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Princeton University Press
War and Responsibility: Constitutional Lessons of Vietnam and Its Aftermath / Edition 1

War and Responsibility: Constitutional Lessons of Vietnam and Its Aftermath / Edition 1

by John Hart ElyJohn Hart Ely


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Twenty years after the signing of the Paris Accords, the constitutional ambiguities of American involvement in the Vietnam War remain unresolved. John Hart Ely examines the overall constitutionality of America's role in Vietnam; and shows that Congress authorized each new phase of American involvement without committing itself to the stated aims of intervention.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691025520
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 03/26/1995
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 254
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Formerly the Tyler Professor of Constitutional Law at Harvard University and then Dean of Stanford Law School, John Hart Ely is Robert E. Paradise Professor at Stanford. His Democracy and Distrust: A Theory of Judicial Review won the Order of the Coif triennial award for the best book published in any field of law during the years 1980 through 1982.

Table of Contents

Ch. 1The Constitutional Framework3
The Counterargument from Obsolescence5
The Counterargument from Practice9
Ch. 2Vietnam: The (Troubled) Constitutionality of the War They Told Us About12
The Constitutionality of the Vietnam War, 1964-197313
The American Ground Incursion into Cambodia, 197030
The Repeal of the Tonkin Gulf Resolution, 197132
The Continued Bombing of Cambodia, 197334
Ch. 3Inducing Congress to Face Up to Its Constitutional Responsibilities47
The Experience Since Vietnam48
Can Anybody Here Fix This Thing?52
Judicial "Remand" as a Corrective for Legislative Evasion54
Ch. 4The (Unenforceable) Unconstitutionality of the "Secret War" in Laos, 1962-196968
America's Role in the War in Laos69
Defense 1: Because It Wasn't Fought by Our "Armed Forces," the Campaign in Laos Wasn't Covered by the Constitutional Requirement That Wars Be Authorized by Congress73
Defense 2: The Tonkin Gulf Resolution Authorized the War in Laos75
Defense 3: There Were Compelling Military Reasons Why Congress and the American Public Could Not Be Told About the War in Laos, and Thus Why Authorization Could Not Be Sought76
Defense 4: In Fact the "Secret War" in Laos Was No Secret82
What is the Remedy for a Secret War?93
Ch. 5The (Enforceable) Unconstitutionality of the Secret Bombing of Cambodia, 1969-197098
The Sihanouk Scenarios99
What Is the Remedy for a Secret War in Which Congress Isn't Complicit?103
Ch. 6"Covert" War Today105
Have Covert Wars Been Congressionally Authorized En Masse?106
Must Covert Wars Be Congressionally Authorized?108
Have I Just Given Away the Store?109
Appendix: Toward a War Powers (Combat Authorization) Act That Works115
Provisions That Don't Do Any Good and Only Give the President an Excuse to Flout the Resolution115
Strengthening the Potentially Operational Provisions120
A Proposed Combat Authorization Act132

What People are Saying About This

Richard Falk

John Hart Ely ... is something of a marvel among law scholars: he writes readable, influential books about crucial issues of public policy.... [Ely] is convinced that the country would be more likely to avoid disastrous experiences of the Vietnam sort if the Constitution were made to work.
Richard Falk, Princeton University


In what is destined to become a classic, one of America's finest legal thinkers has brought much-needed new clarity to a perennial problem.
Laurence H. Tribe, Harvard Law School

Ronald V. Dellums

Professor Ely has written a book of timely and tremendous importance. It makes a significant contribution to the hoped-for restoration of the historic constitutional balance between the legislative and executive branches.
Representative Ronald V. Dellums, Chairman, House Committee on Armed Services

Philip Bobbitt

[T]he most signal quality of this book is its shining integrity. Ely's patient, careful, but never tedious examination of Congress's role in the authorization of the Vietnam War is an inspiring antidote to the indulgent amnesia of so many who ought to know better.
Philip Bobbitt, "Michigan Law Review"

Philippa Strum

There is no more detailed or tightly analyzed summary of recent uses of the war power. [War and Responsibility belongs on the bookshelf of anyone teaching about the presidency or concerned at the clash that sometimes exists between the power of the modern presidency and the tenets of American democracy.
Philippa Strum, "Presidential Studies Quarterly"

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