Latest in War Powers

War Powers

Remembering Eisenhower’s Formosa AUMF

On this date in 1955, President Dwight Eisenhower signed a congressional joint resolution authorizing military force to protect Formosa, as Taiwan was then called by the U.S. government, and surrounding islands. It’s one of the most interesting force authorizations in American history: It reflected Eisenhower’s complicated ambivalence toward constitutional powers, it was open-ended, it contemplated the possible use of nuclear weapons, and it was never actually invoked.

War Powers

Remembering the Ludlow Amendment

Few people today have ever heard of the Ludlow Amendment—a radical proposal that would have required a popular referendum before Congress could declare war and which lost a critical House vote on this date in 1938. The proposal was the closest the United States ever came to formally amending the Constitution’s allocation of war powers, and it would have revised them in exactly the opposite direction in which their interpretation has evolved in practice since the amendment’s defeat.

Yemen

The Senate Acts on Yemen

Yesterday, on Dec. 13, the Senate made history. By a vote of 56-41, it adopted S.J. Res. 54, a bipartisan joint resolution that directs U.S. forces to withdraw from “hostilities” in Yemen not related to al-Qaeda within 30 days of enactment—a move that, its supporters maintain, will end U.S. support for the Saudi-led coalition currently waging a military campaign against Yemen’s Houthi rebels.

War Powers

Taking Stock of the Yemen Resolution

On Wednesday, Nov. 28, Congress took what may be its most important step to date towards openly opposing U.S. involvement in the Yemen war. By a vote of 63 to 37, the Senate elected to discharge a joint resolution directing an end to U.S. involvement in Yemen out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and on to the Senate floor. The resolution in question, S.J. Res.

Scholarship

Remembering St. Clair’s Defeat

Today is the anniversary of, by some measures, the U.S. military’s worst battlefield defeat ever. On Nov. 4, 1791, U.S. military forces, under the command of Northwest Territory Governor and U.S. General Arthur St. Clair, were routed by a confederacy of Native American tribes near the Wabash River in present-day Ohio. Although Indian Wars rarely feature much in discussions of constitutional war powers, they were among the most urgent threats facing the new republic. “St.

War Powers

NATO and War Powers: Remembering the ‘Great Debate’ of the 1950s

As President Trump goes into this week’s NATO summit complaining about burden-sharing, amid inflamed anxieties at home about presidential powers over foreign relations, it is worth remembering the “Great Debate” of the early 1950s. That dispute pitted President Harry Truman and Secretary of State Dean Acheson against congressional NATO skeptics, and it concerned whether the president could unilaterally deploy four additional U.S. Army divisions to Western Europe.

AUMF

Congress Should Oversee America’s Wars, Not Just Authorize Them

Nearly 17 years after the 9/11 attacks, a bipartisan coalition of senators has put forward legislation that promises to overhaul the legal framework for America’s worldwide campaign against terrorism. Proponents of this measure argue the existing authorization for military force—an AUMF in wonk-speak—passed back in September 2001 has become woefully outdated. The failure to modernize it, supporters say, represents a dereliction of duty by Congress.

Executive Power

OLC’s Meaningless 'National Interests' Test for the Legality of Presidential Uses of Force

The Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) published a legal opinion May 31 that explained the basis for its oral advice in April that President Trump had the authority under Article II of the Constitution to direct airstrikes against Syria.

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