Court Rulings Affirming the War Power of Congress

     Supreme Court:  It is for Congress alone to authorize either an "imperfect" (limited) war or a "perfect" (general) war.  (Bas vs. Tingy, 4 U.S. 37, 1800.)

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     Supreme Court: "The whole powers of war, being by the constitution of the United States, vested in congress, the acts of that body can alone be resorted to as our guides in this enquiry."  (Chief Justice John Marshall, Talbot vs. Seeman, 5 U.S. 1, 28, 1801.)

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     Supreme Court:  President John Adams's instructions to seize ships are in conflict with an act of Congress and therefore illegal.  (Chief Justice John Marshall, Little vs. Barreme, 6 U.S. [2 Cr.] 169, 1804.)

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     U.S. Circuit Court:  "Does he [the president] possess the power of making war? That power is exclusively vested in congress. . . ."  (Justice William Paterson, United States vs. Smith, 27 Fed. Cases 1192, 1230, C.C. N.Y., 1806.)

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     U.S. District Court:  "Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 of the Constitution grants to the Congress the power 'to declare War.'  To the extent that this unambiguous direction requires construction or explanation, it is provided by the framers' comments that they felt it to be unwise to entrust the momentous power to involve the nation in a war to the President alone. . . .  The Court is not prepared to read out of the Constitution the clause granting to the Congress, and to it alone, the authority 'to declare war.'"  (Judge Harold H. Greene, Dellums vs. Bush, 752 F. Supp. 1144 D.D.C., 1990.)

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