The Power to Proclaim ...by Brandon Rottinghaus, University of Houston
A presidential proclamation is “an instrument that states a condition, declares a law and requires obedience, recognizes an event or triggers the implementation of a law (by recognizing that the circumstances in law have been realized)” (Cooper 2002, 116). In short, presidents “define” situations or conditions on situations that become legal or economic truth. These orders carry the same force of law as executive orders – the difference between the two is that executive orders are aimed at those inside government while proclamations are aimed at those outside government. The administrative weight of these proclamations is upheld because they are often specifically authorized by congressional statute, making them “delegated unilateral powers.” Presidential proclamations are often dismissed as a practical presidential tool for policy making because of the perception of proclamations as largely ceremonial or symbolic in nature. However, the legal weight of presidential proclamations suggests their importance to presidential governance. - click to continue reading this research note
Although less significant in terms of public policy, proclamations are also used ceremonially by presidents to honor a group or situation or to call attention to certain issues or events. For instance, President George H.W. Bush issued a proclamation to honor veterans of World War II and President Reagan called attention to the health of the nation’s eyes by proclaiming a “Save Your Vision Week”.
University of Houston
Cooper, Phillip J. 2002. By Order of the President: The Use and Abuse of Executive
Direct Action. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press.