Turley To Testify On War Powers In Senate Today

Jonathan-Turley-e1416865770538I will be testifying today in the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee’s Subcommittee on Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency Management.  The hearing is entitled War Powers and the Effects of Unauthorized Military Engagements on Federal Spending” and will address the new proposed Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) proposed by Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Tim Kaine (D-VA).  As my testimony below discusses, the new legislation would represent an unprecedented change in the law governing war powers.  The new AUMF amounts to a statutory revision of one of the most defining elements of the United States Constitution. Putting aside the constitutionality of such a change absent a formal amendment, the proposed legislation completes a long history of this body abdicating its core responsibilities over the declaration of war. 

I will be testifying with Judge Andrew Napolitano and Christopher Anders, Deputy Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office.

The hearing is being called by Sen. Rand Paul (R. KY) who has been a champion for restoring the constitutional obligations of Congress in the declaration of wars.  The hearing will be held on Wednesday, June 6, 2018, at the Dirksen Senate Office Building SD-342.

Here is my testimony: Testimony.Turley.Senate.Judiciary.War Powers.

76 thoughts on “Turley To Testify On War Powers In Senate Today”

  1. @JT
    “I have had the honor of testifying many times in both houses of Congress. Today, however, I took two of my four children out of school to come to this hearing. My sons Aidan and Jack are sitting behind me. I felt that they should be here to watch part of this process because they could well be asked to pay the ultimate price for wars started under this sweeping authority. If called, I know that they would do their duty as did their grandfather, great grandfather, and prior generations of our family in our wars. [My emphasis] The question is whether members of this body will do their duty as laid out in our Constitution and reject this proposed AUMF.”

    After pointing out the egregious unconstitutionality of the proposed AUMF and after pointing out the horrific consequences for individuals and their families of previous undeclared US wars, JT then says that if his sons are called upon to “pay the ultimate price for wars started under this sweeping authority,” he knows they will do their duty and serve in such war(s), anyway.

    I can’t conceive of a more effective way to vitiate an argument against the perpetual waging of war by an imperious US presidency, than by such a pre-emptive capitulation to its enablers in Congress.

    In an essay entitled, “Imperialism Destroys the Constitutional Republic,” Michael Federici has called attention to what should be the obvious incompatibility of imperialism and a constitutional republic:

    “The American Constitution, to reiterate, was not made for empire but for modest republicanism. In fact, the United States were born in opposition to empire. As Robert Nisbet has noted, ‘the American Constitution was designed for a people more interested in governing itself than in helping to govern the rest of the world.’

    “To argue for American empire is to argue against the American constitutional heritage; it is to import a pedigree of thinking, politics, and government that is alien to and destructive of America’s constitutional order.

    “Empire is also contrary to American interests. Empire means conquest, and conquest means tensions, violence, and war. International conflict becomes more likely with each step toward empire.

    “It is not surprising that in the wake of late nineteenth and early twentieth century calls for global crusades for democracy, the U.S. was engaged in war for nearly seventy-five continuous years.

    “Empire breeds the war state, and the war state is ultimately incompatible with constitutional government.”

  2. I realize I am writing this after the fact, but I hope that one major point was made: Since this is such a major change in the Constitution, I would hope that this isn’t going to be passed as a simple law. It should only be considered in the context of a Constitutional Amendment. Anything less should not even be considered legal.

    As an aside: If I were entitled to vote on this proposed piece of legislation, I would vote against it. This is one (of many) really bizarre bills to ever come up for discussion within Congress. It certainly shows the continuing lack of understanding and total disdain that Sen. Corker has for the Constitution. A few years ago, he turned the Treaty power of the Senate on its head. Now he wants to revoke the war powers that Congress has. I son’r know if there’s the right to impeach members of the Senate, but Corker deserves the strongest rebuke he can get from his colleagues. The good news is that he is retiring at the end of this term.

    I say, good riddance. And get as far away from the United States as you (Corker) can.

  3. I’ve read this a couple of times and it seems Senators want to reinforce Congressional approval responsibility. Presidents have circumvented the War Powers Act by calling it something else. Why do they need this additional legislation? Things happen too fast in the 21st Century to allow the “deliberation of this august body”.

  4. Here is an interesting article on this bill: “Senator Tim Kaine has short- and long-term scams for permawar. But his short-term racket just ran into an obstacle. When Kaine proposes a new AUMF (Authorization for the Use of Military Force, a.k.a. formal renunciation of Congressional war powers), he pretends it’s a means of taking war powers back for Congress from presidents. That pretense has just become a lot harder to maintain, because Senator Jeff Merkley has announced that he will introduce a new AUMF that actually does what Kaine falsely claims his does. In fact, 50 members of Congress have just signed a letter backing actual, rather than pretend, retaking of war powers for Congress. According to Congresswoman Barbara Lee, “After 16+ years of war, the last thing we need is another blank check like #CorkerKaine.” (The reference is to the AUMF proposed by Kaine and Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee). Even the ACLU, which only just this year began opposing wars, has joined other groups in opposing Senators Kaine’s and Corker’s duplicitous efforts to bestow royal war powers on the White House.”


  5. Jimmy Trafficante talked about this so they threw him in jail for corruption. Same old same old.

    Congress is nutless because it doesnt want the responsibility. Just a bunch of overpaid crybabies for the most part. We get what we deserve of course.

    1. Kurtz, every post-war conflict of consequence has received a resolution of authorization from Congress and annual appropriations. The exceptions have been engagements which lasted less than 60 days.

  6. Please discuss how with Congress howObama tried to undermine sanctions against Iran without Congressional knowledge and then misleading and lying to Congress therein.

    Obama should be imprisoned for treason, perjury and misleading America. Total disgrace of a cowardly man never mind president

    “The Obama administration secretly sought to give Iran access to the U.S. financial system by sidestepping sanctions kept in place after the 2015 nuclear deal, despite repeatedly telling Congress and the public it had no plans to do so.”


  7. Of all the problematic things the federal government does, failure to follow this rubric is among the least consequential. There isn’t a single sustained military engagement we’ve undertaken in 70-odd years that did not have the assent of Congress.

    1. other than the war against the US Constitution by the Resist Anarchists

  8. “Every time we witness an injustice and do not act, we train our character to be passive in its presence and thereby eventually lose all ability to defend ourselves and those we love. In a modern economy it is impossible to seal oneself off from injustice.” Julian Assange

    This is what JT is doing today.

    Much is at stake. The govt. fears truthtellers and they WILL attackk them. The govt. is scared. If you think telling the truth doesn’t make a difference, try doing it. Not only will you see a frightened govt. attack, you will be a better person for having cared about others.

    1. You’ve never advocated anything just or decent.

  9. “War against a foreign country only happens when the moneyed classes think they are going to profit from it” G. Orwell.

    1. OK, someone made an inane remark which someone else falsely attributed to George Orwell. Your point is what?

    2. FishWings,

      That is a good quote by Orwell who…”wrote the words above in a book review published in August 1937 in the London journal “The New Statesman and Nation”. Another important point made in the article is this:

      “The essential job is to get people to recognise war propaganda when they see it, especially when it is disguised as peace propaganda.”


      The USG is right now, heading into to Yemen with no Congressional authorization. It was only recently revealed that we had special forces aiding Saudi Arabia there. We are about to help the Suadi govt. take over the Yemen port. “Aid groups warned that American support for a Saudi-led takeover of Yemen’s main humanitarian port “would destroy the lifeline to millions.”

      by Jake Johnson” Mint Press News

      There is nothing humanitarian about this war.

      1. You and I know it was Orwell, but as always some people just attack the messenger, if it does not mesh with their opinions. NII, please read what Smedley Butler said about war.

        1. No, we do not know that. The notion that Orwell was some sort of Smedley Butler quasi-pacifist has no reality outside your gorgonzola infested head.

          1. Wrong.

            Smedley Bunker was a Marine major general.

            So much for your education…

            1. David Benson still owes me two citations after two weeks, one from the OED. Dwight D. Eisenhower was General of the Army but never led troops in combat.

                1. David Benson still owes me two citations after two weeks, one from the OED. You dunce. For that to be something from the Gish Gallop it requires half-truths or fallacies and a lot of them. I made one factual statement. Now I am going to be forced to track down your dissertation just to see how bad it was.

                  1. I once listened to Gish do his Gallop. All that is required is to change the subject rather than admit one is wrong.
                    Which is what you did, oh poorly educated one.

                    1. David Benson still owes me two citations after two weeks, one from the OED. David, you made a call to authority, I countered. What is the problem? Still is not the Gish Gallop. Now you are making another call to authority by claiming to have seen Gish in action which makes you an authority.

                      “The Gish Gallop (also known as proof by verbosity[1]) is the fallacious debate tactic of drowning your opponent in a flood of individually-weak arguments in order to prevent rebuttal of the whole argument collection without great effort. The Gish Gallop is a belt-fed version of the on the spot fallacy, as it’s unreasonable for anyone to have a well-composed answer immediately available to every argument present in the Gallop. The Gish Gallop is named after creationist Duane Gish, who often abused it.”


                      BTW, this is how you cite articles here, not Read Weart.

            2. David Benson still owes me two citations after two weeks, one from the OED. We are talking about Smedley Butler, not Smedley Bunker.

                1. David Benson still owes me two citations after two weeks, one from the OED. I don’t drink alcohol. Let’s see. You got the drunken accusation wrong, you got the Gish Gallop wrong, you got the name of a Marine general wrong, and you owe me two citations. Do you really think you should be calling me names?

          2. Only you, could misunderstand that reference, the point being as Butler and Orwell said, war is a racket and a business. And I was writing Jill, not you alone. I asked you to read about Butler. Hoping that you would get the point.

            1. Except Orwell didn’t believe that and Butler was making a fool of himself.

              1. I understand how hard it must be for you to look down from your pedestal on us mere mortals, but do you think for one day, that you don’t have be be a jackass about it?

        2. FW – IMO Butler’s “War is a Racket” should be required high school reading. Might save some folks from becoming cannon fodder.

          1. No, we don’t have so many hours in the school day to try to teach youngsters how to critique bad (and very dated) polemical literature.

            1. Students should also read “Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media” by Noam Chomsky & Edward S. Herma

          2. Agreed Autumn. What Generals and officers say about war should be studied as much as what politicians say about war and the aftermath of war.

  10. First, it avoids the personal accountability for members to declare war and, second, it allows plausible deniability after wars go wrong.

    The statement is spot on but it has one glaring omission: It does not clearly state the true motivation for congress avoiding their Article I section 8 responsibility. They will have to campaign on their war declaration voting record.

    1. The true motivation, Olly, is that they cannot be bothered because it doesn’t matter much.

  11. Looking forward to hearing about it. I hope the story is not buried. That will certainly be the marching order. This is a very important discussion, and these people in government trying to undermine the Constitution need the light of the sun to shine on them.

  12. anyone want to make a bet on whether this hearing gets any airtime on the usual suspects cable news ( op ed) shows tonight or tomorrow morning on morning joe ?

  13. JT, are you going to read your entire written testimony into the record? Very good, but long.

  14. The one single truth of the 20th Century since 1909 up until present is the vast overwhelming majority of wars declared or undeclared have been the wars initiated by and with the progressive socialists in the oval office. i won’t even call them Democrats. The majority by huge margins of US Military deaths are and have been by wars and other actions initiated by the Progressive Socialists in the White House 100 to 1.

    The War Powers Act has put into place by the Democrats has always been ignored by the Socialist Progressives but was honored by by both Bush I Kuwait and Bush II Iraq. Any of the annual World Book and Almanacs published annually provided this information to the extent that the left cannot afford to bring the subject up without the results proving they are the War Monger Party. We may as well call the 20th Century the Century of the Great Socialist Wars as they three factions fought for supremacy.

    Go ahead and look stupid and deny the painfully obvious inlcuding their backing retaining the ‘draft.’ still in force and still operating to this very day. (sss.gov).

    Yet another of the problems inherited by the present administration among many others.

    The rule of those who wear the uniform and serve is still to this day don’t sign up to serve with a Democrat in the White House the odds are far to great if you are in the combat arms you will find an end in Flanders Field only to witness the outcome only results in one more conflict, one more war a legacy of just one more Democrat socialist progressive administration.

    Want to look really stupid?

    Prove me wrong. You can’t, cannot but no doubt will try to weasel out of the responsibility. you inherited. and still support.

    1. Wilson a “Progressive Socialist”?
      George H. W. Bush a “Progressive Socialist”?

      I could go on.
      Sorry, this essay receives an F.

      1. David Benson still owes me two citations after two weeks, one from the OED. If you cannot disprove it with some type of proof, you cannot grade it down just because you don’t agree with it. No wonder you are not emeritus. The idea is to be neutral in grading even if you do not like the material. BTW, I would grade you down for your use of short sentences and monosyllabic words. And don’t forget one sentence paragraphs.

        1. Writing style on this narrow width mobile device has to be different, oh rigidly set in the far distant past Paul.

          The low grade is for the failure to consider the undeclared wars by the USA military on the various Central Americans, oh ignorant of American 20th century history Paul.

          And no,I don’t owe you a thing. I just feel sorry for your former students to have to put up with such rigidity combined with lack of knowledge.

          1. David Benson still owes me two citations after two weeks, one from the OED. – when you get your B.A.E. with over 200 semester hours, your knowledge base is very broad.

        2. As for one sentence paragraphs:

          But though the other boarders kept coming in by ones, twos, and threes, and going to bed, yet no sign of my harpooner.

          1. David Benson still owes me two citations after two weeks, one from the OED. – so, David, was your dissertation one-sentence paragraphs? Dialogue is excepted and you, of course, did not cite your source.

            1. That is not dialogue and if you are so knowledgeable you would immediately recognize the source.

              Of course, if you were capable, you could use your search engine to find it for you, oh undereducated and undertrained obstinate one.

              1. David Benson still owes me two citations after two weeks, one from the OED. David, I think I know the source, however, I have not read Moby Dick since 1959. Still, you did not cite your source.

                1. I didn’t cite it on purpose. I expect people to use their search engine.

                  In any case a one sentence paragraph by a famous author.

                  1. David Benson still owes me two citations after two weeks, one from the OED. David, did your students expect you to figure out where they got their information from in their papers?

                    1. Actually, yes.

                      But it is completely irrelevant to the current situation on the Internet.

                    2. David Benson still owes me two citations after two weeks, one from the OED. I would have loved to write papers for you. There are little tricks to drive people like you crazy.

                    3. You couldn’t possibly hope to comprehend the mathematics so your work would receive at best a D grade, oh undereducated one.

                    4. David Benson still owes me two citations after two weeks, one from the OED. David, did you make them show their work or just the answer?

        1. bettykath – first of all it wasn’t an essay. Second, I agree about Wilson, not on Bush. Third, there is nothing to grade. For accuracy, I would give it a C-

          1. You fail to comprehend the role of Bush in the war on Central America. As do many.

            As for essay, well what do you call an opinion piece?

            1. There was no war on Central America, except in your addled head.

              1. NutzIsInsufferable. Go read the Wikipedia page on the topic.

                1. There was no war on Central America. There were insurgencies in Central America. That’s one political faction fighting another. There was no war on Central America. With a couple of minor qualifications, there has been no inter-state war in Central America since 1885. Stop lying.

                  1. Go read the Wikipedia article.
                    War does not require interstate.

                    1. Why would I read a Wikipedia article? I lived through the period and was a student of international relations at the time. You made an asinine statement and you cannot defend it.

            2. David Benson still owes me two citations after two weeks, one from the OED. An essay has a particular format. You would know that if you taught English.

                1. David Benson still owes me two citations after two weeks, one from the OED. Depends on how competently it was written.

  15. Changing our war mongering way is long overdue. I keep hearing of gulf wars 1 and 2, Vietnam war, Korea war, and that doesn’t count the dozens of countries were we have either shot bullets at people, dropped bombs on people or fired drone missiles at people. All of these actions are acts of war, we would certainly say they were if a foreign government did them to us. But please correct me if I’m wrong, the last declaration of war out of our congress was against Germany and Japan on December 11, 1941.

  16. Ask for the Zuckerberg cushion seat. I understand it has a battery pack in it. 😉

  17. Professor Turley – please remember you’ll be addressing members of Congress like Epsilon semi-moron Kamala Harris. You’re going to lose them in the second paragraph with “I am admittedly an unrepentant Madisonian scholar…”

    And that chipping noise you hear in the background is the Constitution being hacked at by all three branches of government.

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