The Corner

Let the Fight over Libya Be Commander-in-Chief vs. the Purse

I hate it when I agree with the editorial page of the New York Times, even half-way. The Libyan conflict falls within the terms of the War Powers Resolution, and both Democrats and Republicans are flipping the constitutional positions they held under the last administration. At least this time the NYT editorial writers have the diagnosis right. But they would administer the wrong medicine.

The treatment isn’t to force everyone to obey an unconstitutional law, the War Powers Resolution, that is both untrue to the Framers’ original understanding and unsuited to the exigencies of modern war. The New York Times’s solution is the equivalent of using leeches on a patient with the common cold. The right constitutional answer (as I explain in this morning’s Wall Street Journal) is to toss the empty symbolism of the Resolution and meaningless lawsuits aside and let them fight it out using their own powers — commander-in-chief versus the purse — in the political process.

— John Yoo is a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley and author of Crisis and Command: A History of Executive Power from George Washington to George W. Bush.

John Yoo John Yoo is the Emanuel S. Heller Professor of Law at the University of California at Berkeley, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and a trustee of Pacific Legal Foundation.

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