The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > General Questions

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old 01-23-2005, 03:48 PM
Kel Varnsen - Latex Division Kel Varnsen - Latex Division is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 1,106
What powers does Congress have over the military

Article !


Quote:
Clause 12: To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

Clause 13: To provide and maintain a Navy;
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #2  
Old 01-23-2005, 03:54 PM
Kel Varnsen - Latex Division Kel Varnsen - Latex Division is offline
BANNED
 
Join Date: Apr 2004
Posts: 1,106
Sorry. "Alt + s" did not make a section symbol when I was writing the above, it just posted the uncompleted message.

Article 1 Section 8:

Quote:
Clause 12: To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

Clause 13: To provide and maintain a Navy;

Clause 14: To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
What powers does this give Congress over the military? Can they make laws that the President has to follow in his role as CIC? Can they outlaw military techniques, such as outlawing the the use of bombs? Can they require the President to run all orders through a military council?
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 01-23-2005, 04:53 PM
friedo friedo is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Brooklyn
Posts: 20,601
The precise extent to which Congress has legislative authority over the military has never been entirely explored. For example, legislation enacted since the Vietnam War limits the President's ability to initiate military action for longer than 90 days without a declaration of war or a resolution supporting the action. This has never been contested because every large-scale military operation since then has had the requisite congressional approval.

While Congress cannot remove the role of the President as Commander-in-Chief, the organization of the military and the precise chain of command is set forth in legislation. The most important legislation currently is the Goldwater-Nichols Act, which removed the Joint Chiefs from the operational chain of command and unified the command of the military branches under the regional combat command system. The Joint Chiefs of Staff currently serve as the President's military advisors, but any legislation that would require their (or anyone else's) consent for a military order would be clearly unconstitutional.

Unless, of course, it was an illegal order. Who decides what orders are illegal? Why, Congress, of course. And international treaties which have been ratified by the Senate. If Congress wanted to outlaw bombs, they could refuse to appropriate money for their purchase or operation, they could alter the UCMJ to make bomb-use a crime, and so on.

So, in short, it's a really hairy question.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 01-23-2005, 04:58 PM
kniz kniz is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Funding is a very powerful control mechanism. Congress has "over-sight" committees which keep track of what the military is up to. By having hearings they can dramatically influence public opinion. They also have the power to declare war, but for many years have allowed the President a free hand is this matter. Also there is the matter of ratifying treaties.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 01-23-2005, 05:07 PM
Ravenman Ravenman is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Washington, DC
Posts: 14,358
Ditto on Friedo's post. Congress exerts its constitutional autorities in many ways not commonly known to most Americans. For example, every commissioned officer must have his appointment approved by the Senate, from the lowly 2nd Lieutenant to a five-star general. That goes for every promotion they get, too, and for most major assignments for high ranking generals (ie, a four star general may be ordered to move from being Chief of Staff of the Army to being Commander of Central Command -- even if the general maintains his four star rank, that "transfer" must be approved by the Senate.)

Congress also sets statutory maximums for how many soldiers the Army may have, how many sailors in the Navy, etc., as part of the budgetary process.

As to the bombs question, Congress has outlawed the use of certain weapons by a variety of means. The most interesting for the purposes of this discussion may be a protocol to the Hague Convention (if memory serves) that forbids the use of plastic flechettes and booby traps in the lawful conduct of war. Since that treaty was signed by a President and ratified by 2/3 of the Senate, all future commanders in chief are bound by international law (as law of the land of the United States) never to use those weapons.

One interesting note of recent development relates to the whole Iraq torture scandal. In the 2002 memo from the Justice Department that argued that the President has wide latitude to determine how the various prohibitions on torture may be applied, the Justice Department argued that the commander in chief clause in the Constitution trumps all laws and treaties that may restrict the President's ability to make orders relating to the military. It is an extremely expansive position that, carried to its logical end, would have extremely drastic consequences on the balance of power between the Legislative and Executive Branches. I can't imagine that the Administration is too eager to try that argument out before the courts, though.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 01-23-2005, 05:11 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Western New York
Posts: 58,518
Quote:
Can they outlaw military techniques, such as outlawing the use of bombs?
Sure, they could if they wanted to. For example, the United States Army cannot fly its own fixed wing aircraft (granted, this is originally based on the Key West Agreement of 1948 not a congressional act). Another example is the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. Or the military can be told they can't use biological weapons.
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 01:10 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2013 Sun-Times Media, LLC.