House Speaker John A. Boehner, warned President Obama on Tuesday that unless he gets authorization from Congress for his military deployment in Libya, he will be in violation of the War Powers Resolution. If you are asking yourself, “What? Did he say Obama will be in violation?” you are not alone. It is true that the War Powers Act of 1973 states the president may not send troops into combat for more than 90 days total, without the express consent of Congress, but it also says that the president would have had to seek authorization from Congress within 60 days from the initiation of the military action. That deadline came and went and not one did anything. The message was sent loud and clear; Mr. Obama can act like a dictator and Congress is not likely to stop him. Now, many are scratching their heads wondering what Boehner intends to do when Obama ignores or sidesteps yet another idle effort at getting him to follow the Constitution. In his letter, sent Tuesday afternoon, Mr. Boehner, said Mr. Obama must provide a clear justification by Friday for committing troops to Libya. Sunday marks the 90th day since the military involvement was initiated by the president.
The fact of the matter is that President Obama would not be in violation of the law as of Sunday, he has been in violation of the law, and of the Constitution for quite some time just on this issue alone. Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution expressly requires the authorization of Congress before a president can commit the nation to war. This means that a president cannot engage the nation’s troops in military action and then a few weeks later simply notify Congress about it. There is a difference between letting someone know and asking permission. Either way, many suspect that most members of Congress for whatever reason lack what it takes to require the president to comply with the law of the land.
While some members of Congress are likely to invent some new loophole to extend the period Mr. Obama would have to even give an explanation, others are in outright support of having a president with dictator-like powers and the ability to wage war based on his individual whims. It is refreshing then, to see that there is a small group of Congressmen that have actually read the Constitution and are willing to stand up for it.
Congressmen, John Conyers, Jr (D., Mich), Dan Burton (R., Ind.),Mike Capuano (D., Mass.), Howard Coble, (R., N.C.), John Conyers, (D. Mich.), John J. Duncan (R., Tenn.), Tim Johnson (R., Ill.), Walter Jones (R., N.C.), Dennis Kucinich (D., Ohio) and Ron Paul (R. Tex.), have filed a lawsuit to protest America’s involvement in Libya, and they are represented by George Washington University law professor Jonathan Turley and a team of his students.
“We are deeply honored to represent these courageous members of Congress in their defense of important constitutional limitations on executive power,” said Professor Turley. “While there are many uncertain questions under the Constitution, this is not one of them. The Framers spoke repeatedly and forcibly of their desire to bar presidents from committing the nation to war without congressional authorization and inserted an express limitation into Article I. The last few years have vividly demonstrated the dangers that the Framers sought to avoid in dividing the war powers between the Executive and Legislative branches. Despite their sharp ideological differences, these members are bound by deep faith in the Constitution and a sense of responsibility in defending its provisions. We shall [represent] their concerns and are eager to advance their claims in the Judicial Branch in this lawsuit.”
It will be interesting to see what the outcome of this case will be and if judicial review of the War Powers Act yields an opinion consistent with what most already know, that the War Powers Act is already a ridiculous stretch of executive power. Even then, Obama still thinks he is above it.