Bench Memos

National Security & Defense

Trump’s First Unconstitutional War

After a too-long unexcused absence, I hope to return to intermittent blogging for Bench Memos.  I cannot maintain the pace or intensity of Ed Whelan, the greatest legal blogger of all time.  But I will join the fracas every now and then on issues of special concern. 

Starting today: On the National Review home page today is a short article of mine entitled Trump’s First Unconstitutional War.    

The title sums up the main point: The military strikes against the Assad regime in Syria might have been morally justified. They might have been strategically and tactically sound. But they were plainly unconstitutional.  Moreover, it is dangerous to allow presidents to initiate wars on their own, in seemingly plain violation of the Constitution.  Especially this president.   An excerpt:

This act of war might be one that some are inclined to cheer. But if the principle is conceded, or the precedent set, that Trump (or any president, for that matter) can take our country to war with another — on his own, without congressional authorization, in violation of the Constitution — then there will be nothing to stop him from initiating any further wars he wants, against any foes he wants, at any time he chooses, based on his own good judgment (or lack thereof). And that should frighten Americans of all political persuasions.

Michael Stokes Paulsen — Mr. Paulsen is a professor of law and distinguished university chairman at the University of St. Thomas, in Minneapolis.

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