(senior specialist in separation of powers, Congressional Research Service,
Library of Congress): "President Harry Truman went to war against North
Korea in 1950 without asking Congress for authority. Since that time. presidents
regularly have used military force by relying on what they regard as independent
and self-sufficient sources of authority, especially the commander-in-chief
clause. These assertions of political power have no legal
foundation. . . .
"The framers knew all about monarchical systems that allowed one person to send the nation into war. . . . Instead of leaving the war power in the hands of an executive, the framers relied on collective decision-making through legislative deliberation. . . . The president could take actions necessary to resist sudden attacks. . . . But the president never received, as Mr. Clinton apparently believes, a general power to deploy troops whenever and wherever he thinks best. . . .
"The constitutional balance of power between Congress and the president has not been altered by the UN Charter. mutual security treaties, the threat of nuclear war or other developments of the period since World War II.
"It is hackneyed to argue that contemporary conditions make it necessary to vest in the president the decision to go to war. If the national security risk is great, so is the risk of presidential miscalculation and aggrandizement -- all the more reason for insisting military decisions be thoroughly examined and approved by Congress. Contemporary presidential judgments need more, not less scrutiny." ("Clinton's Not King --War Is for Congress," National Law Journal, June 19, 1995, pp. 21, 22. See also Fisher's Presidential War Power, 1995.)
Judge Harold H. Greene (District Court, D.C.): "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.'" (Dellums vs. Bush, 1990.)
(senator, dec.): ""Declaring war . . . is only one part of
the Congress's constitutionally assigned war power. Article 1, Section 8
also instructs Congress to provide for the common defense, to raise and support
armies and navies, make rules for the government and regulation of the armed
forces and organize and govern militia. When combined with the 'necessary
and proper' clause, Article 1, Section 8 offers overwhelming evidence that
Congress is required by the Constitution to determine whether the United States
makes war or remains at
". . . It is . . . one of the terrible ironies of American history that as war has become more destructive, less humane and less controllable, the power of decision over war has become increasingly concentrated in the hands of one American. This trend of history carries with it a portent of death for millions of human beings in the nuclear age. The American people can reverse this trend by insisting on the reinstatement of representative deliberations over the fearful decision as to war and peace." (Who Makes War? 1973, pp. 272, 273.)
Arthur M. Schlesinger,
Jr. (historian): "The Founders were determined to deny the
American President what Blackstone had assigned to the British King -- 'the sole
prerogative of making war and peace.'
"The resistance to giving a 'single man,' even if he were President of the United States, the unilateral authority to decide on war pervaded the contemporaneous literature. . . .
"There is no evidence that anyone supposed that his office as Commander in Chief endowed the President with an independent source of authority. . . . The President had no more authority than the first general of the army or the first admiral of the navy would have as professional military men. The President's power as Commander in Chief, in short, was simply the power to issue orders to the armed forces within a framework established by Congress." (The Imperial Presidency, 1973, 3, 5, 6.)
Wormuth (professor of political science, dec.) and Edwin B.
Firmage (professor of law, University of Utah): "Until 1950 [the
Korean war], no judge, no President, no legislator, no commentator ever
suggested that the President had legal authority to initiate war. The
controversialists who have introduced the novel theory supporting such authority
have been obliged to revise the war clause. . . .
"William Patterson was a delegate to the Convention from New Jersey and was subsequently an associate justice of the Supreme Court. . . . In the latter capacity he ruled . . . that 'it is the exclusive province of congress to change a state of peace into a state of war.' No delegate to the Convention and no delegate to any state ratifying convention, gave a different interpretation to the war clause. These authorities, rather than modern theorists, should determine the proper constitutional interpretation of that clause. . . .
"The office of commander in chief has never carried the power of war and peace nor was it invented by the framers of the Constitution. It was a century and a half old when the Constitution was adopted. . . . The Supreme Court has never held that the clause conferred any other powers than those of a military commander, 'the commander in chief of the army and navy of the United States, and of the militia.....'
". . . The presidency, like other autocracies and semi-autocracies, embodies a permanent danger. . . . The most fateful decisions are functions of the perceptions, the misperceptions, even the inattention of a single man. Neither the recruitment process nor the office provides any defense against the idiosyncratic weaknesses that are bound to be a part of the personality of any individual." (To Chain the Dog of War, 1986, pp. 28, 31, 105, 110.)