. It would, therefore, appear upon the whole, that with the possibility of an evasion which would render the constitutional provision so entirely pugatory, it would have been more beneficial to have left this power in the president without restraint, and the more so, as the consent of the senate is not required for the dismission of the officer.
It would be improper to pass over the construction given by the senate to the power of appointing during their recess. It has been held by that venerable body, that if new offices are created by congress, the president cannot after the adjournment of the senate, make appointments to fill them. The vacancies do not happen during the recess of the senate. (67)
The text is not very explicit as to the officers whose appointments require the consent of the senate: it enumerates ambassadors, other public ministers, and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not therein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law; but the congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers as they think proper in the president alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of departments. The term “inferior' is somewhat vague, and it is perhaps left to congress to determine how to apply it, if they do not otherwise di
(67) See Sergeant's Constitutional Law, p. 360.
rect, the consent of the senate is necessary under the qualifications described.
A proper selection and appointment of subordinate officers, is one of the strongest marks of a powerful mind. It is a duty of the president to acquire, as far as possible, an intimate knowledge of the capacities and characters of his fellow citizens; to disregard the importunities of friends; the hints or menaces of enemies; the bias of party, and the hope of popularity. The latter is sometimes the refuge of feeble-minded men, but its gleam is transient if it is obtained by a dereliction of honest duty and sound discretion. Popular favour is best secured by carefully ascertaining and strictly pursuing the true interests of the people. The president himself is elected on the supposition that he is the most capable citizen to understand and promote those interests, and in every appointment he ought to consider himself as executing a public trust of the same nature. Neither should the fear of giving offence to the public, or pain to the individual, deter him from the immediate exercise of his power of removal on proof of incapacity or infidelity in the subordinate officer. The public, uninformed of the necessity, may be surprised, and at first dissatisfied; but public approbation ultimately accompanies the fearless and upright discharge of duty. On the other hand, hasty and capricious dismissions from office are equally reprehensible. Although the officer may be dependent on the pleasure of the president, a sound discretion was expected to regulate that pleasure. The motives to attain a degree of excellence in the kuowledge and performance of official duties are greatly abated, if the tenure is rendered altogether uncertain, and if he who by industry, capacity, and fidelity, has proved himself a useful servant of the public, is causelessly removed,