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March 03, 2007

Get Your War Constitutional Law On

by Nicholas Beaudrot of Electoral Math

This past Wednesday at TPMCafe, Steve Clemons highlighted a bipartisan pow-wow of foreign policy luminaries seeking to clarify constitutional question relating to "War Powers". Considering the substantial changes in warfare and war-like activities since the writing of the US Constitution, which among other things does not assume that the country will have a standing Army during peacetime, taking a second look at exactly how much (or little) power the President ought to have to engage in hostile actions without Congressional approval seems long overdue. One can hope that as the unwinding of the Bush administration occurs over the next decade, some bright people in Washington might try to figure out a constitutional order that gives a stronger hand to peaceniks in the face of a needlessly belligerent President.

March 3, 2007 | Permalink

Comments

"some bright people in Washington might try to figure out a constitutional order that gives a stronger hand to peaceniks in the face of a needlessly belligerent President."

Exactly. Like, maybe, writing it into the Constitution that Congress shall have the power to declare war, and then seeing to it that there is no mention of any such war-making power in the article on the executive branch.

I don't know why the Framers didn't just write it that way to begin with; it would have saved so many lives, and so many trillions of dollars.

Posted by: kid bitzer | Mar 3, 2007 4:03:47 PM

Well, that's how the framers wrote it, but our political consensus isn't organized around what the framers wrote, and hasn't been since the Cold War, if not since Jefferson ordered the fleet to defend against the Barbary Pirates.

And yes, that was partly an excuse just to mention Pirates.

Posted by: Nicholas Beaudrot | Mar 3, 2007 4:22:31 PM

and yet, no matter how frequently people sell cheap knock-offs of high-end raincoats, nobody ever seems to prosecute the Burberry Pirates.

Posted by: kid bitzer | Mar 3, 2007 6:23:41 PM

Quite frankly, if some guy in his pajamas could figure out that the "wars" we're in right now aren't anything of the sort, you'd think that myriad constitutional scholars out there would have jumped into the issue by now. [/shameless-self-promotion]

Posted by: Off Colfax | Mar 4, 2007 1:27:08 AM

> some bright people in Washington

As opposed to, you know, holding a Constitutional Convention and actually asking the States to send, you know, representatives of the Citizens. Much better to have James Baker take care of the whole thing behind closed doors.

Cranky

Posted by: Cranky Observer | Mar 4, 2007 11:56:24 AM

What do you mean by "figuring out a constitutional order?" Does that mean amendments, or just some working theory floating out there for judges, legislators, and administrators to latch onto if they feel like it?

The former seems impossible and the latter seems ineffective.

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