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While experts can debate whether striking Syria is good policy, the legal reality should not be open to debate: President Donald Trump’s strikes against Syria were fully authorized by the U.S. Constitution.
Article I, Section 8, Clause 11 of the Constitution says that only Congress has the power “to declare War.” However, Article II, Section 2, Clause 1 says, “The President shall be Commander in Chief of the [Armed Forces] of the United States.” The Constitution has no wasted or meaningless words; both of these provisions must be given legal effect.
It is important to note that the article goes on to state the following:
Not every presidential use of military force constitutes “war.” Whether a specific use of military might crosses that line depends on the nature, scope, and duration of that force. Congress also has ongoing authority through its Article I powers, to raise and equip military units and to authorize funding for specific military operations, to shape a president’s use of military power over time.