Original Intent, Timetables, and Iraq: The Founders' Views on War Powers

By Sevi, Michael | Texas Review of Law & Politics, Fall 2008 | Go to article overview

Original Intent, Timetables, and Iraq: The Founders' Views on War Powers


Sevi, Michael, Texas Review of Law & Politics


I. I. INTRODUCTION

Sixty-three percent of Americans oppose the war in Iraq.1 Democratic President-elect Barack Obama described America's decision to go to war as "careless" and promised to remove almost all combat troops within sixteen months of taking office.2 Eight Democratic members of the House of Representatives sponsored legislation impeaching President Bush for "executing] a calculated and wide-ranging strategy to deceive the citizens and Congress of the United States ... to falsely justify the use of the United States Armed Forces against the nation of Iraq . . . ."3 In 2007, Congress passed a military appropriations bill that set a timetable for withdrawing troops, complete with a final pull-out date.4

In this political climate, debate rages over which branch of government ought to control the military. Republicans generally favor a strong Executive capable of conducting war without congressional interference.5 Democrats tend to favor a reserved Executive unable to use military force in most instances without congressional consent.6 In support of these views, each party has claimed the high ground as the true guardian of the Constitution. The left claims to be protecting the Constitution's separation of powers.7 The Right claims fidelity to the I. INTRODUCTION

Sixty-three percent of Americans oppose the war in Iraq.1 Democratic President-elect Barack Obama described America's decision to go to war as "careless" and promised to remove almost all combat troops within sixteen months of taking office.2 Eight Democratic members of the House of Representatives sponsored legislation impeaching President Bush for "executing] a calculated and wide-ranging strategy to deceive the citizens and Congress of the United States ... to falsely justify the use of the United States Armed Forces against the nation of Iraq . . . ."3 In 2007, Congress passed a military appropriations bill that set a timetable for withdrawing troops, complete with a final pull-out date.4

In this political climate, debate rages over which branch of government ought to control the military. Republicans generally favor a strong Executive capable of conducting war without congressional interference.5 Democrats tend to favor a reserved Executive unable to use military force in most instances without congressional consent.6 In support of these views, each party has claimed the high ground as the true guardian of the Constitution. The left claims to be protecting the Constitution's separation of powers.7 The Right claims fidelity to the1 INTRODUCTION

Sixty-three percent of Americans oppose the war in Iraq.1 Democratic President-elect Barack Obama described America's decision to go to war as "careless" and promised to remove almost all combat troops within sixteen months of taking office.2 Eight Democratic members of the House of Representatives sponsored legislation impeaching President Bush for "executing] a calculated and wide-ranging strategy to deceive the citizens and Congress of the United States ... to falsely justify the use of the United States Armed Forces against the nation of Iraq . . . ."3 In 2007, Congress passed a military appropriations bill that set a timetable for withdrawing troops, complete with a final pull-out date.4

In this political climate, debate rages over which branch of government ought to control the military. Republicans generally favor a strong Executive capable of conducting war without congressional interference.5 Democrats tend to favor a reserved Executive unable to use military force in most instances without congressional consent.6 In support of these views, each party has claimed the high ground as the true guardian of the Constitution. The left claims to be protecting the Constitution's separation of powers.7 The Right claims fidelity to the Constitution's understanding of the President as commander in chief.8

But which side has the better constitutional arguments? What did the Founding Fathers intend each branch to do in the context of war? …

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