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Law Professor: A New High-Water Mark for Executive Power

September 9, 2013
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While many political pundits are awestruck by President Obama's call for a vote in Congress on the question of a military strike against Syria, a few—including Garrett Epps, professor in the University of Baltimore School of Law—are finding the devil is in the details.

Writing in The Atlantic, Epps analyzes Obama's request for authority to use force against the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad, and the counter moves by Congress:

"Even what seems like a step back for executive power may actually be a retreat for Congress's shared responsibility," Epps writes. "For an example, look at the language of the Senate joint resolution approved this week by the Foreign Relations Committee to authorize a military strike in Syria. Hidden among the 'whereas' boilerplate in the document—mostly discussing the villainy of Assad and the danger of chemical weapons—is this short clause: 'Whereas the President has authority under the Constitution to use force in order to defend the national security interests of the United States ...'

"Glides right past the eye, doesn't it? Good old Constitution, empowering the president to protect us all!

"The only problem is it's not true, and it represents a two-century high-water mark in claims of executive power. Having been consulted by the president, Congress is poised to respond by throwing back at him not only the current decision but sweeping new powers he didn't have before."

Read the article.