Saturday, November 19, 2016

War Powers in the Obama Administration

Stephen Griffin

A number of leading scholars have recently published very useful overviews of the war powers issues raised during the Obama administration.  Interestingly, all three discuss the administration’s military operation against ISIS and whether it was justified by the 2001 Authorization to Use Military Force, albeit from somewhat different perspectives.  Jack Goldsmith and Curtis Bradley offer a doctrinal analysis; Mike Ramsey keeps original meaning in play as a baseline and looks closely at the administration’s OLC opinions; I provide more own take here.  My contribution is part of a symposium on war powers to be published in the Drake Law Review, my thanks to Mark Kende for inviting me.  To boil down my argument, I think the administration was justified in basing the ISIS operation on the AUMF, not only because of its broad language (and the initial connection between al-Qaeda and ISIS), but because of the uniform political support provided by each presidential election subsequent to 9/11.  I show how the steady support of presidential candidates of both parties for the effort against al-Qaeda and its associates (a support that continues today) is constitutionally relevant to concluding that the Obama administration was justified in continuing to rely on the AUMF.

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