Another Good Reason Mario Cuomo Never Became President
Former NY governor and perennial presidential hopeful Mario Cuomo has a confusing and muddled editorial in the LA Times yesterdayclaiming that President Bush lacked the constitutional authority to start the war in Iraq, or to continue it.
The war happened because when Bush first indicated his intention to go to war against Iraq, Congress refused to insist on enforcement of Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution. For more than 200 years, this article has spelled out that Congress — not the president — shall have “the power to declare war.” Because the Constitution cannot be amended by persistent evasion, this constitutional mandate was not erased by the actions of timid Congresses since World War II that allowed eager presidents to start wars in Vietnam and elsewhere without a “declaration” by Congress.
Nor were the feeble, post-factum congressional resolutions of support of the Iraq invasion — in 2001 and 2002 — adequate substitutes for the formal declaration of war demanded by the founding fathers.
But Congress plainly authorized the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2002.
SEC. 3. AUTHORIZATION FOR USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES.
(a) AUTHORIZATION. The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in order to
(1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and
(2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council Resolutions regarding Iraq.
This was enacted (with wide majorities in both houses of Congress) in October 2002, over five months prior to the invasion of Iraq. So what is he talking about? What exactly would have been the functional difference between what Congress did and a formal declaration of war?
Now there are lots of good reasons to oppose the Iraq War, but its unconstitutionality is not one of them. And it would behoove both sides in this debate to focus on the policy merits of the war rather than on largely irrelevant legal issues.