Sunday, July 29, 2007


George Bush is vigorously advancing an argument for essentially unlimited Presidential power. The basis for this assertion of power is the President's role as commander-in-chief. He is arguing, as conservatives have been arguing for some time now, that the position of commander-in-chief implies a position that must have authority that is free from any check or review from any source. That this complete independence is inherent to the position of commander-in-chief. In my opinion that is a nonsensical and unsupported interpretation of the meaning of the position of commander-in-chief, as I have argued elsewhere here and here. The appropriate role for the Congress and the commander-in-chief is that Congress will determine that the nation is at war and set the objectives of that war and what resources will be available to achieve those goals. The commander-in-chief is to determine exactly how to use those resources to achieve those goals.

It terns out that I am not alone in seeing the roles as such. This letter was sent by a number of Constitutional scholars to the leaders of Congress back in January, outlining this argument in a more detailed scholarly manner. (Thanks to Balkaninzation for the reference). To quote from the letter's final paragraph
The Constitution's drafters understood the immense national sacrifice that war entails. Moreover, they understood that during time of war presidential power tends to expand. For these reasons, the Constitution assigns Congress the power to initiate war and to fund and define the parameters of military operations.As James Madison wrote, "the constitution supposes what the History of all Gov[ernments] demonstrates, that the Ex[exutive] is the branch of power most interested in war, & the most prone to it. It has accordingly with studied care, vested the question of war in the Legisl[ative branch]."
The vastly expanded powers claimed by George Bush for the President of the United States have no basis either in good sense nor in our constitution.

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