British Parliament votes to authorize air campaign against ISIS

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

The British parliament recently voted to authorize the participation of British forces in the air campaign against ISIS. Whatever else can be said about the decision, it is notable that Parliament had a serious debate over the subject, and that Prime Minister David Cameron didn't commit British forces to the fight until he got legislative authorization to do so—even though t a parliamentary vote may not actually be necessary to authorize military action under Britain's unwritten constitution.



All of this contrasts favorably with the way the American war against ISIS has been handled. Congressional authorization for the initiation of war is clearly required under our Constitution, as President Obama himself recognized back in 2007. Yet the Obama administration still has not gotten it, even many months after it entered into this conflict. It also has failed to avail itself of the possible alternative legal rationale for the war offered by Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty.

The administration's failure to get congressional authorization is not just a legal problem. It also likely reduces the chances of achieving a successful outcome to the conflict