The Increasing Concentration of War Powers in the Executive Branch: A Legislative History of Exercised War Powers

Wolgast, Henry Kurtis
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Biden School of Public Policy & Administration, University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716, USA
Constitutional constraints on a President’s ability to lead the nation to war have been unrealized repeatedly since WWII. A legislative trend of granting broad and unchecked authority to the President to use military action has changed the nature of American entry into armed conflicts. The most frequently relied upon legislative method for granting war powers today, Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMFs), grant broad-reaching war powers to the executive branch. The 2001 and 2002 AUMFs have granted four consecutive Presidents the ability to act swiftly and divisively to combat enemies of the state across the globe without Congressional deliberation or authorization (United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, 2017, p. 2). While civil liberties groups and Constitutional scholars have widely recognized that this authority poses a threat to the balance of power and transparency of a democratic society (Bradley & Goldsmith, 2005, p. 88), constitutional originalists recognize unilateral power of the executive in military action (Ramsey, 2002, p. 21) and defense officials value security and stress the importance of retaining secrecy as to minimize the global recognition of small but dangerous terrorist groups (Cronk, 2017, p. 1). The Biden administration has called for a new AUMF to replace the outdated and unilateral authorizing language of the post-9-11 war powers that have been utilized to wage war across the globe. This call must be swiftly acted upon by Congress, as it would enact a return to Congressional oversight of presidential war powers not seen in contemporary U.S. military history.
AUMF, war powers, domestic-law authority, international affairs
Wolgast HK (2022). The Increasing Concentration of War Powers in the Executive Branch: A Legislative History of Exercised War Powers. Biden School J. Pub. Pol, 13, 28-34