OLC: Commander in Chief Clause Authorizes Presidentially Initiated Hostilities in Libya

Ever wonder why the President can generally instigate hostilities abroad even though the Constitution gives the Declare War power to Congress?  It’s basically because of the President’s Commander in Chief power of Article II.  Indeed, only five of our “wars” have actually been declared by Congress.  The Declare War Clause and the Commander in Chief Clause are not really “odd clauses,” I don’t think, but they’re important and misunderstood enough to justify at least a mention here, particularly since the Office of Legal Counsel just issued a legal opinion justifying the use of force in Libya on the basis of the Commander in Chief Clause.  From what I know about these clauses and the history of OLC interpretation of them, the Libya opinion is consistent with prior opinions and pretty much, so to speak, on target.  The opinion is here.

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Filed under Commander in Chief Clause, Declare War Clause, Office of Legal Counsel

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