Congressional and Presidential War Powers as a Dialogue Analysis of the Syrian and Isis Conflicts
32 Pages Posted: 21 Jul 2016
Date Written: July 18, 2016
Much of the scholarship on war powers looks back on whether U.S. military interventions were authorized, examining the President’s powers under Article II of the Constitution and congressional enactments. That legal question is important, but it does not capture the interactive nature of the dynamic between Congress and the President. This article instead focuses on the process of dialogue through which Congress and the President interact in the run-up to the exercise of war powers. We examine in detail how that dialogue operates in two recent episodes: the U.S. responses to Syrian President Assad’s use of chemical weapons in 2013, and the rise of ISIS since 2014. By immersing ourselves in the specifics of how the political branches interact, we can assess whether the exercise of war powers is democratic and legitimate. We see that Congress and the President take part in substantive consultation and dialogue, and through that dialogue, Congress and the public become more informed about the interests at stake and the available options. The nation benefits from such war powers dialogue between the two political branches.
Keywords: president, executive, legislative, constitutional law, statutory interpretation, Article II, national security, separation of powers, use of force, war powers, armed conflict, Congress
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