Does the Separation of Powers Allow the President to Deliver a Face-to-Face Message to Congress?

Wilson SOU

Today this sounds like a silly question, but there was a time in American history when something like a State of the Union Address was unthinkable.  Karen Tumulty explains in her recent piece at The Washington Post.  A taste:

When President Trump steps into the well of the House on Tuesday to give his first formal State of the Union address, he will be performing one of the most familiar presidential rituals.

But for nearly half the nation’s history, the idea of a president personally delivering a speech on Congress’s turf was considered an act so presumptuous as to be nearly unthinkable.

The president who broke the mold — and introduced the kind of speech that modern Americans expect to hear each year — was Woodrow Wilson.

Wilson tested out the idea barely a month after his 1913 inauguration, when he traveled to Capitol Hill to give a speech on tariffs.

“Washington is amazed,” The Washington Post pronounced in a headline, over a story that noted no president since John Adams had done such a thing.

“Disbelief was expressed in congressional circles when the report that the President would read his message in person to the Congress was first circulated,” The Post reported, but assured its readers that such spectacles were “not to become a habit.”

Read the rest here.