Legislation Limiting the President's Power to Use Nuclear Weapons: Separation of Powers Implications [November 3, 2017]   [open pdf - 291KB]

From the Document: "Recent proposed legislation that would place limitations on the President's power to employ nuclear weapons has prompted interest in questions related to the constitutional allocation of power over the United States' nuclear arsenal. This memorandum examines the constitutional separation of powers principles implicated by legislative proposals that restrict the President's authority to launch nuclear weapons. [...] Legislation limiting presidential power over nuclear weapons implicates the historic debate over the separation of war powers between the legislative and executive branches that has been ongoing since the founding era and has been described as the 'most difficult area of the Constitution.' Although it seems well within Congress's constitutional authority to end the production of nuclear weapons through, for example, the power of the purse, there is no clear answer on whether legislation limiting the President's power to employ those nuclear weapons that are already in the military arsenal would violate separation of powers principles. Nor is there certainty that a court would resolve a conflict given that judicial involvement in wartime disputes between the branches is relatively rare, and issues of standing and justiciability may preclude judicial consideration of many disputes concerning the allocation of war powers."

Report Number:
CRS Memorandum, November 3, 2017
Public Domain
Retrieved From:
Federation of American Scientists: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/index.html
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