Document Type


Publication Date

Fall 2006

Publication Citation

81 Indiana Law Journal 1199 (2006)


For the past half century, Presidents have claimed constitutional authority to take the country from a state of peace to a state of war against another nation. That was precisely the power that the Framers denied to the President and vested exclusively in Congress. That allocation of power was understood by all three branches until President Harry Truman went to war against North Korea in 1950. He never came to Congress for authority before he acted or at any time thereafter. Similar false claims of authority have been made by Presidents since that time. These constitutional violations have been assisted by members of Congress, federal judges, academics, law reviews, and the media. These institutional failings have done great damage to the U.S. constitutional system, separation of powers, checks and balances, the principle of self-government, and public participation-the very values that the United States says that it wants to export to other countries.

Symposium: War, Terrorism and Torture: Limits on Presidential Power in the 21st Century. Convened by the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy and the Indiana University School of Law- Bloomington, prominent legal scholars, human rights advocates and government lawyers gathered in Bloomington on October 7, 2005.