Facebook Twitter Tumblr Close Skip to main content
A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center

Obama’s Executive Orders

Q: Has President Barack Obama signed 900 executive orders, some of which create martial law?

A: No. Obama’s executive orders do not create martial law. And so far he has signed 139 executive orders — not 900.


I am submitting the email below for analysis by your great organization. Thank you for providing a reliable and accurate fact checking website.

A Comprehensive List Of Obama’s Worst Executive Orders


There have been over 900 Executive Orders put forth from Obama, and he is not even through his first term yet. He is creating a martial law ‘Disney Land’ of control covering everything imaginable. Some of the executive orders he has signed recently have been exposed thanks to ‘Friends of Conservative Action Alerts.’ They have compiled a choice list of ‘Emergency Powers, Martial law executive orders’: Get your headache medication out while you still can without a prescription.

* Executive Order 10990 allows the Government to take over all modes of transportation and control of highways and seaports.

* Executive Order 10995 allows the government to seize and control the communication media.

* Executive Order 10997 allows the government to take over all electrical power, gas, petroleum, fuels, and minerals.

* Executive Order 11000 allows the government to mobilize civilians into work brigades under government supervision.

* Executive Order 11001 allows the government to take over all health education and welfare functions.

* Executive Order 11002 designates the Postmaster General to operate a national registration of all persons.

* Executive Order 11003 allows the government to take over all airports and aircraft, including commercial aircraft.

* Executive Order 11004 allows the Housing and Finance Authority to relocate and establish new locations for populations.

* Executive Order 11005 allows the government to take over railroads, inland waterways, and public storage facilities.

* Executive Order 11049 assigns emergency preparedness function to federal departments and agencies, consolidating 21 operative Executive Orders issues over a fifteen-year period.

* Executive Order 11051 specifies the responsibility of the Office of Emergency Planning and gives authorization to put all Executive Orders into effect in times of increased international tensions and economic or financial crisis.

* Executive Order 11310 grants authority to the Department of Justice to enforce the plans set out in Executive Orders, to institute Industrial support, to establish judicial and legislative liaison, to control all aliens, to operate penal and correctional institutions, and to advise and assist the President.

* Executive Order 11921 allows the Federal Emergency Preparedness Agency to develop plans to establish control over the mechanisms of production and distribution of energy sources, wages, salaries, credit, and the flow of money in U.S. financial institutions in any undefined national emergency. It also provides that when the president declares a state of emergency, Congress cannot review the action for six months.

A Comprehensive List Of Obama’s Worst Executive Orders

It would appear that Obama is planning for the total control and takeover of America via Martial Law. Food, energy, transportation, work, banking, and health. He has it covered.

While Obama is busy pulling executive orders out of the sky to control everything inside our country, he has been issuing executive orders to force us to submit to international regulations instead of our Constitution.


Is this email accurate in stating that Obama signed the below mentioned executive order that gives the right and power to the president to impose a government takeover in a time of relative peace?


An Executive Order You Should Know About


Dear Friend,

With all that is going in Washington these days some things don’t make the news the way they should. Fourteen days ago President Obama issued an Executive Order that you should know about.

This order gives an unprecedented level of authority to the President and the federal government to take over all the fundamental parts of our economy – in the name of national security – in times of national emergency.

This means all of our water resources, construction services and materials (steel, concrete, etc.), our civil transportation system, food and health resources, our energy supplies including oil and natural gas – even farm equipment – can be taken over by the President and his cabinet secretaries. The Government can also draft U.S. citizens into the military and force U.S. citizens to fulfill “labor requirements” for the purposes of “national defense.” There is not even any Congressional oversight, only briefings are required.

By issuing this as an Executive Order the President puts the federal government above the law, which, in a democracy, is never supposed to happen.

As President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces, he has the Constitutional authority to issue executive orders. And while similar orders have been made before by presidents from Eisenhower and Reagan to Clinton and George Bush – it has never been done to this extent.

It is still unclear why this order was signed now, and what the consequences are for our nation – especially during times of peace. This type of Martial Law imposes a government takeover on U.S. citizens that is typically reserved for national emergencies, not in a time of relative peace.

I want you to know I am following this very closely. If you would like to read the order for yourself please click:



Kay Granger

Member of Congress


We’ve received several emails that claim Obama is using his executive powers to create martial law. They’re not true.

The email claims that Obama has issued 900 executive orders but lists orders that previous presidents signed. The email also inaccurately describes those orders.

Another viral email cuts and pastes a constituent newsletter from Republican Rep. Kay Granger of Texas. She falsely claimed that an Obama executive order created martial law. Granger has since retracted her statements and removed the newsletter from her website.

It’s true that President Obama is increasingly using his executive powers in the face of staunch Republican opposition in Congress. He’s changed federal policies on immigration and welfare and appointed officials without congressional approval. But Obama’s executive actions have nothing to do with martial law.

Executive orders originated under George Washington, and their use stems from interpretations of Article II of the Constitution — which created the executive branch — and from presidential precedent.

Obama has not issued 900 executive orders. He has signed slightly fewer orders than President George W. Bush during this point in his first term, according to the University of California, Santa Barbara, which tracks executive orders. Obama has issued 139 executive orders as of Sept. 25. (The U.C. website listed 138 orders on Sept. 25, the same day Obama signed order 139). Bush issued 160 executive orders through Sept. 20, 2004, a comparable amount of time.

The viral email that claims Obama has signed 900 executive orders lists 13 orders as evidence, all of which previous presidents signed in the 1960s and 1970s.

Presidents number their executive orders consecutively. The first executive order that President Obama signed was EO-13489, which dealt with presidential records. Obama’s predecessors signed any executive order with a number lower than 13489.

The first executive order the email lists and attributes to Obama is 10990, which John F. Kennedy signed in 1962. The order reestablished a council to oversee safety of civilian federal employees. It did not — as the email claims — allow a government takeover of the nation’s seaports, highways and other modes of transportation.

Gerald Ford signed the last executive order listed, 11921, which updated how various federal departments and agencies prepare and respond to national emergencies. For example, the order tasked the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration with a plan to protect the fishing industry.

Granger, the Texas congresswoman, made false claims about an executive order that Obama actually signed in March. Writing in a constituent newsletter, Granger claimed that Obama’s “National Defense Resources Preparedness” order amounted to martial law, adding that it was “unprecedented” and “above the law” and lacked congressional oversight.

The order was none of those things — and Granger said as much in a subsequent statement. Since the Korean War, Congress has granted the president the authority to ensure that national resources — such as the food supply and various industries — will be available to meet national security needs in times of war and other emergencies. That power is granted under the Defense Production Act, a law that dates to 1950 and must be reauthorized by Congress every few years. (The act expires in 2014.)

Like presidents before him, Obama issued an order updating the resources covered under that act, which allows presidents to delegate authority to various federal departments and agencies. For example, Obama’s order authorizes the secretaries of Defense and the Interior “to encourage the exploration, development, and mining of strategic and critical materials and other materials.”

President Bill Clinton issued a similar executive order in 1994. Some people misunderstood that order as well, prompting the Congressional Research Service to write that Clinton’s order “has nothing whatever to do with declarations of martial law. It has no effect at all on continued powers of Congress or the federal courts during periods of war or other national emergencies.”

Granger removed the newsletter from her website. And she took back almost all of her claims in an April 30 newsletter “clarifying” her position.

Granger: It is incorrect to say, as I did in my March 30th letter, that this level of power is totally unprecedented … President Obama’s Executive Order appears to continue the trend of modifying previous Executive Orders on emergency preparedness and national defense resources preparedness. There are only a few changes President Obama incorporated – such as changes to the definitions of resources covered by the law – that have been included in his order.

It’s true, however, that Obama is employing his executive powers now more than ever before during his presidency.

Obama has been sidestepping Congress through his “We Can’t Wait” initiative, a series of executive actions that he claims benefit the middle class through infrastructure projects and economic policy changes.

He also skirted Senate approval in January when he appointed nominees to the National Labor Relations Board and to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The appointments were unprecedented because he made them when the Senate was technically not in recess, prompting legal challenges from conservative groups.

In June, the president halted deportations of illegal immigrants who entered the United States when they were children and met certain requirements, such as the lack of a criminal record. The change mirrored provisions of the DREAM Act — failed legislation that Obama supported and Senate Republicans blocked in 2010.

And in July, Obama changed welfare policy to allow states to modify work requirements if they test new approaches to increasing employment. Obama did not submit the policy change to Congress for review, which the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office concluded he should have done.

Obama’s use of executive power is not unprecedented compared with previous presidents, however. George W. Bush signed several controversial “signing statements” that claimed he had the power to disregard certain provisions of a law, a presidential action that historians trace back to James Monroe.

Norman J. Ornstein of the American Enterprise Institute wrote to us in an email that Obama “does not hesitate to use executive authority, but he is well within the mainstream of his modern predecessors.”

— Ben Finley


The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Rules. Hearing of the Subcommittee on Legislative and Budget Process. “The Impact of Executive Orders on the Legislative Process: Executive Lawmaking?” 27 Oct 1999.

The University of California, Santa Barbara. The American Presidency Project. Executive Orders. Accessed 24 Sep 2012.

National Archives. Federal Registrar. Executive Order FAQ.

Kennedy, John. Executive Order 10990. 2 Feb 1962.

Ford, Gerald. Executive Order 11921. 11 Jun 1976.

Obama, Barack. Executive Order 13489. 21 Jan 2009.

Obama, Barack. Executive Order 13603. 16 Mar 2012.

Else, Daniel. “Defense Production Act: Purpose and Scope.” Congressional Research Service. 14 May 2009.

Clinton, Bill. Executive Order 12919. 3 Jun 1994.

Burdette, Robert. “Executive Order 1219: Emergency Powers of the President.” 23 Oct 2000

Granger, Kay. “Weekly Enewsletter: Clarifying the Executive Order E-newsletter.” 30 Apr 2012.

Bogardus, Kevin. “Obama defies lawmakers with recess appointments to labor board.” The Hill. 4 Jan 2012.

Khimm, Suzy. “Obama’s Consumer Watchdog Gets Sued.” Washington Post. 22 Jun 2012.

Hogue, Henry. “Recess Appointments: Frequently Asked Questions.” Congressional Research Service. 9 Jan 2012.

Cohen, Tom. “Obama administration to stop deporting some young illegal immigrants.” CNN. 16 Jun 2012.

Dwyer, Devin. “Senate Republicans Block DREAM Act for Illegal Immigrants.” ABC News. 10 Dec 2010.

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Administration for Children & Families. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Information Memorandum. 12 Jul 2012.

Gibson, Lynn. U.S. Government Accountability Office. “Temporary Assistance For Needy Families: Information Memorandum Constitutes Rule for the Purposes of the Congressional Review Act.” 4 Sep 2012.