The War Powers Act, 1973-2011
Happy 60-Day anniversary,
War Kinetic Military Action in Libya! You’re now . . . pretty much illegal, but almost all of Washington will avert their eyes and pretend you’re legal. It’s kind of like how all the big people there treat their nannies.
Bruce Ackerman and Oona Hathaway. professors of law and political science at Yale, took to the pages of the Washington Post to point out that for a president who was elected by angry lefties chanting about an illegal war, it’s pretty ironic that we’re now fighting what is, pretty much, an illegal war: “This week, the War Powers Act confronts its moment of truth. Friday will mark the 60th day since President Obama told Congress of his Libyan campaign. According to the act, that declaration started a 60-day clock: If Obama fails to obtain congressional support for his decision within this time limit, he has only one option — end American involvement within the following 30 days. Obama has not only failed but he hasn’t even tried — leaving it to Sen. Richard Lugar, the ranking Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, to call for a “specific resolution that would give [the president] authority.” Neither the president nor the Democratic congressional leadership has shown any interest. They have been sleep-walking their way to Day 60 . . . Make no mistake: Obama is breaking new ground, moving decisively beyond his predecessors . . . Since the House of Representatives is out of session this week, Congress can’t approve the operation before the Friday deadline. But under the expedited procedures specified by the act, speedy congressional approval is feasible next week. If nothing happens, history will say that the War Powers Act was condemned to a quiet death by a president who had solemnly pledged, on the campaign trail, to put an end to indiscriminate warmaking.”
Betsy Newmark notes, “The Obama administration is trying to pretend that the law shouldn’t come into effect because NATO is in charge of the operation. But that is just bogus since it is our forces that are leading the effort. When I teach the War Powers Act in my AP Government and Politics class, I always point out to the class that all presidents have complied with, but not endorsed the law. There are quite a few constitutional scholars who suspect that the law is not constitutional. Would some congressman, such as Dennis Kucinich, who opposes the action in Libya actually challenge President Obama in court using the War Powers Act? It would be a good thing to get an answer to whether or not the law was a constitutional limitation on the president’s warmaking powers.”
Yeah, you can probably strike the War Powers Act from the curriculum now.