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Doctrine of Executive War Time Powers

To this day, the distribution of authority between the branches of government remains contested and uncertain with President George W. Bush's use of war powers to protect the national security of the United States and to enact a War on Terror, adding to the recurring debate (Bradley and Goldsmith 2005, 2048).

Drawing upon primary sources, including case law and Congressional legislation, as well as secondary commentaries, this report will move from an overview of constitutional enumeration of executive, legislative, and judiciary roles with respect to war powers to an exploration of each of these systems in different eras of United States history. The report will then explore the legislative reassertion of its constitutional war powers role and discuss the doctrinal development of the powers of the executive in times of war.

Constitutional Enumeration of Powers and Roles

Michael D. Ramsey (2002, 1543) states that when the U.S. Constitution was written, a "declaration" of war was understood to mean the initiating of military action as well as a formal declaration of war. When they met in Philadelphia in 1787, the Founders were in complete agreement that the power to declare war was to be exercised by the Congress and not the president (Collier and Collier 1986, 331). The Virginia Plan, which had been proposed at the Constitutional Convention, said nothing about wh


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