It is not every day that we see a Democrat Senator criticize President Barack Obama for violating the Constitution. Frankly, we don’t see it enough from Republican Senators. So this is refreshing:
According to the National Review,
Virginia Democratic senator Tim Kaine has been the leading voice arguing that a new authorization for the use of military force is necessary for the president’s military campaign against the Islamic State, and he reiterated that message on Sunday.
“It really concerns me that the president would assert he has the ability to try to do this unilaterally when as a candidate for president he made very plain that the president cannot unilaterally start a war without Congress, he was very clear about that,” Kaine told CBS’s Bob Schieffer.
Neither the 2001 authorization that gave President Bush the green light to target those who perpetrated the September 11 attacks nor the 2002 authorization for the invasion of Iraq applies to the current conflict, he said. “We’re not supposed to start a war without Congress,” Kaine said. The president, he argued, “does not have the Article II constitutional authority to do this.”
Kaine is not opposed to a U.S. war against ISIS. In fact, he has stated that he believes such a war is warranted. He has presented a bill to authorize force in Syria and Iraq against the Islamic State, but the Senate has not voted on it yet.
I am not surprised. Any authorization of force would imply that President Obama’s previous use of force was unauthorized. That would make his actions illegal. I doubt the President or his backers wish to provide any evidence that he has been acting lawlessly by bombing Syria without Congressional approval.
There are a few Republicans who have also pointed out that the President needs Congress to go to war. In the Senate, Rand Paul, and in the House, Justin Amash, have both been vocal.
You would think the Constitutional scholar and Nobel Peace Prize winner would hesitate to violate the Constitution to make unilateral Executive war. We live in strange times.