checks and balances,Constitution,liberty,tyranny,Founders
The President as Commander in Chief: War and the Constitution
Have students work in pairs, small groups, or as a large group. Have students analyze Handout A: War and the Constitution, in order to answer Critical Thinking Questions 1, 2, and 3 on Handout A. Lead a discussion of these questions. Have individual students read aloud the First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, Fifth Amendment, and Sixth Amendment. Invite other volunteers to put each of these Amendments in their own words. Then lead a large group discussion of questions 4 – 8 on Handout A.
The President as Commander in Chief: Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and the War Powers Resolution
Students will analyze the War Powers Resolution and evaluate its constitutionality. Have students read Handout B: Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, and the War Powers Resolution and Handout C: War Powers Resolution. Working in small groups, students will rephrase passages from the War Powers Act in their own words and then decide how they think delegates at the Constitutional Convention might have reacted to this law.
The President as Commander in Chief Activity: George W. Bush and the War on Terror
Students will evaluate a series of factual statements to determine the constitutionality of President George W. Bush’s handling of prisoners taken during the War on Terror in Afghanistan and other locations in Handout D: George W. Bush and the War on Terror.
The President as Commander in Chief
The Constitution gives the power of declaring war solely to Congress, while the president serves as commander in chief of the U.S. military. What does commander in chief mean? As American citizens, it is our responsibility not only to stay informed about the domestic and international uses of our military, but also to make thoughtful judgments about the wisdom and prudence of each use. Is it the responsibility of free people to spread freedom around the world? What about the responsibility to, at a minimum, refrain from sustaining tyranny? Should the military ever be used against American citizens?