Sunday Morning Quotation – War Powers Resolution, Section 5b

Given what the United States has been doing in Libya for the last 60 days or so, here is a relevant part of the War Powers Resolution:

SEC. 5. (b) Within sixty calendar days after a report is submitted or is required to be submitted pursuant to section 4(a)(1), whichever is earlier, the President shall terminate any use of United States Armed Forces with respect to which such report was submitted (or required to be submitted), unless the Congress (1) has declared war or has enacted a specific authorization for such use of United States Armed Forces, (2) has extended by law such sixty-day period, or (3) is physically unable to meet as a result of an armed attack upon the United States. Such sixty-day period shall be extended for not more than an additional thirty days if the President determines and certifies to the Congress in writing that unavoidable military necessity respecting the safety of United States Armed Forces requires the continued use of such armed forces in the course of bringing about a prompt removal of such forces.

I actually think the War Powers Resolution is unnecessary given that Congress already has the power to declare war and the President is not allowed to fight wars (other than in extremis to defend the US against attack) without Congressional authorization in one form or another.  Therefore, the President is already in violation of his duty to uphold the law and the Constitution.  The WPR is probably also unconstitutional (but not for reasons that conservatives give).  Despite this, I was glad to see at least a few Senators and Congressmen/women trying to do something to defend Congressional powers.  As might be expected, Rand Paul was among those standing up for the law.  Here is CNN on Paul:

But Sen. Rand Paul told CNN congress should not let any president get away with launching military action without congressional approval, and that he and his colleagues may go to the Supreme Court and ask for a ruling on whether the president is in violation of the law.

“There is a law. It’s on the books, and in plain reading of the War Powers Act, he appears to be in violation of the War Powers Act,” said Paul.

Paul said they will also attempt to push “legislative remedies” on the Senate floor, but acknowledges that may be hard to accomplish since Democrats control the schedule.

“To me it’s the most important debate we’ll ever have up here. If we’re going to send someone, your son or my son to war, its important that it be done properly, and its important that if there are constitutional restraints, we obey them,” said Paul.

And here is a great short piece by legal scholar Bruce Ackerman that lays out why Obama’s war in Libya in unconstitutional and represents another step on the road to the imperial presidency – though one could argue that we’re already there!

5 thoughts on “Sunday Morning Quotation – War Powers Resolution, Section 5b

  1. President Cleveland, thanks for the thoughtful piece. What is the reason conservatives give for the WPR being unconstitutional? And, in what way is it different from your view? Thanks, Brad

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