Has the Use of Executive Orders by U.S. Presidents Been Reserved Mostly for Wartime?


Quick Answer

The use of executive orders by presidents of the United States has not always been reserved for use during wartime. For instance, President Harry Truman used an executive order to prevent a strike by steel workers in 1952.

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There are some instances in which executive orders were used by presidents during wartime. For instance, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an executive order during World War II to create detention centers for Japanese-Americans. During his presidency, Roosevelt issued 3,522 executive orders, which was the most of any president. Only four presidents have issued more than 1,000, including Thomas Jefferson with 2,922.

Some presidents have used executive orders to add details to laws that were passed by Congress or when they thought the legislative body was acting too slowly. For instance, President George Herbert Walker Bush issued an executive order in 1990 that prohibited deporting the spouses and children of immigrants who were currently seeking legal immigrant status. Presidents have also used executive orders with issues that impact the workplace. For instance, both Presidents Roosevelt and Barack Obama signed executive orders that prohibited discrimination against women, people of color and homosexuals in the workplace. The only president to not issue any executive orders was William Henry Harrison.

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