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Constitution Monday: Why State of the Union

Note: Throughout this series, items that are hyperlinked were in the Constitution as written in 1787 but have since been amended or superseded.

Article II of the Constitution of the United States established the Executive Branch with the President as its head,  Here is Article II, Section III:

Section. 3.

He shall from time to time give to the Congress Information of the State of the Union, and recommend to their Consideration such Measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary Occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in Case of Disagreement between them, with Respect to the Time of Adjournment, he may adjourn them to such Time as he shall think proper; he shall receive Ambassadors and other public Ministers; he shall take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed, and shall Commission all the Officers of the United States.

If you’ve wondered why the President delivers a State of the Union address to Congress every January, this is why. The Constitution doesn’t say the President has to give a speech, only that he provide Congress with a report on the State of the Union. President Jefferson and his successors up until President Wilson in 1913 sent letters to Congress in lieu of speeches.

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