Last week Donald Trump willfully violated the Constitution as even he once understood it, despite being warned against doing so by dozens of members of Congress.
Hours before the president ordered the U.S. military to strike three targets in Syria, 88 members of Congress sent him a letter to remind him of his legal obligations. Strikes “when no direct threat to the United States exists” and “without Congressional authorization” would violate the Constitution’s separation of powers, they declared. “We strongly urge you to consult and receive authorization from Congress before ordering additional use of U.S. military force in Syria.”
That account of the law was bipartisan: The signatories included 15 Republicans and 73 Democrats, and a similar letter sent to President Obama in 2013 was signed by 119 Republicans and 21 Democrats. Surveying all the legal rationales offered in Trump’s defense, Jack Goldsmith and Oona Hathaway conclude at Lawfare, “there is no apparent domestic or international legal authority for the strikes.” And crucially, Trump himself explicitly shared their understanding of the law.
As he put it in 2013:
The President must get Congressional approval before attacking Syria-big mistake if he does not!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 30, 2013
Here’s another example:
What will we get for bombing Syria besides more debt and a possible long term conflict? Obama needs Congressional approval.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 29, 2013
Today’s Republican-controlled Congress lacks a majority willing to punish Trump for his flagrantly illegal war-making. And that status quo alarms many. “This country now considers it perfectly normal for the president to launch a fierce assault against a foreign country 5,000 miles from our borders without any congressional involvement at all, let alone a declaration of war,” the commentator Damon Linker observed. “It’s just what presidents do, whenever they want.”
“If Congress does nothing to challenge the president’s illegal attack,” Daniel Larison warns, “they will be accepting own irrelevance in matters of war from now on.”
Yet there is a minority faction that wants to restore the Constitution.
“These offensive strikes against Syria are unconstitutional, illegal, and reckless,” said Representative Justin Amash, a Michigan Republican. “The next speaker of the House must reclaim congressional war powers as prescribed in Article I of the Constitution. Speaker Ryan has completely abdicated one of his most important responsibilities.”
Members of the Senate have spoken up too. Prior to the strikes, Senator Rand Paul contested …read more
Source:: The Atlantic – Best of