2109 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congressman Jerrold Nadler (NY-10), a veteran member of the House Judiciary Committee, former Chair of the Subcommittee on the Constitution, and who represents the area of New York attacked on September 11, 2001, released the following statement on the necessity for President Obama to obtain Congressional authorization to expand military operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL):
“The President is right that we must work together to combat ISIL. But it is vital that, in doing so, we do not violate the Constitution.
“The Constitution is clear. Aside from an attack on the United States or an imminent threat to the country, any decision to use military force can only be made by Congress – not by the President alone.
“The planned expansion of military operations against ISIL that President Obama announced earlier this week clearly constitutes acts of war within the meaning of the Constitution. The Constitution very deliberately places the decision to go to war with the American people, acting through Congress – not with the President.
“Since there is no obviously imminent threat to the United States, there is no legal justification for bypassing the Constitutionally required Congressional authorization. The possibility or likelihood of a real threat to the country is precisely among the matters that Congress must consider.
“Merely consulting Congress is irrelevant. The Authorization for Use of Military Force of 2001 cannot be relied upon for Congressional authority for acts of war in circumstances completely unforeseen in 2001, against an enemy that did not exist in 2001. Identification of ISIL with Al Qaeda, or with the planning of the attacks on September 11, 2001, is specious.
“President Obama has outlined his reasons for acts of war against ISIL. He must now persuade Congress to pass an Authorization for such acts. Acting without explicit authorization from Congress would be a clear violation of the Constitution.”