A Litmus Test for House Members: Vote Impeachment for Presidential Wars

The United States has become a multi-trillion dollar presidential warfare state shattering our liberty-centered constitutional universe for which a steep was paid by the Founding Fathers.

Gratuitous presidential wars have spiraled the national debt past $20 trillion; spawned indiscriminate government spying on "not-yet-guilty" citizens in the name of foreign intelligence; and, subordinated civilian justice to spurious claims of military necessity, for instance, limitless presidential power to play prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner to kill any American the President decrees is an imminent danger to national security based on secret, unsubstantiated evidence forever shielded from external review.

At present, the United States is fighting presidential wars in Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, and against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) everywhere on the planet without congressional declarations of war as required by Article I, section 8, clause 11 of the Constitution.

Presidential wars are unconstitutional relics of King George III's monarchy. Alexander Hamilton elaborated in Federalist 69:

"The President is to be commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States. In this respect his authority would be nominally the same with that of the king of Great Britain, but in substance much inferior to it. It would amount to nothing more than the supreme command and direction of the military and naval forces, as first General and admiral of the Confederacy; while that of the British king extends to the DECLARING of war and to the RAISING and REGULATING of fleets and armies, all which, by the Constitution under consideration, would appertain to the legislature."

Four decades ago, a President said, "When the President does it, that means it is not illegal." That scorn for the law provoked articles of impeachment and resignation. Today, when the President echoes that scorn, Congress yawns.

To restore constitutional governance and liberty as our glory, every Member of the United States House of Representatives or House candidate should be required to sign the pledge appended below:

No Presidential Wars Pledge

Whereas war is too important to be left to a single individual or group;

Whereas James Wilson, during Pennsylvania's debates to ratify the United States Constitution, spoke for every participant in the drafting and ratification process in declaring: "This system will not hurry us into war; it is calculated to guard against it. It will not be in the power of a single man, or a single body of men, to involve us in such distress, for the important power of declaring war is vested in the legislature at large;--this declaration must be made with the concurrence of the House of Representatives; from this circumstance we may draw a certain conclusion, that nothing but our national interest can draw us into a war;"

Whereas the understanding of Mr. Wilson was enshrined in Article I, section 8, clause 11 of the Constitution, which provides that Congress shall have the power "To declare War."

Whereas during 227 years of national life, Congress has declared war on but five occasions, and only in cases of actual or perceived aggression against the United States;

Whereas presidents have commenced wars not in self-defense against scores of state or non-state actors without congressional declarations since World War II;

Whereas war impoverishes the people, endangers our soldiers, silences the law, risks blowback, awakens enemies, and diverts national genius from production to destruction;

Whereas James Madison, father of the Constitution, wrote to Thomas Jefferson: ""The constitution supposes, what the History of all Governments demonstrates, that the Executive is the branch of power most interested in war, and most prone to it. It has accordingly with studied care vested the question of war in the Legislature."

Whereas Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution provides that the "President...shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors;"

Whereas Alexander Hamilton elaborated in Federalist 65 that impeachable "offenses...proceed from the misconduct of public men, or, in other words, from the abuse or violation of some public trust. They are of a nature which may with peculiar propriety be denominated POLITICAL, as they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself."

Whereas Article I, Section 2, clause 5 of the Constitution provides that the "House of Representatives...shall have the sole Power of Impeachment;" and,

Whereas Article VI of the Constitution provides that Representatives "shall be bound by Oath or Affirmation, to support this Constitution....;"

Therefore, I pledge that as a Member of the United States House of Representatives, I will introduce and support an article of impeachment against any President who commences war against either a state or non-state actor without a declaration of war duly enacted by Congress. The impeachment article shall provide:

"In his/her conduct of the office of President of the United States, [name of President], in violation of his/her constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States, and to the best of his/her ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in disregard of his/her constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, on and subsequent to [date] commenced war against [name of state or non-state actor attacked] in derogation of the power of Congress to declare war, to make appropriations, and to raise and support armies, and by such conduct warrants impeachment and trial and removal from office."