Tom Woods Smacks Down Mark Levin on War Powers

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Professor Thomas
E. Woods, Jr. has taken syndicated radio talk show host Mark Levin
(picture inset) to task for claiming the President can constitutionally
bring the nation to war without the permission of Congress.

Woods argued
that Congress has the exclusive power under Article I, Section 8
of the U.S. Constitution to declare war and to make rules for the
military. Levin contended that Woods’ argument was "utter nonsense."
"He refutes nothing I said," Woods concluded in a March
28 column
on LewRockwell.com, "and then declares himself the winner."

The Internet
exchange began after Levin, a lawyer and former Justice Department
official, assailed Representative Ron Paul for his antiwar stance
on the U.S. attack on Libya on his radio
show March 25
:

I want to
repeat this for those out there who write stupid stuff and are
a little dense because they’re advancing a dogma rather than
an honest assessment of what our history is. You can see some
of these morons on television too. The language was originally
“Congress shall make war.” The framers rejected that.
And instead replaced “make” with “declare.”
The president of the United States, well, they made him the commander-in-chief.
Now why do you think they did those two things? Out of basic logic.
They knew it was a dangerous world – hell they’ve been
in a revolution. And by the way, after the revolution and establishment
of our government it wasn’t clear still that it would survive
given all the threats that we faced.

Levin went
on to claim that the President can bring the United States government
to war without the permission of Congress, adding that Congress’
power over the purse was a sufficient check to presidential war-making.
Levin argued:
“And as Hamilton pointed out, it’s the ultimate power
– the power of the purse.” Woods replied:

Here Levin
is trying to claim that the power of Congress over warmaking is
confined to the power to de-fund presidential wars. But as long
as Levin wants to quote Hamilton, let’s quote Hamilton, from
Federalist #69:

“The
President is to be commander-in-chief of the army and navy of
the United States. In this respect his authority would be nominally
the same with that of the king of Great Britain, but in substance
much inferior to it. It would amount to nothing more than the
supreme command and direction of the military and naval forces,
as first General and admiral of the Confederacy; while that of
the British king extends to the declaring of war and to the raising
and regulating of fleets and armies – all which, by the Constitution
under consideration, would appertain to the legislature.”

Hamilton
elsewhere says that the president’s war powers consist of
“the direction of war when authorized or begun.”

Well, that’s
pretty much the opposite of Levin’s view.

In response,
Levin published several tweets
and Facebook status remarks quoting Alexander Hamilton vaguely referring
to the President as the body in charge of actually waging war once
Congress declares the war, such as this quote from Federalist #74:

Alexander
Hamilton: "Energy in the executive is a leading character
in the definition of good government…. It is essential to the
protection of the community against foreign attacks."

Read
the rest of the article

March
31, 2010

Thomas R.
Eddlem [send
him mail
] is a high school history teacher in
Southeastern Massachusetts and a freelance writer who contributes
to The New American,
Examiner.com,
AntiWar.com and — of
course — LewRockwell.com.

Thomas
R. Eddlem Archives

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