Well, I managed to get my presidential war powers piece posted before a whole lot of other people decided to dust off the issue, but many of the more recent entries have something relevant that my piece lacked, namely Barack Obama’s position on presidential war powers before he became president.
In 2007, Boston Globe reporter Charlie Savage asked Obama whether a president would have the authority to bomb Iran without prior congressional authorization. Replied the then-Sen. Obama in the early stages of a presidential campaign (see question and answer #2 on the linked piece):
“The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”
In light of recent development, Politifact review the statement and gave Obama “A full flop.”
Michael Kinsley, writing for Politico, is among the latest to join the party on the amazing disappearing congressional power to declare war, but he provides a decent overview of the history and constitutional arguments.
By the way, my previous war powers piece took off from a statement by Sen. Richard Lugar demanding a full congressional declaration of war before Obama attacked Libya. Lugar happened to be on Meet The Press on Sunday, but he didn’t bring up the war declaration and I have a feeling he never will again.
But I would still like to hear some bona fide strict constructionist make the case for the magical deletion of the explicitly enumerated congressional war power from the Constitution.