War Powers Act Activities

Article excerpt

1 Furnish students with copies of Articles I and II of the U.S. Constitution. Instruct them to highlight the sections that outline the stated powers and duties assigned to Congress and the president, respectively, in the areas of war, foreign policy, and the military. As a class, create a chart that compares the powers and duties of the president with those of Congress in these three areas. After creating the chart, ask students if they think the government has powers or duties in these areas that are not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution. For example, have students consider Congress's power to implement a military draft. Explain the difference between an expressed and implied power, reviewing Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution.

2 Ask students to conduct research about declarations of war and military deployment during armed conflict. Students should determine the following:

* How many times the U.S. Congress has declared war since 1941.

* Whether troops were deployed before or after Congress declared war.

* How many times the president has used armed forces without congressional authorization since 1941.

After students have completed this research, they should select one example of presidential deployment of armed forces that took place without congressional authorization. Using the archives of a major newspaper (such as The New York Times), students should look for accounts of congressional debates to identify the issues raised by Congress.

Students should create an outline of the issues and distribute it to the class. Then, as a class, identify common issues and considerations that appear to have arisen during times of armed conflict. What conclusions might be drawn from these trends? What issues or concerns appear to have been specific to a particular conflict? What conclusions might be drawn from the conflict-specific issues?

3 Ask students to read the "War Powers Resolution of 1973" and outline its provisions and requirements. Questions for students to consider include the following:

* What are the president's duties to Congress under the resolution?

* What are the president's powers?

* Does the resolution name conditions under which the president is not required to seek congressional approval for armed combat? …