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View Diary: War Powers Resolution is not optional (188 comments)

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  •  Ummm.... (3+ / 0-)

    I don't think the phrase "declare war" means what you think it means.  

    When many of the men who participated in the drafting of the Constitution saw their Commander in Chief send military forces into action against the Barbary pirates, did any of them claim that the President had violated the Constitution's requirement that only Congress could make war?  

    When the drafters of the Constitution considered the phrase "make and declare war" and decided to omit "make and," did they mean anything by it?  What did they think "declare war" meant?

    There's significant scholarship on what 18th century gentlemen thought "declare war" meant, and my read of the materials is that they thought it meant a rather specific and limited thing: electing to take on another nation in a war of aggression.

    Oh -- by the way, the President is not required to follow acts of Congress that violate the Constitution.  Unless and until the Supreme Court says what the law is, the other parts of the federal government are free to -- and bound to -- respect their own interpretations of what the Constitution means.

    There's perhaps some fodder here for an interesting debate, but the long history of the "declare war" clause doesn't help those who believe the President's actions in Libya are outrageously un-Constitutional.

    •  Please learn our nations history before (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TheUnknown285, Garrett, blueoasis

      presuming to teach it.

      Wiki.  It takes two minutes.

      “Jefferson sent a small force to the area to protect American ships and citizens against potential aggression, but insisted that he was 'unauthorized by the Constitution, without the sanction of Congress, to go beyond the line of defense.'” He told Congress: “I communicate [to you] all material information on this subject, that in the exercise of this important function confided by the Constitution to the Legislature exclusively their judgment may form itself on a knowledge and consideration of every circumstance of weight.”[14] Although Congress never voted on a formal declaration of war, they did authorize the President to instruct the commanders of armed American vessels to seize all vessels and goods of the Pasha of Tripoli "and also to cause to be done all such other acts of precaution or hostility as the state of war will justify."

      Emphasis mine.  That's what we'd call an AUMF today.

      He had their damned authorization.  They authorized the funds to build six "super frigates" just for this purpose.

      Mayan culture was strong enough to save the Mayan people from Mayan civilization.

      by JesseCW on Sun Jun 26, 2011 at 08:23:29 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Dead Horse (0+ / 0-)

        Just to be clear, I think your quote proves my point, as does the complete absence of Congressional speeches or pamphlets, etc. decrying  the failure to procure a declaration of war.

        The Congress went along with Tripoli, and is going along with Libya, too, frankly on much the same legal basis.  The WPA is a nice piece of writing, but until the Supreme Court says it is the law of the land, it remains one branch's take on what the Constitution allows.

    •  That's an important consideration. (0+ / 0-)

      What did the drafters of the constitution have in mind when they penned the words?

      Did they think "war" meant the mobilization of the nation's resources and people for the express purpose of conflict essentially disrupting the lives of citizens and commerce?

      And did that leave the president the right as Commander in Chief to use the active resources of the volunteer military to take part in missions to defend and/or extend the security of the nation without the express approval of Congress?

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