John Yoo’s Anti-Constitution Beliefs

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I have yet to read anything by law professor John Yoo that I do not strongly contest. This would not be worthy of mention except that he has occupied high and influential positions in the U.S. Department of Justice. His positions on torture, enemy combatants (Guantanamo), surveillance and presidential powers to make war, even if they have come under strong attack, had a lot of influence. Basically, if he had his way, the president would be an elected dictator who would not have to pay any attention to important parts of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

Here’s an example of Yoo’s scholarship. In a 2007 article, he argues that the president need not heed international law. As an “argument” he lists a number of cases in which he claims that presidents acted constitutionally while ignoring international law. The most recent one he lists is Clinton’s bombing campaign in the Kosovo War. He writes “… and the Kosovo War show that even if American wartime conduct may have been inconsistent with international law, or at least stretched international law, no one has plausibly argued that these presidential decisions violated the Constitution.”

I sat up straight when I read those words. Is it really true that no one, not one person of repute, has argued plausibly that Clinton’s bombing was unconstitutional? In 2 minutes, I found that this is not true. I searched google on “kosovo war unconstitutional”. The 3rd entry down was from an academic source. It was written by Thomas Campbell. Campbell was a Congressman at the time of the Kosovo War, and now he is Dean of Chapman University School of Law. As Congressman, he and 30 others tried to stop Clinton but failed. The article abstract is easily read by any layman, and his argument is as plausible as it can be and exceedingly clear:

“No inherent power of the president as commander-in-chief gives him or her the authority to declare war where there was no attack on the United States, no summons from an ally under attack, or no emergency that prevented congressional deliberation. This power rests solely with Congress. Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution specifically states that only Congress has the power to declare war.”

He notes also that “On 28 April 1999, the House of Representatives voted not to approve the air war against Yugoslavia, not to declare war against Yugoslavia, and not to allow the president to send ground troops to the region without the approval of Congress.”
This had no impact on Clinton. He escalated the air war.

Campbell’s article was written in 2000. Yoo’s article is dated 2007. Yoo does not reference Campbell.

6:39 pm on September 12, 2013
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