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Daily Beast Op-Ed: Obama’s ISIS War Is Illegal

November 10, 2014 in Politics & Elections

For a generation, Democrats stood up against Republican presidents who they deemed to be too eager to go to war-or too ready to put troops in harm’s way without the full consent of the American people through their elected representatives in Congress.

Where have those Democratic protectors of the constitutional authority of Congress gone? Was it always just a partisan attack on Republican presidents?

If not, when will Democrats-who so vociferously opposed a Republican president’s extraconstitutional war-making powers-stand up and oppose President Obama’s unconstitutional usurpation of war-making powers?

Yale Professor Bruce Ackerman puts it succinctly: ‘The war against the Islamic State is now illegal. The War Powers Resolution of 1973 gave President Obama 60 days to gain consent from Congress and required him to end ‘hostilities’ within 30 days if he failed to do so. This 90-day clock expired this week.’ And yet, there’s been no consent, and no end to the fighting.

I believe the president must come to Congress to begin a war. I also believe the War Powers Act is misunderstood; President Obama acted without true constitutional authority even before the 90 days expired, since we were not under attack at that time.

But in either case, this war is now illegal. It must be declared and made valid, or it must be ended.

Congress has a duty to act, one way or the other.

But it’s not the only area where action is needed. This is, of course, not the only way in which this president is acting like a king.

Conservatives have rightly decried President Obama’s unconstitutional executive action on Obamacare-and his promises to do the same with immigration. With both branches of Congress now under Republican control, we should act to halt those power grabs, too.

But conservatives can’t simply be angry at the president’s lawlessness when they disagree with his policies. They should end their conspicuous silence about the president’s usurpation of Congress’ sole authority to declare war-even if (especially if) they support going after ISIS, as I do.

This is important. We can’t be for the rule of law at our own convenience. It matters how we act both when we agree and when we disagree with the president.

Conservatives who blast the president for ignoring the separation of powers on immigration display a fatal inconsistency by embracing unlimited war-making powers.

Secretary of State Kerry became famous as an anti-war liberal decades …read more


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