Limits on executive-branch power are difficult to enforce -- other than impeaching the president, how else would one stop him from intervening in Libya contrary to the will of Congress? -- but the proposition that violations of valid federal laws are normatively acceptable is unconscionable. Secretary of State Clinton's suggestion that the Obama administration would continue its attacks on Libya in the face of congressional action to the contrary is highly disturbing, even if congressional quiescence is likely to make the point moot.
Ultimately, the most effective restriction on presidential war-making power is political. Congress still has the formal powers necessary to push back against the expansion of presidential powers. If members of Congress want to create the political conditions that would make it less likely for Libya to become a quagmire, they should, and can, act now.
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
Presidential War Power
Professor Scott Lemieux writes at The American Prospect: