Gene Healy is a vice president at the Cato Institute. His research interests include executive power and the role of the presidency, as well as federalism and overcriminalization. He is the author of False Idol: Barack Obama and the Continuing Cult of the Presidency (2012) and The Cult of the Presidency: Americas Dangerous Devotion to Executive Power (2008) and editor of Go Directly to Jail: The Criminalization of Almost Everything (2004). Healy has appeared on PBSs Newshour with Jim Lehrer and NPRs Talk of the Nation, and his work has been published in Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Legal Times, and elsewhere. Healy holds a BA from Georgetown University and a JD from the University of Chicago Law School.
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I have the authority to address the threat, Obama maintained, with or without new authorization from Congress. Where does the president suppose that authority lies?
If weve learned anything from the history of past AUMFs (an open question), its that presidents will push the authority theyre given as far as language will allowand possibly further.
We should recall James Madisons warning that No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.
In the 21st century, continual warfare is fast becoming the post-constitutional norm.