Document Type



Made for the Bryant University Honors Program and Honors 490 as a Senior Thesis.

First Faculty Advisor

Richard Holtzman & Ilisabeth Bornstein

Second Faculty Advisor

Allison Kaminaga


presidency; presidential power; executive orders; civil rights; Supreme Court


Bryant University

Rights Management



Presidential Power has changed significantly throughout history. Despite the founders' intentions of a weak executive and strong legislature, the power of the President has become increasingly large. Presidents can utilize this power through unilateral actions. One unilateral action that has been under-researched in academic research is the executive order. Executive orders are not a power explicitly granted in the Constitution, allowing Presidents to take advantage of Constitutional vagueness and potentially cross the line between the separation of powers, becoming both a quasi-legislator and quasi-interpreter of the law. This paper aims to understand executive orders application to modern Civil Rights through case research of Supreme Court decisions. After analyzing recent unpopular Court decisions on Civil Rights, an analysis is done to see where the President acted in response to those decisions. I find that a loss in Supreme Court legitimacy over the past few years has incentivized the President to act via executive order on civil rights. This means that when a civil rights decision was unpopular, the President would respond with an executive order.