War Powers Co-Author: President Obama Doesn’t Have Authority to Strike in Syria Without Congressional Approval (So, Illegal, If That Matters)

congress?White HouseFormer Republican Congressman Paul Findley is a co-author of the 1973 War Powers Resolution that formalized the division of war powers that had emerged after World War II. In an interview with Politico, Findley points to President Obama’s decision to wait for Congress to return from vacation to deliberate action in Syria as evidence the president does not have the authority to take unilateral military action in Syria.

A court ruled in a 2000 case, Campbell v. Clinton, that members of Congress did not have standing to sue over violations of the War Powers Act because they could seek a remedy legislatively. That case involved Bill Clinton’s intervention in Kosovo, which the president claimed he had the authority to launch based on his power as commander in chief. Congress never remedied this situation legislatively—they rejected both authorizations of the use of military force in the former Yugoslavia and an attempt to require Clinton to withdraw US forces from the NATO-led Kosovo operation. The War Powers Act allows the president to commit military forces for 60 days before requiring Congressional authorization—the Kosovo campaign lasted 79.

More than a decade later, President Obama returned to the well of Congressless war, deploying US forces in support of NATO’s intervention in Libya; here the president argued that Congressional authorization was not required for the first 60 days of US operations or after that because US military forces were deployed in support of a NATO action, not for an American action. Congress, again, failed to either authorize the use of force or to end it; a resolution introduced by Speaker Boehner, and passed by the Congress, gave the president an additional 14 days to explain himself. He never did.

This time, absent support from NATO or the UN that the president could use to cloak his illegal war actions, Obama has sought Congressional authorization for military action in Syria. Nevertheless, he still says he doesn’t need it. In fact, in the face of overwhelming opposition to military action among the American public, and heated opposition also in parts of the Congress, the president continues to personally lobby for war and intends to address the country tomorrow night to make the case for war in Syria.

In the meantime, John Kerry appeared to draw his own red line today, calling for Bashar Assad to surrender all his chemical weapons within a week. Syria in response said it supported a proposal by Russia that its chemical weapons stockpiled be transferred to international control. The attempt to de-escalate the situation could be rejected by the United States, but would also undercut the somewhat tenuous reasons thrown up to go to intervene in Syria.

And if the march to war in Syria really is just a distraction for the scandals engulfing the White House, I hear George Zimmerman’s in the news again.

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  • Surly Chef||

    Appears George didn't have the gun this time.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Former Republican Congressman Paul Findley is a co-author of the 1973 War Powers Resolution...

    We're going to need to get a ruling from a Democrat co-author.

  • Knarf Yenrab (prev. An0nB0t)||

    I always forget: what is it that's the health of the state?

  • Goldwin Smith||

    You mean the guy who loved urban planning and the German welfare state?

  • The Rt. Hon. Serious Man, Visc||

    A court ruled in a 2000 case, Campbell v. Clinton, that members of Congress did not have standing to sue over violations of the War Powers Act because they could seek a remedy legislatively.

    Yes, it's called impeachment. Grow some balls, GOP Congress-critters.

  • ||

    Keep dreaming. The GOP learned its lesson with the Clinton impeachment. No one wins, the media will make it incredibly hard for them, and everything gets disrupted. Now, that sounds great to me, but not to them I imagine.

  • Marshall Gill||

    At this point, Impeachment serves little purpose. Why go to all the trouble when the guy you would replace isn't that different from the guy you have?

  • ||

    Come on, Marshall, we all know that having Clown Shoes Biden as the president would be hilarious. That at least would be different.

  • The Rt. Hon. Serious Man, Visc||

    If Congress explicitly says don't do this and the president does it anyway, then I think that's quite different from getting a blowjob in the Oval Office and lying about it.

    It's basically Iran-Contra only with the added fuck you of not even bothering to make it covert.

  • Pro Libertate||

    He should go for being stupid, too.

  • IceTrey||

    The War Powers Act allows the president to commit military forces for 60 days before requiring Congressional authorization IF we are DIRECTLY attacked. Fixed that for you.

  • IceTrey||

    The key Section 1541(c) reads:

    (c) Presidential Executive Power as Commander-in-Chief; Limitation The constitutional powers of the President as Commander-in-Chief to introduce United States Armed Forces into hostilities, or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, are exercised only pursuant to (1) a declaration of war, (2) specific statutory authorization, or (3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.

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