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A View from the Altar / Not a lawyer, don’t play one on TeeVee
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Not a lawyer, don’t play one on TeeVee

You may have heard some “conservatives” on the radio saying that the War Powers Act of 1973 basically says nothing more than that the president has to report to Congress if he starts a war.

Actually, that’s mistaken.  Here’s a link to the text where you can see for yourself.  No, I’m no lawyer, don’t know beans about the nuances of federal law, and all I know of the Constitution is what I can read in it for myself.  For all that, though, the War Powers Act of 1973 is really fairly clear in what it says.  The law acknowledges there may be occasions when the president has to enter into “hostilities” (the word used in the law) before Congress has time to declare war or pass a war resolution.

Accordingly, the law spells out what those circumstances might be.   It says,

The constitutional powers of the President as Commander-in-Chief to introduce United States Armed Forces into hostilities, or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, are exercised only pursuant to (1) a declaration of war, (2) specific statutory authorization, or (3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.

Now about this Libyan thing.  The president ordered “hostilities.”  There was no declaration of war.  There was no specific statutory authorization.  There was no national emergency created by an attack on the US, its territories, or its armed forces.

Ergo, the president’s “kinetic action” in Libya does not comply with the War Powers Act of 1973, and it does not comply with the constitutional requirement that Congress authorize entry of the United States into a war.

Just so you know.

And in case you were wondering whether Mr. Obama thought he needed any legal sanction to start bombing people, yes, he got the United Nations to authorize it.

And this from a supposed constitutional lawyer who is sworn to uphold our Constitution.

otherbrothersteve@gmail.com

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