In reviewing the power of a President, the best students will comment that power is fluid – it not static for the duration of a 4/8 year presidency but it varies with the President, divided/unified government, national events and so on. There had been a number of headlines recently suggesting that Obama was becoming more and more lame duck. Yet recent events do throw some questions up about this.

This article talks about the vacancy on the SC and his historic visit to Cuba as evidence as his power, and in addition to that he has this week asked Congress to lift it’s law banning the movement of Guantanamo Bay detainees onto US soil, which would allow him to finally close Guantanamo. This all speaks to some level of power in his final year. However:

“Obama still faces risks in his final year, above all on foreign policy, where he is in danger of becoming captive to what takes place on distant battlefields, conflicts that he will try to side-step. Those include the installation of Chinese missiles in the South China Sea, continuing Russian brinkmanship in Ukraine, chaos in Syria, and lingering troubles in Afghanistan and Iraq. The rightward drift in Israel hardly merits a mention.

And at home, he could end up playing more defense on several key issues, such as the Clean Power Plan and the immigration executive order, which are working their way through the judicial system. Some have better chances with an incomplete Supreme Court, while others could fare worse.”

The battle for the SC vacancy will be huge (and is dealt with in other blog posts) but there is certainly enough evidence here to debate Obama’s power in his final year in office, rather than simply writing him off.

Guantanamo Bay remains an outstanding case study for the entire US course – opened and closed by executive orders (Presidency – Unit 4), these orders were interpretations of the USA PATRIOT Act 2001 (Congress – Unit 4). The Supreme Court has waded in on more than one occasion (Hamdi 2004, Hamden 2006, Boumediene 2008 – Supreme Court Unit 4) and given the the Court were interpreting the Bill of Rights in these cases it could be used as good evidence for the Constitution (Unit 4) and Civil Rights (Unit 3). Equally, the opinion about the closure of Guantanamo in Congress in split largely down parties lines (Parties – Unit 3). Therefore having a good understanding of this case study can provide you with evidence for most topics within the US politics course.

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