King Barack I

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Many of us supported this president because he promised to bring back the constitutional balance after the theories of Yoo, Delahunty, et al put the president on a par with emperors and kings in  wartime. And yet in this Libya move, what difference is there between Bush and Obama? In some ways, Bush was more respectful of the Congress, waiting for a vote of support before launching us like an angry bird into the desert. Hillary Clinton, channeling her inner Cheney, said in a classified Congressional briefing that her administration would simply ignore the War Powers Resolution of 1973 that requires the president to seek Congressional approval within 60 days of the conflict starting. If the congress voted against continuing the war, it would be irrelevant to the administration. Beat that, King George II.

Rand Paul, meet Alexander Hamilton:

"[The Commander-in-Chief power] would amount to nothing more than the supreme command and direction of the military and naval forces, as first general and admiral of the confederacy: while that of the British king extends to the declaring of war, and to the raising and regulating of fleets and armies; all which, by the constitution under consideration, would appertain to the legislature."

Greenwald is having none of it:

The Obama administration is taking the position that not even the WPR can constrain the President, and (b) 1541(c) of that Resolution explicitly states that the war-making rights conferred by the statute apply only to a declaration of war, specific statutory authority, or "a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces." Plainly, none of those circumstances prevail here. That's why the Obama administration has to argue that it is empowered to ignore the WPR: because nothing in it permits the commencement of a war without Congressional approval in these circumstances; to the contrary, it makes clear that he has no such authority in this case (just read 1541(c) if you have any doubts about that).

The president is violating his constitutional duty to enforce the laws (to himself as well as anyone else). He has no constitutional right to simply waive the War Powers Resolution. In my view, we need a debate in the Congress on this as soon as possible.

(Painting Sir William Beechey's portrait of King George III. Wikimedia Commons.)

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