Skip to comments.The Attack On Libya Crossed A Very Bright Constitutional Line
Posted on 03/31/2011 4:28:15 PM PDT by Congressman Tom McClintock
When the President ordered the attack on Libya without Congressional authorization, he crossed a very bright Constitutional line that he himself recognized in 2007 when he told the Boston Globe The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.
The reason the American Founders reserved the question of war to Congress was that they wanted to assure that so momentous a decision could not be made by a single individual. They had watched European kings plunge their nations into bloody and debilitating wars and wanted to avoid that fate for the American Republic.
The most fatal and consequential decision a nation can make is to go to war, and the American Founders wanted that decision made by all the representatives of the people after careful deliberation. Only when Congress has made that fateful decision does it fall to the President as Commander in Chief to command our armed forces in that war.
The authors of the Constitution were explicit on this point. In Federalist 69, Alexander Hamilton drew a sharp distinction between the American Presidents authority as Commander in Chief, which he said would amount to nothing more than the supreme command and direction of the military and naval forces and that of the British king who could actually declare war.
To contend that the President has the legal authority to commit an act of war without Congressional approval requires ignoring every word the Constitutions authors said on this subject and they said quite a lot.
There seems to be a widespread misconception that under the War Powers Act, the President may order any attack on any country he wants for 60 days without Congressional approval. This is completely false. The War Powers Act is clear and unambiguous: the President may only order our armed forces into hostilities under three very specific conditions: (quoting directly from the Act): (1) a declaration of war, (2) specific statutory authorization, or (3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.
Only if one of these conditions is present can the President invoke the War Powers Act. None are present or alleged to be present, and thus the President is in direct violation of that Act.
The United Nations Participation Act requires specific congressional authorization before American forces are ordered into hostilities in United Nations actions. The North Atlantic Treaty clearly requires troops under NATO command to be deployed in accordance with their countrys constitutional provisions. The War Powers Act specifically forbids inferring from any treaty the power to order American forces into hostilities without specific congressional authorization.
The only conclusion we can make is that this was an illegal and unconstitutional act of the highest significance.
The President has implied that he didnt have time for Congressional authorization to avert a humanitarian disaster in Libya. He had plenty of time to get a resolution from the United Nations. I would remind him that just a day after the unprovoked bombing of Pearl Harbor, Franklin Roosevelt appeared in this very chamber to request and receive congressional authorization.
Some have said that the President can do whatever he wishes and that Congresss authority is limited to cutting off funds. War is not a one-sided act that can be turned on and off with Congressional funding. Once any nation commits an act of war against another, from that moment it is AT WAR -- inextricably embroiled and entangled with an aggrieved and belligerent party that has casus belli to prosecute hostilities regardless of what Congress then decides.
Finally, Ive heard it said, we did the same thing in Kosovo. If that is the case, then shame on the Congress that tolerated it. And shame on us if we allow this act to stand unchallenged any longer.
This matter strikes at the heart of the Constitution. If this act is allowed to stand, it will fundamentally change the entire character of the legislative and executive functions on the most momentous decision a nation can make and take us down a dark and bloody road the American Founders fought so hard to avoid.
OK so draw up the articles and go.
So, impeach his ass. Get this commie out of the White House.
Crossed the bright line right into dictatorship.
His is openly replacing the US Congress with the U.N. and not just with matters of was. He is attempting UN control over domestic, financial, and even governmental issues as well.
You guys better do something. He is trying to bump you guys out of the picture.
Che Obama, Caliph in Chief
Who has just let us know he knew he was hurtling us into WW3 and his quest for the caliphate. There are too many reasons why he did not want to consult congress as he was aware over a year and a half ago. Want a conspiracy?
I have to ask how many members of the Dems were knowingly parties to this conspiracy?
This treasonous, seditious bastard POS needs to be shut down. Yesterday is not soon enough!!!
Yeah, so who’s going to DO anything about it??
Well said, Congressman. Thank you!
So, bring impeachment by the House against this communists black Muslim *(&%$.
Show us ANY authorization Øbozo has for this act of war!
is the big wheel of justice creaking to life?
You can’t impeach someone who doesn’t belong in there. It is more like this: PROTECT AMERICA! DEPORT OBAMA!
Thanks for presenting this on the floor and for posting it here.
If there is a reasonable goal to be accomplished in Libya, it must be discussion and debated. Our military might must not be a toy for our president to use as he pleases.
That's the first question and we'd better have an answer.
BTW, GV stands for Grass Valley, and I am a constituent...
In the first place, Iraq and Saddam Hussein actually represented a credible threat to the security of the US.
In the second place, the bi-partisan Iraq War Resolution authorized the President to take action.
In the third place, we were already engaged with Iraq, enforcing two no-fly zones.
None of these conditions are fulfilled by the Libyan "kinetic military action".