AUGUSTA – State Rep. Aaron Libby has submitted a bill that would require Maine’s governor to withhold or withdraw approval of the transfer of the Maine National Guard to federal control unless Congress declares war. The measure has broad bipartisan support and has been referred to the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee for its consideration.
“Only Congress has the constitutional authority to declare war,” said Rep. Libby (R-Waterboro). “Article 1, Section 2 of the Constitution gives the president command of the nation’s armed forces, but Article 1, Section 8 gives to Congress the power to decide when the United States goes to war. The framers feared placing too much power in the hands of one person, so they divided war powers authority.
“Unfortunately, our government has ignored this constitutional requirement ever since World War II, the last time Congress declared war,” he said. “It is time to return our country to the rule of law under the Constitution. The Maine Guard should not have to pay such a heavy price for politicians who ignore the bedrock law of our republic.”
Rep. Libby’s bill, LD 1305, would direct Maine’s governor to withhold transfer of the Maine Guard to federal control unless at least one of three constitutional provisions applied. The first is a military invasion of the United States; the second would involve an insurrection.
The third condition involves “a calling forth of the National Guard by the United States Congress, in a manner authorized by the United States Constitution, to execute the laws of the United States, so long as those laws were made in accordance with the powers delegated to the federal government in the Constitution.”
The legislation requires a review by Maine’s governor of every federal order that places the Maine Guard on federal duty, “including any order that is in effect on the effective date of this section,” to determine whether the order complies with the Constitution. If the governor determines that the order does not meet constitutional muster, “the governor shall take all appropriate action to prevent the Maine Guard from being placed or kept on federal active duty.”
Co-sponsors include four Democrats, including two senators, and five Republican representatives.