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Constitutionality Of The War Powers Resolution Act Essay, Research Paper

The framers of our Constitution recognized the need for separate powers as well as checks and balances among the executive, legislative and judicial branches. This in turn helps to “provide for the common defense”. Separation of powers prevents one branch from becoming excessively dominant over the other ones. The preamble to the constitution states:”We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution of the United States of America.”In order to accede to the preamble and adhere in its goals, the Constitution divided certain distinct areas of power between both Congress and the President. With these powers thus divided, neither branch was intended, under the Constitution for one to dominate the other. The way in which the Constitution ensures this is by clearly stating the authority of the Congress in Article I Section 8 and the authority of the President in Article II Section 2. These fixed powers in the Constitution clearly state that one cannot act without permission or authorization of another. It is designed to that one cannot take action without consent of the other branch. This is prevalent in Article I Section 7 that states the process of how a law is passed. The fact that there are clear steps to the initiation of a law states the importance of separation of powers so that a single dominant branch does not arise.One of the biggest debates concerning the separation of powers is the attempt to determine which branch has the constitutional authority to undertake the involvement of war. This brings us to the argument of the constitutionality of the War Powers Resolution passed by congress in 1973 in effort to balance powers between congress and the president.Section 3 of the War Powers Resolution act states:”The President in every possible instance shall consult with Congress before introducing United States Armed Forces into hostilities or into situation where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, and after every such introduction shall consult regularly with the Congress until United Sates Armed Forces are no longer engaged in hostilities or have been removed from such situations.”Section 3 of the War Powers Resolution is necessary for the perpetuation of democracy and its inherent system of checks and balances. (RushKoff, 1337) (Mason, 105-106) The development of executive dominant role in war making has resulted in an attempt by congress to reassert its constitutional war-making powers. The War Powers Resolution (WPR) represents congress attempt to regain a degree of involvement in the nation decision to engage in war. Decisions that presidents had made previously with little congressional participation.Under Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution, To make all laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.Congress is granted responsibility for caring out their powers as well as all other powers in the Constitution. This gives them the constitutional right to establish certain procedural implements for war proceedings. Thus, the central purpose of the War Powers Resolution is to restrain the president from unilaterally deploying U.S. Armed Forces.Constant with this intent, legislation imposes the president to report and consult with congress. More notably, it provides congressional supervision by permitting congress to force troop withdrawal after a statutory prescribed length of time. The War Powers Resolution does not significantly constrict the executive power to introduce military engagements. Rather it establishes procedural implements for the use of war power and concurrently expresses congress intent to participate as an active partner in the war decision making process as mandated in the constitution. (Mason, 154) (RushKoff, 1331-1333)The constitutional powers of the President in Article II Section 2:”The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States “Gives him the title of Commander-in-Chief. The presidents powers of commander in chief is to introduce United States Armed Forces into hostilities, are exercised only pursuant to a declaration of war or specific statutory authorization by Congress (Article I Section 8). The President and the Congress are prevented from achieving an armed dictatorship. The presidential Executive power as Commander in Chief, is confined to when Congress declares war.

The War Powers Resolution is a legitimate in its compliance with the Constitution for a balanced government. A war making decision is a judgment of immense gravity, and it should not be considered carelessly. Therefore, political consensus should exist if there is a possibility of war engagement. If a president can not get the American public nor congress to agree in his war-making decision, subsequently he should not pursue the matter. Since congress is more closely associated with the American people, they maintain and offer insights that the president often lacks. According to the Constitution, Article I Section 8: ” provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States;” Congress is presented with the responsibility of representing the American people, hence providing for the general welfare. This is also consistent with the preamble objective of insuring “domestic tranquility” as well as encouraging the “general welfare” (RushKoff, 1338) (Mason, 135-139)There is restraining amount of precedence to the subsidy of the War Powers Resolution since the Supreme Court has not decided on many cases that decide on war powers. Nevertheless, Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. V. Sawyer (343 U.S. 579, 1952) argues that the presidents’ role, as commander-in-chief is restricted. In Youngstown Sheet & Tube Co. v. Sawyer. President Truman attempted to seize the nations steel mills for fear of nation-wide strike. Truman felt that this would be detrimental to the national defense. Congress did not authorize the seizure and provided president with an additional manner to handle this situation. Nonetheless, Truman seized the mills despite congress’s disapproval. Truman relied on authority granted by the commander-in-chief clause in the constitution. (Mason, 135-139) (Goldberg, 33-34) The Supreme Court decided that the President had no power to seize the mill in absence of congressional approval. Justice Frankfurter reasoned that the Taft-Hartley Act (stated that strikes by federal employees are outlawed) expressly denied the president the authority to monopolize war powers. In addition, Frankfurter also noted that executive practice with the acquiescence of congress is deceptive. Justice Jackson also ascertained that powers of president are at it’s maximum when implicit by congressional authority and when president acts specifically to his powers granted by the constitution. He concluded that Truman’s seizure surpassed the realm of presidential powers. Hence, the Supreme Court denied power of president to seize the steel mill during the Korean War in absence of congressional authority acknowledging the prominence of balancing powers. (RushKoff, 1342-1343) (Goldberg, 33-34) (Mason, 135-139)The Founding Fathers balance the separation of powers manifested in various forms in the Constitution. The original intent of the Founding fathers in terms of balanced separation of powers is met in the War Powers Resolution. The congressional power to declare war was meant as one of several checks on the President’s authority over the use of American military forces. The War Powers Resolution helped to restore war power balance between the president and congress. Further, it is a practical restraint on the presidential use of armed forces and an appropriate mechanism for the president and congress to share in decisions pertaining to involvement in war. The War Powers Resolution does not violate the constitution; rather it reflects the objective of sharing powers between the legislative and the executive. It helps curb abuse of power performed by any of the branches. Thus, the War Powers Resolution is in compliance with the Constitutional roles of congress and the executive branches. (RushKoff, 1344-1346) BibliographyGoldenberg, Norman S. et al. 1991. Casenote Legal Briefs Constitutional Law. Santa Monica:Casenotes Publishing Company, Inc.Mason, Thomas A. and Donald G. Stephenson, Jr. 1996. American Constitutional Law Introductory Essays and Selected Cases. New Jersey:Simon & Schuster.Rushkoff, Bennett C. 1984. A defense of the War Powers Resolution. Yale Law Journal 93:1130-1354


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