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Since the September 11 attacks on the United States, the Bush administration has come under fire for its methods of combating terrorism. Waging war against al Qaeda has proven to be a legal quagmire, with critics claiming that the administration's response in Afghanistan and Iraq is unconstitutional. The war on terror—and, in a larger sense, the administration's decision to withdraw from the ABM Treaty and the Kyoto accords—has many wondering whether the constitutional framework for making foreign affairs decisions has been discarded by the present administration. John Yoo, formerly a lawyer in the Department of Justice, here makes the case for a completely new approach to understanding what the Constitution says about foreign affairs, particularly the powers of war and peace. Looking to American history, Yoo points out that from Truman and Korea to Clinton's intervention in Kosovo, American presidents have had to act decisively on the world stage without a declaration of war. They are able to do so, Yoo argues, because the Constitution grants the president, Congress, and the courts very different powers, requiring them to negotiate the country's foreign policy. Yoo roots his controversial analysis in a brilliant reconstruction of the original understanding of the foreign affairs power and supplements it with arguments based on constitutional text, structure, and history. Accessibly blending historical arguments with current policy debates, The Powers of War and Peace will no doubt be hotly debated. And while the questions it addresses are as old and fundamental as the Constitution itself, America's response to the September 11 attacks has renewed them with even greater force and urgency. “Can the president of the United States do whatever he likes in wartime without oversight from Congress or the courts? This year, the issue came to a head as the Bush administration struggled to maintain its aggressive approach to the detention and interrogation of suspected enemy combatants in the war on terrorism. But this was also the year that the administration’s claims about presidential supremacy received their most sustained intellectual defense [in] The Powers of War and Peace.”—Jeffrey Rosen, New York Times “Yoo’s theory promotes frank discussion of the national interest and makes it harder for politicians to parade policy conflicts as constitutional crises. Most important, Yoo’s approach offers a way to renew our political system’s democratic vigor.”—David B. Rivkin Jr. and Carlos Ramos-Mrosovsky, National Review
The United States' War on Terror lacks identifiable enemies and obvious front lines. It is fought on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan by conventional military forces, in the deserts of Yemen and mountains of Pakistan by Special Operations forces, in the detention centers of Guantánamo Bay by lawyers, and on the domestic front by intelligence agencies. The tools used in this amorphous war have raised questions concerning the nature and scope of executive power, as well as about broader constitutional issues regarding the balance of presidential and legislative war powers. Given the distinctive and potentially endless nature of the War on Terror, it is vitally important to clarify and resolve these issues. Restoring the Balance: War Powers in an Age of Terror advances a theory of war powers that provides a framework for the effective and efficient conduct of the War on Terror. It argues that the constitutional grant of the power to declare war accorded Congress should be understood as the power to give the president extraordinary domestic legislative authority in order to defend the nation. In the absence of a declaration of war, then, Congress's legislative power provides a meaningful check on the ability of the president to alter domestic laws. Restoring the Balance challenges the conventional arguments on both sides of the debate over war powers, using constitutional theory, case law, and political precedent to provide a pragmatic, policy-based theory on the question of war powers in the age of international terror. Casting the "declare war" clause in a new light, it develops an original constitutional interpretation of the appropriate balance between presidential and congressional war powers. Author Seth Weinberger advances a novel understanding of the power to declare war, arguing that the president has broad inherent constitutional powers to deploy U.S. armed forces abroad without specific authorization from Congress. However, without such authorization the president is limited when taking actions that affect the legal status of persons within the United States itself. In short, Restoring the Balance demands that Congress recognize its constitutionally endowed responsibility and take a more substantial role in protecting domestic civil liberties and the fragile balance created by the Constitution.
The framers of the Constitution chose their words carefully when they wrote of a more perfect union--not absolutely perfect, but with room for improvement. Indeed, we no longer operate under the same Constitution as that ratified in 1788, or even the one completed by the Bill of Rights in 1791--because we are no longer the same nation. In The Revolutionary Constitution, David J. Bodenhamer provides a comprehensive new look at America's basic law, integrating the latest legal scholarship with historical context to highlight how it has evolved over time. The Constitution, he notes, was the product of the first modern revolution, and revolutions are, by definition, moments when the past shifts toward an unfamiliar future, one radically different from what was foreseen only a brief time earlier. In seeking to balance power and liberty, the framers established a structure that would allow future generations to continually readjust the scale. Bodenhamer explores this dynamic through seven major constitutional themes: federalism, balance of powers, property, representation, equality, rights, and security. With each, he takes a historical approach, following their changes over time. For example, the framers wrote multiple protections for property rights into the Constitution in response to actions by state governments after the Revolution. But twentieth-century courts--and Congress--redefined property rights through measures such as zoning and the designation of historical landmarks (diminishing their commercial value) in response to the needs of a modern economy. The framers anticipated just such a future reworking of their own compromises between liberty and power. With up-to-the-minute legal expertise and a broad grasp of the social and political context, this book is a tour de force of Constitutional history and analysis.
Thirty years after the Church Committee unearthed COINTELPRO and other instances of illicit executive behavior on the domestic and international fronts, the Bush administration has elevated the flaws identified by the committee into first principles of government. Through a constellation of non-public laws and opaque, unaccountable institutions, the current administration has created a “secret presidency” run by classified presidential decisions and orders about national security. A hyperactive Office of Legal Counsel in the Department of Justice is intent on eliminating checks on presidential power and testing that power’s limits. Decisions are routinely executed at senior levels within the civilian administration without input from Congress or the federal courts, let alone our international allies. Secret NSA spying at home is the most recent of these. Harsh treatment of detainees, “extraordinary renditions,” secret foreign prisons, and the newly minted enemy combatant designation have also undermined our values. The resulting policies have harmed counterterrorism efforts and produced few tangible results. With a partisan Congress predictably reluctant to censure a politically aligned president, it is all the more important for citizens themselves to demand disclosure, oversight, and restraint of sweeping claims of executive power. This book is the first step.
We fear that the growing threat of violent attack has upset the balance between existential concepts of political power, which emphasize security, and traditional notions of constitutional limits meant to protect civil liberties. We worry that constitutional states cannot, during a time of war, terror, and extreme crisis, maintain legality and preserve civil rights and freedoms. David Williams Bates allays these concerns by revisiting the theoretical origins of the modern constitutional state, which, he argues, recognized and made room for tensions among law, war, and the social order. We traditionally associate the Enlightenment with the taming of absolutist sovereign power through the establishment of a legal state based on the rights of individuals. In his critical rereading, Bates shows instead that Enlightenment thinkers conceived of political autonomy in a systematic, theoretical way. Focusing on the nature of foundational violence, war, and existential crises, eighteenth-century thinkers understood law and constitutional order not as constraints on political power but as the logical implication of that primordial force. Returning to the origin stories that informed the beginnings of political community, Bates reclaims the idea of law, warfare, and the social order as intertwining elements subject to complex historical development. Following an analysis of seminal works by seventeenth-century natural-law theorists, Bates reviews the major canonical thinkers of constitutional theory (Locke, Montesquieu, and Rousseau) from the perspective of existential security and sovereign power. Countering Carl Schmitt's influential notion of the autonomy of the political, Bates demonstrates that Enlightenment thinkers understood the autonomous political sphere as a space of law protecting individuals according to their political status, not as mere members of a historically contingent social order.
Examining the constitutional relationship between Congress and the President in the post-September 11 world, this book focuses on the constitutional authority of Congress to serve as a check on executive decision-making. The Case for Congress offers recom

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