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Q&A: Papers of the Framers/Founders of the United States of America

Where can I find the papers of the Founders/Framers of the United States Constitution?

A good place to start is the Stanford Library's US History Collections Page for Colonial/Revolutionary History. here is the link to the section on Founders' Documents. There are links to digital papers, as well as call numbers for items which are not digital.

As far as digital collections go, there are 2 good database sources:
Thomas (from the library of Congress)
and The Avalon Project (from Yale University Law School). The Avalon Project Main Page has a search function. you can start by linking to pre-18th Century documents, and then search for Framers, and you will find many documents discussing the intent of the Framers even in the 18th century!

Q&A: The legal authority for executive orders.


I am trying to find the source of authority for executive orders in the State of California. Does the Governor get this power from the State Constitution or from statutes? I'm finding it hard to track this down. I can't seem to find a specific reference in the California Constitution to Executive Orders.


You are right. The phrase "executive order" is not used in either the United States or California Constitutions. The power originates in the sections of the respective constitutions defining the executive power as such. In the case of California, Article V, Section 1: "The supreme executive power of this State is vested in the Governor." Because of this general authority, the Governor can issue orders regarding the actions of the various sub-divisions of the executive branch of government, the Governor being the "supreme executive power" in the State. Then, historically, the Governor can issue orders as allowed by statutes passed by the legislature which allow executive discretion over particular matters. So the power for any PARTICULAR executive order would reside in quite various statutes, not in any one place, like the Constitution. Therefore to know the power for any particular executive order, one would need to research that order, to find the legal -- that is, statute -- basis for it.

If you look at a number of current executive orders of the Governor, you will see each one [usually in the preamble before the actual order] gives the legal basis for issuing that order. Therefore, as I said, each order has its own specific legal justification, there being no general basis other than the power of the executive as defined by the Constitution. Looking at the particular orders, you'll see that the Governor is issuing directives to various parts of the executive branch regarding some issue as defined by this or that statute.

Constitutionally, the Governor can't issue any orders regarding the actions of either the legislature or the judiciary, except is specifically allowed by the Constituion. This is covered by the so-called "separation of powers" clause in the Constitution, Article 3, Section 3.

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