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War Powers

The "War Powers Clause" resides within Article I, Section 8 of the United States Constitution. This clause sets forth Congress' legal right to declare war when necessary. In relation to the exercising of war powers, it is estimated that five known wars have been declared under the authority of the United States Constitution. These include: War of 1812, Spanish/American War, Mexican/American War, WWI, and WWII. The Mexican/American War, however, is often not recognized in reference to a legitimate and genuine declaration of war since it actually occurred during the time following already heated animosity amongst both sides. Therefore, the United States did not need to actually declare war, but to only acknowledge its existence to the public at hand. Still others believe it did constitute a declaration as is proved by various legal documents attached to its occurrence.

Accompanying such authority to declare war, however, many believed that such power could and would be abused if not adequately regulated. In addition, war powers, in general, seemed to be at opposite ends from each other. Congress possessed the power to declare war, maintain the military and funding for war, as well as still held responsibility over the inception of laws. The President, however, maintains authority on all other aspects, such as defense against impending attacks against the country, existing as the head of the military, the power to grant/veto bills, and equally has the authority to declare war.

Due to these growing concerns, Congress went forward to pass the "War Powers Resolution" in 1973. This resolution entailed that the Commander in Chief acquire a war declaration or resolution granting the application of force from Congress within a time period of 60 days of the inception of such animosities. This acquisition must be accompanied by a complete conveyance of pertinent facts to the Acts and procedures as well.

The War Powers Resolution, however, has not been without its own share of serious criticism. Most presidents subsequent to it have made claims as to its unconstitutionality in relation to its imposition upon the authority of the Commander in Chief of the United States. There are questions as to how it places boundaries on the president's power prior to even obtaining a war declaration from Congress as well, thus bringing even more questions as to its constitutionality.

Two additional arguments that have been posited include the need for adherence to democracy to do away with such covert policies as well as the potential for a violation of the "Separation of Powers" Clause. Congress has still maintained the "Necessary and Proper Clause" as the basis for its authority in such a case, however. This Clause specifies that Congress possesses the power to institute all laws necessary as well as to adhere to the authority set forth by the United States Constitution. This conflict of interests represents an area which may only be examined in times of war, however. Therefore, it will remain an object of contention while issues loom on the horizon.

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