The 1 Important Thing You Should Know About Executive Orders

During his first few days as president of the United States, Donald Trump has signed 12 executive orders. Many of his executive orders have already caused controversy and raised concerns, including an order that experts say will have serious consequences to women's health and well-being internationally, as well as a proposal to create a pipeline to carry oil from Canada to the Gulf Coast, which could pollute Native American water resources.

If that weren't enough, on Jan 25, Trump signed yet another executive order to build a wall between the US and Mexico in keeping with his campaign promise. So what does this all mean? How is Trump allowed to make these demands and set these policies without going through Congress first? Well, it all goes back to understanding what an executive order truly means.

Language in Article II of the Constitution grants every president in the United States "executive power," which commanders in chief throughout history have used to defend issuing such orders, which might bypass lawmakers who are resistant to them. (The Supreme Court has upheld almost every challenge to these orders.) After an executive order is signed, it becomes a legally binding declaration that must be followed by the government. Because these orders allow presidents so much autonomy, they are usually controversial — yet every single president in history has exercised their power to use them; in fact, more than 13,000 executive orders have been issued since the founding of the United States.

Executive orders can be overturned by any incoming president.

In case you're worried about how many executive orders Trump has already signed thus far, there is one thing that might make you feel better: executive orders can be overturned by any incoming president.