It has come to the attention of this journal that several members of Congress believe that they should cede their authority to declare war to the Office of the President. They claim no philosophic high ground in taking this position, they merely make claims about the nature of the Executive Branch which have no legal substantiation. I charge that they do so willingly, and if not they should withdraw their remarks and explain themselves.
Peter Thomas King Representative for New York’s second congressional district has made the outrageous statement that President Obama is “abdicating his responsibility”1 on Syria and that he does not need congress to wage war. This outrageous statement is clearly incompatible with Article one2 of the US Constitution. Peter King should take a second look at the oath3 he is breaking if he continues attempting to abdicate legislative power which his constituents have given him on loan. Federalist number 694 among others makes this point even clearer:
“The President is to be commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States. In this respect his authority would be nominally the same with that of the king of Great Britain, but in substance much inferior to it. It would amount to nothing more than the supreme command and direction of the military and naval forces, as first General and admiral of the Confederacy; while that of the British king extends to the declaring of war and to the raising and regulating of fleets and armies — all which, by the Constitution under consideration, would appertain to the legislature.”
As we have said in this journal in the past, the legislature of this country, or any other branch of government for that matter, has neither the authority, nor any legitimate reason to cede power to any of the other co-equal branches of government. To attempt to do so would surrender the legitimacy of the government, violate the constitution and break their oath of office.
This journal will always be ready and willing to continue to explain basic American law and the meaning of the oath of office to those unwilling to honor their office.
1. Peter King on Syria
2. Article 1 of US Constitution
3. U.S.C. Title 5 Oath
4. Federalist No. 69
Today, Speaker of the House John Boehner’s Press Office released the following statement:
WASHINGTON, DC – House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) today issued the following joint statement.
“Under the Constitution, the responsibility to declare war lies with Congress. We are glad the president is seeking authorization for any military action in Syria in response to serious, substantive questions being raised. In consultation with the president, we expect the House to consider a measure the week of September 9th. This provides the president time to make his case to Congress and the American people.”1
I am glad to see that the house leadership, for the moment, is not ceding their constitutional authority to the Executive branch. It is an important point to make, which this journal has made before2
, that under Article One of the U.S. Constitution the responsibility to declare war lies with Congress.
An equally important point to make on this matter is, should the issue arise, the U.S. Congress does not have the authority, nor should it have, to cede any of its duties to either of the other co-equal branches of government.
I would also remind members of Congress that the American people are not behind this proposed war. Beyond the obvious points made about death and destruction, the United States is in no immediate danger. The country does not benefit in any way from attacking Syria, whether it be with missiles, airstrikes, or “boots on the ground”. We have municipal bankruptcies34
crumbling infrastructure and millions of jobless.
Missiles cost millions of dollars and we have already met our debt ceiling. According to NBC news from $607,000 to $1.4 million or more, depending on how you account for research, development, testing and support — and inflation.5
Contact your Congressional representatives and tell them NO to war in Syria or involvement in the conflict.
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