Legal Context for Executive Agreements
Despite the name, an executive agreement is not meaningfully an aspect of contract law, at least according to the terms and conditions through which this legal category is usually understood, but rather of Constitutional law. More specifically, the “executive agreement” concept in U.S. law pertains to such varied matters as the ability to exercise control over the foreign policy of the country; more specifically in terms of its relationship to other nations through treaties and other documents and mechanisms and to the separation of powers between the different branches of the Federal U.S. Government.
This last concept constitutes a primary consideration undertaken by the U.S. Constitution, and accordingly applicable to the theories and debates as continue to this day, over the application of the United States’ foundational and essential, yet broad and ambiguous, document.
Application of Executive Agreements in U.S. Law
To further illuminate these points, it might be noted that an executive agreement is a treaty passed by the President of the United States with the government of another national jurisdiction and without the consent of the legislature of the United States. Presidents are said to have used the so-called “discretion” vested in their office when they make the determination of enacting an executive agreement and thus bypassing the necessity of relying upon the power of Congress. Moreover, an executive agreement could applicably be contrasted with a legislative-executive agreement.