Law Prof. Jonathan Turley Tells Senators Proposed AUMF Would ‘Put Our Endless War on Autopilot’

by | Jun 6, 2018


George Washington University Law Professor Jonathan Turley, at a Wednesday hearing of Sen. Rand Paul’s Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency Management, presented written testimony arguing that a proposed authorization for use of military force (AUMF) sponsored by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN) (S.J.Res 59) “would literally put our endless war on autopilot.”

In his written testimony, Turley argues the proposed AUMF is the next step in Congress’ abdication of its constitutional responsibility over war after “decades of concerted effort by Congress to evade the responsibility for the most important decisions committed to it by the Framers” of the US Constitution, resulting in the US being “engaged in indefinite, undeclared war — the very menace that the Framers sought to prevent with express constitutional language requiring congressional declarations of war.”

Addressing the specifics of the proposed AUMF, Turley criticizes that, after affirming and expanding broad war powers of the 2001 and 2002 AUMFs, the proposed AUMF further allows the executive branch to unilaterally expand the list of enemies the US military can fight and the countries in which military actions may be taken, with the Congress only having the ability to after the fact attempt to stop such war expansions via supermajority votes capable of overriding presidential vetoes. In addition, notes Turley, the proposed AUMF includes no sunset date. That means, he writes, the proposed AUMF would “dispense with even the need to reauthorize these sweeping powers.”

Turley written testimony’s conclusion includes a comment that will resonate with many American parents. He writes:

I have had the honor of testifying many times in both houses of Congress. Today, however, I took two of my four children out of school to come to this hearing. My sons Aidan and Jack are sitting behind me. I felt that they should be here to watch part of this process because they could well be asked to pay the ultimate price for wars started under this sweeping authority. If called, I know that they would do their duty as did their grandfather, great grandfather, and prior generations of our family in our wars. The question is whether members of this body will do their duty as laid out in our Constitution and reject this proposed AUMF.

Read Turley’s written testimony here.


  • Adam Dick

    Adam worked from 2003 through 2013 as a legislative aide for Rep. Ron Paul. Previously, he was a member of the Wisconsin State Board of Elections, a co-manager of Ed Thompson's 2002 Wisconsin governor campaign, and a lawyer in New York and Connecticut.

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