Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly


Kyle C. Walker


In the face of terrorist threats and the emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, President Obama has authorized air-strikes as part of the country's antiterrorism campaign. This article begins by discussing the unique justifications for the executive's actions as commander in chief, and identifies the difficult question of defining where Presidential and Congressional war powers begin, end, and overlap. Specifically, the article describes how the Executive has relied on the 2002 Authorization to Use Military Force in Iraq as well as the President's constitutional authority to protect American citizens and national security. In doing so, President Obama committed armed forces abroad without consultation or express approval of congress.

This article begins by analyzing the the Constitution's allocation of war powers to Congress and the President and then examines varying views on Congress' role in restricting the President's power to use military force. The article then discusses why the War Powers Resolution is problematic and offers ways to strengthen the War Powers Resolution. Specifically, this article proposes a more formal procedure to facilitate communication and meaningful dialogue between Congress and the Executive, shortening the time limitation in which Congress or the President may withdraw armed forces from conflict, and amending the War Powers Resolution to include geographic and temporal limits on all Authorizations to Use Military Force.