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View Diary: Cantor (R-VA): Prez has Power to Declare War (56 comments)

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  •  On this point, I disagree (2+ / 0-)
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    marina, Crashing Vor

    Congress still has budgetary power over the military, hence, can (eventually) stop a military conflict.

    I can imagine a few stronger Congressional responses, as well, to an unjustified war.

    However, to a certain extent, the strict constitutional reading advocated above makes sense. In the event of an attack on US interests that required an immediate response, coupled with Congress being out of session or unavailable (due to a catastrophe that rendered many congresspersons dead, for example), the President should logically have the authority to respond without needed prior approval.

    The War Powers Resolution attempted to provide a framework for these scenarios. However, any reading of the constitution seems to either provide for one of two scenarios: either the use of military force requires Congressional approval, or it doesn't. The Constitution doesn't directly allow Congress to set other rules for warfare, other than to say "We're at war," or, under some interpretations, to say "We're not at war." Hence, the constitutionality of the War Powers Resolution is questioned by many.

    These middle-ground areas are another sticky point, even assuming the Constitution requires Congressional approval.

    •  Emergency responses are pre-constitutional. (2+ / 0-)
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      zeke L, Crashing Vor

      If Osama shows up at my door, carrying a bomb, of course I have the right to shoot him in the head. Any emergency response without a pre-formed formal mechanism has to be handled as best can be, and let the justifications be after the facts.

      However, any interpretation of the context that the constitution was produced under make it obvious that the intention of  a large part of the involved parties was not to create temporary dictatorships. Because that's what you have in effect if congress has the limited ability to simply to restate the fact "We're at war."

      Let see what powers congress has under Article I:

      To declare war, grant letters of marque and reprisal, and make rules concerning captures on land and water;

      To raise and support armies, but no appropriation of money to that use shall be for a longer term than two years;

      To provide and maintain a navy;

      To make rules for the government and regulation of the land and naval forces;

      To provide for calling forth the militia to execute the laws of the union, suppress insurrections and repel invasions;

      To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the militia, and for governing such part of them as may be employed in the service of the United States, reserving to the states respectively, the appointment of the officers, and the authority of training the militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

      Seems pretty clear to me. If regulation doesn't include who soldier are allowed to kill, if "calling forth the militia ot execute the laws of the union" doesn't include controlling the rules of warfare, the general targets, the beginning and ending of war, we're just living in a lawyer-ly parallel universe, where everything is just a "term of art," with no substance except in the esotoric jargon of laywer-ese. Somehow, I doubt that's what the colonies voted for.

    •  And let me expand... (2+ / 0-)
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      phriendlyjaime, Crashing Vor

      On the other hand, the powers of the president are, according to article II:

      Section 2. The President shall be commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the militia of the several states, when called into the actual service of the United States

      He's commander-in-chief, or in other words, top general. That's it. Six to one, with congresses six forming about a hundred words, compared to the Presidents 30, with half of those limiting his powers, not expanding them.

      Comparing the list of powers, its clear that the bulk of war-making powers lies with Congress. Congress legislates, the president executes. They give him orders, he implements them. And you can't argue that expansive war-waging ability is executing a legislated policy; that's creating policy.

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