War Powers and the Constitution
This two-credit seminar will consider the respective powers of Congress and the President under the Constitution to wage war. There has been controversy surrounding this issue since the early days of the nation, and the controversy continues today. Witness, for example, the recent debates over President Obama’s authority to use military force against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). The seminar will focus in part on methodology: what materials should interpreters consult to discern the Constitution’s distribution of war authority, e.g., text, original understandings, post-Founding historical practice, consequentialist considerations, etc. It will also consider changes in understandings of war powers throughout history and explore the possible reasons for these changes. Finally, in addition to considering legal constraints on war-making, the seminar will focus on political constraints and how they interact with the legal constraints. Grades will be based on class participation, short reaction papers, and a research paper. The requirements for the research paper will be structured so that the paper can satisfy the law school’s writing requirement.
Please note that course organization and content may vary substantially from semester to semester and descriptions are not necessarily professor specific. Please contact the instructor directly if you have particular course-related questions.