Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Commander in Chief

I want to talk about the role of President as commander in chief. This is a Presidential role which has expanded greatly in the past half century or so, and then now under George Bush the right wing has been arguing that the President's role is nearly absolute. This interpretation of the President's role as commander in chief is odd coming from the so-called strict constructionists. First, what does the constitution actually say.
Article II, section 2

The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States;

emphasis added. The phrase "when called into the actual Service of the United States;" suggests that when we are not at war the President does not, constitutionally, have power as Commander in Chief. This suspicion is bolstered by reference to The Federalist Papers Number 69 where Hamilton writes
The President will have only the occasional command
of such part of the militia of the nation as by legislative provision may be called into the actual service of the Union.

Now I'm not a strict constructionist and I do not call for a return to constitutional interpretation that would prevent the President from taking any military action without a congressional declaration of war. But it is clear that the current trend in thinking that the President's power to act with the military is absolute, is itself absurd.

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At 2:41 PM, Anonymous John said...

Wow now there’s an interesting technicality, the president is not in absolute and complete command of the military.... but we already knew that, he has already shown us that he doesn’t have a clue as to what’s going on anywhere, maybe Guinness could give him the award for being the most oblivious person on earth.


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