The Two Appointments Clauses: Statutory Qualifications for Federal Officers

52 Pages Posted: 22 Sep 2007


Congress often exercises control over appointments to federal office by writing job qualifications and putting them directly into the statute creating the office. This practice is best examined by viewing the Appointments Clause not as a single entity, but as two related clauses that set up two very different methods of appointment: presidential nomination and Senate confirmation as the default method, and vesting in one of three authorized positions as an optional alternative method for certain types of officers. When creating an office, Congress must choose one of these methods for appointing the officer, but cannot create a hybrid method combining the two procedures. In this article, I examine the text, history, and structure of the Constitution to determine what is required by each of the two appointments processes. I conclude that statutory qualifications are consistent with the Constitution's process for vested appointments, but inconsistent with the nomination and confirmation process.

Keywords: appointments, federal office, officer, constitutional law, originalism, separation of powers, presidential power

Suggested Citation

Volokh, Hanah M., The Two Appointments Clauses: Statutory Qualifications for Federal Officers. University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law, Vol. 10, 2008. Available at SSRN:

Hanah M. Volokh (Contact Author)

Emory University School of Law ( email )

1301 Clifton Road
Atlanta, GA 30322
United States

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