I remember having read long time ago an article on an European magazine about a particular, less-known institution of the United States that has the sole purpose of verifying the behavior and actions of the President i.e. checks that his/her acts respect the Constitution, etc.

The article also mentioned that the President has no power, influence, or any direct contact over this institution, in order to preserve its impartiality and its freedom of movement. (In fact, this exact point of the article stroke me as remarkable.)

What is the name of this organism? Or was the article incorrect?

  • 2
    I think that "particular, less known institution" is what we call "the Judicial Branch" and "Legislative Branch"
    – user1530
    Feb 6, 2017 at 19:14

2 Answers 2


No there is no single entity that does what you describe. However there are several institutions that can curb Presidential authority.

Executive Branch Curbs

Executive branch members swear an oath to defend the Constitution that pre-empts all other obligations. The President cannot expect an unlawful order to be carried out.

The White House Counsel and Department of Justice serve as sounding boards to ensure executive actions initiated by the President are lawful prior to implementation, although sometimes they get it wrong.

Almost all executive branch organizations have an Inspector General that oversees abuses within their purview.

Checks and Balances with the Congress and Judiciary

United States Department of Justice Office of Special Counsel can be called to prosecute specific acts by Congress and the Attorney General.

The Congress can investigate through it's committee structure and subpoena power Executive Branch activities and acts, and ultimately impeach and remove the president from power.

The Congress also has the Congressional Research Service and the Library of Congress (and its Law Library) which can conduct analysis and legal research independently.

The Courts and especially the Supreme Court can overturn laws and acts that are determined unconstitutional.

Other checks

The people have the ability to remove him from office during election.

  • Thanks for your answer. It seems the article (published on a European magazine) was wrong after all.
    – Ouroboros
    Feb 5, 2017 at 15:32
  • 3
    Sure, they were probably talking about the Office of Special Counsel which is independent and can look into Presidential acts or misdeeds, but it has to be called to do so.
    – user9790
    Feb 5, 2017 at 15:34
  • 3
    There also used to be a standing Independent Counsel until it was eliminated in the 1990s, so the article may must have been outdated.
    – cpast
    Feb 5, 2017 at 17:59
  • 1
    Good answer. You might want to also mention the concept of "checks and balances" that our country set up with the 3 branches (you talk about that, but maybe that specific term would help).
    – user1530
    Feb 6, 2017 at 19:15
  • There are at least a couple more: The courts can declare that the President is affirmatively obligated to act or not act under existing duly executed law which may conflict with executive orders or regulations. And, under the 25th Amendment, the cabinet can declare that the President suffers from a disability and put an "acting President" in place pending further determination of that disability status. There are also numerous independent agencies in the executive branch over which the President has the power to appoint boards for fixed terms but not to direct in a command and control way.
    – ohwilleke
    Feb 6, 2017 at 19:41

quite a few possible answers:

1) the two other branches of the government act as checks and balances;

2) GAO;

3) various watchdogs;

4) citizens;

5) state governments;

6) elections;


  • How do these institutions verify the work of the president and what instruments do they possess to sanction or overrule the president?
    – Philipp
    Feb 6, 2017 at 12:36
  • 1
    @Philipp to be fair, the question was asking which ones--not how.
    – user1530
    Feb 6, 2017 at 19:16

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