where the writers are
Forget the Debt Ceiling--The U.S. Constitution is Dying in Libya

A rose by any other name is still a rose. The Shakespearean proclamation seems intuitive, unless the subject is war and the speaker is the President. When the President declares that sending the military to a foreign country to engage an enemy through force no longer constitutes a hostile act we need to take a deep breath—perhaps read some Shakespeare or Orwell—and demand an end to the word games. It is startling to hear that sending missiles, aircraft, personnel, and ships to intervene in the affairs of a foreign country is not a hostile act. The White House’s justification for not seeking congressional approval for the U.S. involvement in Libya can only be seen as the latest attempt by a President to concentrate more power in the Executive branch than the Constitution allows.

But we should not need lawyers to tell us that what we are doing in Libya is hostile. Common sense and experienshould tell us and the President that when we are trying to kill others and destroy infrastructure—as well as risking American lives as it was reported on May 22nd that a rescue team shot six Libyan villagers outside Benghazi in their attempt to recover the crew of a crashed fighter jet—we are being hostile.

President Obama is the most recent President to show that there is no limit to the amount of power that can be wrestle away from the other branches by the President under the War Powers Resolution (WPR) which gives the President the authority to commit troops for 60 days without congressional approval. The WPR puts the decision for war into the hands of the President alone with no realistic check on his power. For instance, after 60 days has passed and Congress does not approve continued efforts, but the President wants to keep troops engaged, Congress can cut off funding. But what congressperson would vote for such a measure? It would be political suicide to cut off funding to troops. Congress could pass resolutions for the President to sign as they are now doing. But if he chooses not to what can realistically be done? Or, Congress can take the President to court, as members of Congress are now doing also. But what if the court sides with Congress? Is the court going to enforce the decision? Is Congress? This is what happens when the separation of powers is violated.

There is no way the other two branches can check the actions of the President in this scenario. It is the constitutional principle of separation of powers that the War Powers Resolution violated and the President is ignoring.

The separation of powers was at the heart of the Constitution as the founders feared a concentration of power in a single branch. Their fears have been realized.