State of the Union Address: why do we have these anyway?

The State of the Union Address is a matter of tradition, coupled with as much pomp and circumstance as our country can muster. But in a country which has always been flush with media, why does the president appear before the full, joint session of Congress to get his point across?

Simple: the Constitution says so.  The first part of Article 2, Section 3 reads as follows:

"He shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient..."

Starting with our first president, George Washington, the State of the Union has been delivered once per year, and with the advent of modern forms of media in the early 1900s, presidents began giving the State of the Union as a spoken address, leading us to where we are now, live blogs and all.

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Michael Tracht

Michael Tracht is a student at the New York University School of Law, and holds a B.A. from the University of Chicago. He has experience in environmental organizing and campaign finance. During college, he was a Senior Fellow for Energy and the Environment with the Roosevelt Institute Campus Network.

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