of people, including 122,000 Americans,
Until President Truman plunged the United
States into three years of bloodshed in Korea without
authorization by Congress, nobody in government had ever
suggested that a president had the right to decide to
As though a dictator, the executive orders acts of war, invasions, bombings, and assassinations anywhere he wants—yet Congress and courts timidly avoid curbing his illicit power. Life and death are in the hands of one man with nuclear weapons at his fingertips.
No matter how many of those high crimes have been committed, they remain unlawful. The Supreme Court has said illegality does not become legal by repetition—though it ducks the issue of the war power.
Constitution says only Congress can start a war
As Hamilton wrote, the power to declare—i.e. start—war is the “exclusive province of Congress.” The commander-in-chief of the army and navy is “nothing more than . . . first General and Admiral….” And Madison wrote that the war decision “is fully and exclusively vested in the legislature…. The executive has no right … to decide the question.” Many writings prove the intention of the Constitution’s framers. (See quotations at the end.)
knew that foreign rulers were prone to start wars and
resolved that in this country no one man would have the
tyrannical power to cause war’s death, destruction, and
suffering. Before any military action could begin,
except for repelling of a sudden attack, the Senate and
the House of Representatives would have to vote to
Among highlights of 20 years, WALL:
Since the Korean war (1950-53), our presidents have initiated foreign military actions in the hundreds. To prevent such lawless acts is to avoid most potential U.S. wars, to save countless lives.
Join us. End presidential tyranny
over life and death!
War and Law League (WALL)
A nonpartisan, all-volunteer organization, upholding the Constitution and treaties of the United States in matters of war and peace. It defies any warfare begun by a president and not first declared by Congress, or that is aggressive and not strictly to defend our land from an armed attack.
War and Law League,
P.O. Box 42-7237, San Francisco, California 94142 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
What the Founders of the U.S.A. Wrote About the Constitution’s War Power
Alexander Hamilton: “… ‘The Congress shall have power to declare war’; the plain meaning of which is, that it is the peculiar and exclusive duty of Congress, when the nation is at peace, to change that state into a state of war ….” (“Lucius Crassus” 1, 1801.)
“The President is to be commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States …. It would amount to nothing more than the supreme command and direction of the military and naval forces, as first General and Admiral of the Confederacy; while that of the British king extends to the declaring of war and the raising and regulating of fleets and armies — all of which by the Constitution under consideration, would appertain to the legislature.” (The Federalist, 69, 1788.)
Thomas Jefferson: “We have already given in example one effectual check to the dog of war by transferring the power of letting him loose from the Executive to the Legislative body ….” (Letter to Madison, 1789.)
“Considering that Congress alone is constitutionally invested with the power of changing our condition from peace to war, I have thought it my duty to await their authority for using force in any degree which could be avoided.” (Message to Congress, 1805.)
James Madison: “…The power to declare war …is fully and exclusively vested in the legislature;…the executive has no right, in any case, to decide the question, whether there is or is not cause for declaring war.” (1793.)
constitution supposes, what the History of all
Governments demonstrates, that the Executive is the
branch of power most interested in war, and most prone
to it. It has accordingly with studied care vested
the question of war to the Legislature.” (Letter to
Jefferson, c. 1798.)
William Paterson framer and Supreme Court justice): “ … It is the exclusive province of congress to change a state of peace into a state of war.” (United States v. Smith, 1806.)
George Washington: “The Constitution vests the power of declaring war in Congress; therefore no offensive expedition of importance can be undertaken until after they shall have deliberated upon the subject and authorized such a measure.” (Letter to Gen. William Moultrie, 1793.)
James Wilson: (framer and ratifier): “This system will not hurry us into war; it is calculated to guard against it. It will not be in the power of a single man, or a single body of men, to involve us in such distress; for the important power of declaring war is vested in the legislature at large ….” (To the Pennsylvania ratifying convention, 1787.)