Trump’s Syria Strike Was Constitutional

Vox features an interview today with constitutional lawyer Stephen Vladeck:

As a matter of US law, was the latest American military strike on Syria legal?

Almost certainly not. To be legal, the strike would have to authorized either by some act of Congress or by the president’s own powers under Article II of the Constitution. And neither of those conditions appear to have been met here.

I’ve seen lots of versions of this opinion, but it’s wrong. In dorm-room-bull-session terms there might be something to it, but in practical terms there isn’t. If an action is approved, either implicitly or explicitly, by the executive, the legislative, and the judicial branches, then it’s constitutional. That’s how our legal system works. Full stop.

In this case, the executive obviously approved the action. Congress has had many opportunities to rein in these kinds of strikes, and they haven’t. Ditto for the Supreme Court, which has always given the president wide latitude in matters of military force.

Until this changes, lobbing missiles at anyone we want is constitutional.

LESS DREADING, MORE DOING

This is the rubber-meets-road moment: the early days in our first fundraising drive since we took a big swing and merged with CIR to bring fearless investigative reporting to the internet, radio, video, and everywhere else that people need an antidote to lies and propaganda.

Donations have started slow, and we hope that explaining, level-headedly, why your support really is everything for our reporting will make a difference. Learn more in “Less Dreading, More Doing,” or in this 2:28 video about our merger (that literally just won an award), and please pitch in if you can right now.

payment methods

LESS DREADING, MORE DOING

This is the rubber-meets-road moment: the early days in our first fundraising drive since we took a big swing and merged with CIR to bring fearless investigative reporting to the internet, radio, video, and everywhere else that people need an antidote to lies and propaganda.

Donations have started slow, and we hope that explaining, level-headedly, why your support really is everything for our reporting will make a difference. Learn more in “Less Dreading, More Doing,” or in this 2:28 video about our merger (that literally just won an award), and please pitch in if you can right now.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate