Thursday, June 16, 2011

The War Powers Resolution staggers on

We are faced again with the event of Congress taking on the president on the topic of war powers, specifically in regards to our action with NATO in Libya.  The argument is embodied (as it has since 1973) in the War Powers Resolution.  I have previously posted on the subject, basically calling into question the sincerity of the purpose of the WPR, & today find support in the form of Jonathon Adler, Professor of Law at Case Western, writing in the Volokh Conspiracy web log. 
One form of the debate is a lawsuit filed against President Obama, filed by (among others) the pacifist gadfly Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio), demanding “an order to suspend military operations in Libya absent a declaration of war from Congress.”
Right.  Libya = World War II.  Not likely, & I agree with Adler:
It is extremely unlikely this lawsuit will go anywhere. I would be very surprised were it not dismissed on political questions grounds, and simply flabbergasted were a court to actually order that the U.S. military suspend operations in Libya (or anywhere else, for that matter).
The other question, more realistic, also arises from Congress:
Speaker of the House John Boehner recently called upon the Administration to seek Congressional approval of the Libya operations or explain why the War Powers Act is inapplicable.
The administration takes the view that the WPR does not apply, but Boehner is keeping up the pressure, giving the administration until Friday as a deadline.


This sets up a delicious battle over the issue.  I’ve always maintained that the WPR was an extra-constitutional grab for power by Congress, or a means for what at the time was considered a perpetually Democrat-controlled Congress to pump up a confrontation against the possibility of a Republican president.  Now, just as the Special Prosecutor fell by the wayside after Kenneth Starr hammered Democrat President Bill Clinton at the behest of a Republican-controlled Congress, so now perhaps the contentions of the WPR can be brought to a head.

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