Lyle Denniston, the National Constitution Center’s constitutional literacy adviser, looks at the constitutional prospects for a suit filed by an Army officer claiming President Obama exceeded his authority in ordering attacks on ISIS.


“In waging war against ISIS, President Obama is misusing limited congressional authorization for the use of military force as a blank check to conduct a war against enemies of his own choosing, without geographical or temporal boundaries.  Congress passed the 1973 War Powers Resolution in response to just such presidential overreach in the Vietnam War, and to protect against such abuses of presidential power in the future….The President has violated the War Powers Resolution…, the Take Care Clause of the Constitution…, and has exceeded his authority under the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force…, under the 2002 Iraq Authorization for the Use of Military Force…, and has exceeded his authority as commander-in-chief.”

– Excerpts from a lawsuit filed on May 4 in a federal district court in Washington, D.C., by a young U.S. Army officer, Captain Nathan Michael Smith.  Now serving as part of U.S. military operations in Iraq and Syria from a headquarters in Kuwait, the officer filed a statement under oath in court, saying that he filed his lawsuit as a matter of conscience, because he took an oath to defend the Constitution and has doubts about the legality of the operations against the Islamic State.

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