Misconstrued Role of the President of the United States
Commander in Chief: Limited Window of Authority

“On the very face of the Constitution. the President is not the Commander in Chief of the Nation as a whole in the manner of a German Führer or Italian Ducé whose iron hand reaches out to everyone, whether a member of the country’s armed forces or a civilian. Rather, the President’s authority in that capacity extends only to actual members of the Army, the Navy, and the Militia in the performance of their duties in those establishments.

By Tyranny Out of Necessity: The Bastardy of Martial Law, Bookmasters Inc., Ashland, Ohio (2014), by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., page 399. Also see The Constitution limits the President Even as “Commander in Chief”


The Title of “Commander in Chief”: Limited Window of Authority

America suffers from her own peculiar form of Führertum. In this “Führer System”, everything is said—and as much as possible is made—to depend upon the personal promises, policies, performances, and even proclivities of the individual occupying “the Office of the President”. (footnote 1) Not withstanding his “Oath or Affirmation” of office and the very few powers and duties the Constitution quite explicitly delegates to him, (footnote 2) this individual is presumed to hold in his own hands essentially all  conceivable executive (and no little legislative and judicial) authority to affect political, economic, social, cultural,  and even religious matters throughout this country (and ever increasingly throughout the entire world). In keeping with das  Führerprinzip (“The Leader Principle”), Congress abjectly subordinates itself to the President as a mere rubber stamp for his administration’s program; and the judiciary almost never dares to interpose itself against the abusive exercises of his supposed “inherent executive authority”. (footnote 3)

Thus, around the Presidency has grown up a veritable cult of office, coupled with a cult of personality of the particular individual who gains control of that office, that together undergird a Führerstaat the raw destructive power of which have caused Hitler to drool with delight. Especially, because unlike Hitler’s regime after 1933, America’s Führerstaat is politically well camouflaged by the complex charades of “democracy” and “free elections”, carried to behind the facade of an ostensible “two”-party system which actually consists of but a single party with a pair of deceptive faces. Akin to Hitler’s régime Führerstaat employs massive machinery for dispensing propaganda and agitation through the sycophantic big media—the only missing element in this latter-day Reichsministerium für Volksaufklärung und Propaganda being the identifiable central figure analogous to Dr. Joseph Goebbels. Worse yet, America’s Führerstaat is now fast a-building and deploying a national para-military police-state apparatus centered around the Department of Homeland Security—the capstone of this new Reichssicherheitshauptamt already complete with a public official analogous to Heinrich Himler. (footnote 4)

  • The President’s mere status as ‘Commander in Chief’ amounts to the thinnest residue of the power enjoyed by British Kings.

    Under pre-constitutional Anglo-American imperial law, the King—not the Parliament—enjoyed the “sole prerogative of making war and peace”; acted “as the generalissimo , or the first in military command, within the kingdom”; and “exercised the sole power of raising and regulating fleets and armies”, and “the sole supreme government and command of the militia”. (footnote 1) But other than the office of “Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual service of the United States”(footnote 2) the Constitution denies the President—the executive in the American Republic analogous to the King in the British Monarchy—all of this authority, and assigns it instead to Congress:

    • “the [King’s] sole prerogative of making war and peace” became the Congressional power “[t]o declare War”; (footnote 3)
    • “the [King’s] sole power of raising and regulating fleets and armies” became he Congressional powers “[t]o raise and support Armies”, (footnote 4) “[t]o provide and maintain a Navy”, (footnote 5) and “[t]o make Rules for the the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces”; (footnote 6)
    • “the [King’s] sole supreme government *** of the militia” became the Congressional powers “[t]o provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions”‘ (footnote 7) and “[t]o provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States”. (footnote 8)

    Footnotes:

    1.) Commentaries on the Laws of England (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Robert Bell, American Edition, 4 Volumes and Appendix, 1771-1773) Volume 1 at 257, 262 (footnote omitted) (emphasis supplied).

    2.) U.S. Const. art II, § 2, cl. 1.

    3.) U.S. Const. art I, § 8, cl. 11. Thus [t]he Constitution *** invests the President, as Commander in Chief, with the power to wage war which Congress has declaredEx parte Quirin, 317 U.S. 1, 26 (1942) (emphasis supplied).

    4.) U.S. Const. art I, § 8, cl. 12.

    5.) U.S. Const. art I, § 8, cl. 13

    6.) U.S. Const. art I, § 8, cl. 14.

    7.) U.S. Const. art I, § 8, cl. 15.

    8.) U.S. Const. art I, § 8, cl. 16.

  • Congress ‘permits the President to wage war’ in the manner of a German Führer or Italian Duce´ violating the Constitution with bipartisan support.

    A particularly egregious violation of the Constitution was when the inception of the military incursion into Iraq was being debated in the International Relations Committee of the House of Representatives in 2002. Representative Ron Paul, Republican of Texas, offered an amendment in the nature of a substitute for House Joint resolution No. 114, seeking an explicit declaration of war against Iraq in the form of the declaration of war Congress employed against Japan in 1941. (footnote 1) This, not because he favored such a course of action (in fact, he strongly opposed it on constitutional and policy grounds), but in order at least to focus Congressmen’s attention on their constitutional responsibilities, and to preserve Congress’s constitutional authority against encroachment against the President.

    The Chairman of the Committee, Representative Henry Hyde, Republican of Illinois, rebuffed Representative Paul, however, asserting the Constitution’s express delegation to Congress of the power “[t]o declare War” (footnote 2) “was one of those things no longer relevant to a modern society”, and was “[i]nappropriate and anachronistic” as a prerequisite to an actual armed invasion of a sovereign foreign nation. (footnote 3) Not to be outdone, the Ranking Minority Member of the Committee, Representative Tom Lantos, Democrat of California, even dismissed Representative Paul’s amendment as “a frivolous proposal” (footnote 4)—making the rejection and the ridicule of the amendment, and the constitutional provision on which it rested, bipartisan. And this, even though no one on the Committee disagreed with Representative Edward Royce, Republican of California, that the Resolution “permits the President to wage war”. (footnote 5)

    In the event Congress as a whole agreed with Representative Hyde and Lantos, because it issued no “declar [ ation of] War”, but instead—supinely acquiescing in President George W. Bush’s claim that the “Commander In Chief” (footnote 6) some species of “inherent authority” to launch as well as conduct such an operation—adopted the Joint Resolution, whereby:

    “[t]he President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary in order to—

    (1) defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq; and

    (2) enforce all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions against Iraq. (footnote 7)

    Having been a Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, though, Representative Hyde ought to have known that, far from a hoary anachronism, the power of Congress “[t]o declare War” (Article I, Section 8, Clause 11) is one of the most important structural elements of the Constitution, and can be disregarded only at the Nation’s—and the public officials’ own peril. (footnote 8)

    Footnotes:

    1.) Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Iraq, Markup before the Committee on International Relations, House of Representatives, 107th Congress, 2d Session, on H.J. Res. 114, October 2 and October 3, 2002, Serial No. 107-116, at 122-125.

    2.) U.S. Const. art I, § 8, cl. 11.

    3.) Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Iraq, ante note 64, at 127, 128.

    4.) Id. at 129

    5.) Id.

    6.) See U.S. Const. art II, § 2, cl. 1

    7.) H.J. Resolution No. 114, 16 October 2002, Pub. L.107-243, § 3 (a), 116 Stat. 1498, 1501.

    8.) Constitutional “Homeland Security”, Volume I, The Nation in Arms, Bookmasters Inc., Ashland, Ohio (2007), page 42.by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., page 26.

The powers of the President as “Commander in Chief ” are narrowly defined, and therefore limited: to wit, “[t]he President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, and of the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual Service of the United States”.(footnote 5) The President is “Commander in Chief” of nothing else, and for no other purposes.

To fully understand the extremely limited authority inherent in the President’s status as “Commander in Chief”, one must recognize that the term “Commander in Chief” does not denote a separate expansive authority to the boundaries of which no clear linnets can be assigned, other than the will of the President himself. That the term “Commander in Chief” is followed by the phrases “of the Army and Navy of the United States, and the Militia of the several States, when called into the actual service of the United States” (footnote 6) belies any such theory.

In the Founding era, no patriot dissented from the admonition that “standing armies in time of peace are dangerous to liberty”. No less than George Washington himself, America’s first “Commander in Chief”, advised his countrymen to “avoid the necessity of those overgrown Military establishments, which under any form of Government are inauspicious to liberty, and which are to be regarded as particularly hostile to Republican Liberty”. (footnote 7)

  • Footnotes

    1.) Apparently, in light of Mr. Obama’s background, even whether or not he is constitutionally eligible for that position. See U.S. Const. art. II § I, cl. 4.

    2.) See U.S. Const. art. II, § 1, cl. 7; § 2, cls. 1 through 3; and § 3.

    3.) The last significant manifestation of judicial independence and fidelity to the Constitution in this regard being Youngstown Sheet and Tube Company v. Sawyer, 343 U.S. 579 (1952).

    4.) Thirteen Words, by Dr. Edwin Vieira, Jr., Bookmasters Inc., Ashland, Ohio (2013), page 56-58.

    5.) Article II, Section 2, Clause 1 (emphasis supplied).

    6.) U.S. Const. art. II,§ 2, cl. 1.

    7.) Farewell Address (19 September 1796), in Victor H. Paltsits, Washington’s Farewell Address: In Facsimile, with Transliterations of all the Drafts of Washington, Madison, & Hamilton, Together with their Correspondence and Other Supporting Documents; Edited, with a History of its Origin, Reception by the Nation, Rise of the Controversy Respecting its Authorship, and a Bibliography (New York, New York: The New York Public Library, 1935), at facsimile page 9.